April 7, 2015

J. Scott Stanley

Recently our firm was involved in a case that has received a fair amount of publicity, most notably from The Province and ABC News. Our client had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident that occurred while she was still in high school. As we have noted before, mild traumatic brain injuries are some of the most complex injuries to deal with in terms of evaluating resulting symptoms, assessing impact and sorting out appropriate compensation. Long-term symptoms can be diverse and difficult to diagnose and include everything from ongoing confusion, concentration and memory complaints to irritability, personality changes, and disorders of taste and smell.

The case covered in The Province and ABC News is a an example of the diverse consequences of a head injury. Prior to the accident our client, Alissa Afonina was a very bright and ambitious high school student. She dreamed of being a filmmaker or actress, and was in the top two percent of her high school class. However, as a result of a 2008 car accident, Alissa suffered a brain injury that greatly disrupted her life goals. In the wake of her accident, Alissa began to suffer from poor impulse control, could no longer carry through on tasks, became increasingly isolated, and was prone to outbursts and inappropriate sexual comments. This combination of symptoms made her pretty much unemployable for any of the typical jobs one might expect a young woman her age to do.

With few conventional options available to her, Alissa eventually began paying her bills by working as a dominatrix: one of the few jobs that could provide her with enough money to cover her living expenses while simultaneously providing a schedule and work environment that accommodated the long-term effects of her brain injury. Looking for compensation for the opportunities that she lost in the wake of the 2008 accident, Alissa approached our firm for help. We’ve dealt with many head injury cases over the years and after hearing her story and reviewing the evidence we took her case to court where the Judge decided to provide Alissa with a $1.5 million award. Click to read the full decision.

Although the publicity surrounding Alissa’s case is somewhat sensational in nature due to her work as a dominatrix, it is very important to point out that her experience with mild traumatic brain injury is not uncommon. Personality changes are often one of the symptoms of the impact of a brain injury. As the judge indicated in his reasons, Alissa currently has no ability to work full time and would likely only be able to qualify for entry-level jobs a few hours a day. Before her injury, the Judge concluded that she would have had no trouble completing a post-secondary education and pursuing a challenging career.

Sadly, this scenario is repeated time and time again for brain-injured parties. Although these individuals might appear normal, the loss of certain cognitive functions have stripped them of their previous identity and dashed formerly realistic and achievable ambitions. This cognitive impairment has a very real impact on the financial prospects of brain injury victims that needs to be taken into account in any award for damages.

We were happy to represent Alissa in her case and were proud to see the Judge deliver a just decision. If you are suffering from similar symptoms following an accident or know a loved-one in need of help, please contact the lawyer’s at Murphy Battista LLP for a free consultation.


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