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June 20, 1959


JAMA. 1959;170(8):964-965. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010080072014

MANY cases of head injuries have medicolegal aspects. Persons who have sustained head injuries as the result of an occupational injury or through someone's negligent act sometimes seek recovery of a monetary award in a civil suit or compensation hearing. Awards in such proceedings often include money damages for factors not directly related to earning capacity, namely, mental distress, pain, disfigurement, and personal grievances, and require of the physician an emphasis on certain aspects which are not always well documented in routine medical practice.

The prime consideration of the physician when he sees a patient with a head injury, of course, is to determine precisely the severity of brain damage, if any, and to treat it as best he can. An accurate assessment of such damage, according to Walker,1 depends on data dealing with evidence of external violence, proof of impairment of mental functions, and neurological deficits or abnormalities