One of America's leading brain injury lawyers, Smith recently obtained a $3 million settlement on behalf a young college woman who sustained a mild traumatic brain injury in a serious car accident. It is the largest amount ever awarded in South Carolina for mild traumatic brain injury.
"I treat brain injury and death exactly the same way. Once a person has a brain injury, the person that was there before dies and a new person emerges"In 2004, Smith's client was broadsided by a 90,000 pound cement truck traveling at 45 miles an hour with a tired and inexperienced driver behind the wheel.
Smith points out that brain imaging technology has made remarkable strides over the last several decades, yet CT scans and MRIs still cannot detect more subtle mild brain injuries. Although these injuries seem invisible, they can be just as catastrophic and life-changing.
"It may be months or years before a mild injury becomes apparent," says Smith. "These people are often heavily medicated and the focus is on their physical injuries."
The injury eventually shows itself though personality changes, the inability to handle stress, short-term memory problems or searching for words says Smith.
His client managed to finish her degree in accounting, but her injuries left her unable to pass the CPA exam, despite numerous attempts. She was left essentially unemployable.
"She fought her brain injury for the longest time. She is a very bright lady and it was difficult for her to accept she had a brain injury," says Smith.
She is typical of the kind of clients that Stephen Smith has been taking on since he handled his first brain injury case some 36 years ago. "I don't know how to search a title or anything about tax law," says Smith with a chuckle. "What I do know is brain injury law."
Smith's firm, The Brain Injury Law Center, is the only firm in America that does brain injury and death cases exclusively. "I say brain injury and death because I treat them exactly the same way," says Smith. "Once a person has a brain injury, the person that was there before dies and a new person emerges."
Smith has handled literally hundreds of mild, moderate and severe brain injury cases, but he says the majority of these types of injuries fall in the "walking wounded" category.
"By far the largest number of brain injury survivors are mild brain injury cases, and the largest number of unreported cases are mild brain injuries cases."
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Smith, who frequently speaks to lawyers and medical groups across the US and other parts of world, has also recently become aware of an alarming and rising number of mild head injuries among soldiers. "We are seeing a tremendous amount of closed head/mild traumatic brain injury in troops returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq," he says.
Stephen Smith has topped a number of lists of the best lawyers in America. His firm has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across the US.