The System Fails Some Traumatic Brain Injury Victims

Traumatic brain injuries can leave the injured tangled in a legal system that offers few options. One victim’s story, chronicled in The Crime Report, illustrates how vulnerable people can become after sustaining head injuries. The online crime news website recently described the problems faced by a man named Zack who had no mental health problems until a motorcycle accident at age 26 and then a serious head injury at age 29.

Behavior Problems from Traumatic Brain Injury

Those who knew Zack before his injury described him as a friendly and mild-mannered person. After a motorcycle accident left him with a head injury, Zack began showing risky and impulsive behaviors. He experimented with illegal drugs and drove aggressively. Three years after that accident, Zack fell several stories at a construction site. He was in a coma for over two weeks and required months of therapy.

After the second injury, Zack’s impulsive and risky behavior worsened. He fought more with everyone around him. He received state-funded therapy for about one year but decided to leave the rehabilitation facility, preferring to live on his own. Now unsupervised, he returned to drugs and alcohol, which led to legal conflicts. Police eventually arrested Zack and charged him with failing to obey an order, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Most Court-Ordered Solutions Fail

The courts recognized Zack’s need for treatment and deferred his case. Zack tried living with his brother but behavioral outbursts frightened the family. Zack eventually returned to court after missing a hearing and was convicted of the original charges. Rather than send Zack to prison when he clearly needed treatment, the court deferred his case once again and recommended therapy.

Even though Zack became known for his risky and angry behavior, all saw him as a friendly person. He became frustrated easily and behaved impulsively, but he was well liked. This brought him good will from the court and his caregivers. Nonetheless, it was not long before Zack was homeless and in trouble again. This time, police delivered Zack to the emergency room where doctors diagnosed him with intoxication and psychosis. They agreed to keep him until he stabilized.

Complications Defining Mental Illness

After emergency treatment, social workers tried to place Zack in the hospital’s psychiatric ward. However, the department refused him admission because his mental difficulties stemmed from traumatic brain injury, not psychiatric illness. This left him on the streets again. Eventually, the court ordered Zack into a state psychiatric unit for evaluation.

Help Finally Arrives

After evaluation, doctors transferred Zack to a traumatic brain-injury rehabilitation facility that could provide specialized care. Fortunately, the judge was willing to work with him to find therapy, rather than committing for crimes that were not under his control. Zack finally found the right treatment. Another victim may not be so lucky or find the courts and social workers so eager to help.

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If you or someone you love suffers from a traumatic brain injury and you would like to learn about your rights, contact our office. We will review you case for free and work to make sure you receive compensation for medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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