Organic Brain Injury & PTS Disorder

Organic Brain Injury and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Emotional distress following a traumatic brain injury can be both real and debilitating. Oftentimes, severe emotional distress will mimic many of the characteristics of organic brain dysfunction. It is the treatment that differs in each case, however.

In the litigation setting, it is common for insurance companies, and their lawyers, to contend that the dysfunction and deficits experienced by the victim did not result from any trauma sustained, but rather from pre-existing emotional difficulties. So standard is this defense that it is encountered in virtually all cases of “mild” traumatic brain injury. Therefore, for purposes of treatment, and in order to prevail over unmeritorious defenses, it is important to understand the distinction between an organic brain injury and a debilitating emotional injury.

If you are dealing with an organic brain injury or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after being involved in a negligence-related accident, you may be unsure how to proceed or where to go for help. These kinds of cases require the attention of a knowledgeable and diligent attorney with decades of experience as a brain injury advocate. We invite you to contact Scarlett Law Group for an initial consultation.

We proudly offer free case reviews to our potential clients. Call (415) 688-2176 to schedule yours.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is an emotional injury that occurs when someone experiences a traumatic event. While most individuals associate PTSD with war veterans, it can also occur to civilians as well. For example, it is not uncommon for some individuals to give up driving after experiencing a serious car accident due to their debilitating trauma.

Symptoms of PTSD can include the following:

  • Avoiding places or activities related to the traumatic event experienced
  • Nightmares
  • Recurring flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Sleeping trouble
  • Emotional numbness and decreased responsiveness to the outside world

Acute PTSD involves symptoms lasting less than three months, while chronic PTSD involves much longer-lasting symptoms. Symptoms that don’t present themselves until six months or more after the traumatic event signify delayed onset PTSD.

Severe car accidents or other threatening life events can trigger PTSD. TBI patients who have intrusive memories of the traumatic event, and who experienced fear and helplessness in avoidance of the event, are likely to develop PTSD. In a vicious cycle of compounding symptomology, PTSD has been found to exacerbate the cognitive deficits experienced in mild TBI.

Organic Brain Injury

Also called “dementia due to head trauma” by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – IV (DSM IV), organic brain injury involves the impairment of cognitive functioning such as memory and attention. Neuropsychological assessment is helpful in diagnosing an organic brain injury and aids in allowing prompt treatment to ensue.

Organic brain injury typically involves the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Severe short-term loss of brain function (delirium)
  • Long-term loss of brain function (dementia)

Perhaps the easiest manner of determining whether a particular victim is suffering from PTSD-related symptoms only, versus organically based brain impairments, involves analyzing the overall pattern of neuropsychological assessment results. For example, if the victim demonstrates problems with motor or sensory abilities isolated on one side of the body (or other abilities governed by one hemisphere of the brain), such injuries are more likely to be the result of actual organic brain damage than due to interference in efficiency of thinking due to PTSD or other emotional distress. Maximum recovery from organically based brain injury, at least in terms of thinking skills, typically occurs soon after the event in question, with gradual recovery continuing throughout the first year to two years post-injury.

Schedule a Free Consult with a San Francisco Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

Unfortunately, it has become a popular defense in the litigation arena to blame cognitive deficits and changes in behavior on alleged “pre-existing emotional disorders” rather than on the trauma. It is therefore absolutely necessary to seek the help of an attorney who can determine and corroborate premorbid levels of function and fight for just compensation.

Dealing with an organic brain injury or PTSD can be alienating and frustrating as you try to seek help and recover. We can help you obtain the due monetary compensation you need to treat your injuries so that you can move on with your life as quickly as possible. Your traumatic accident shouldn’t dictate how you live the rest of your life.

Speak with our lawyers about your brain injury case today.


  • $5 BILLION Professional Negligence
  • $1.2 BILLION Catastrophic Injury
  • $49 MILLION Brain Injury
  • $26 MILLION Medical Malpractice
  • $18.6 MILLION Wrongful Death
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