Last Update: 09/29/16
Concussions are injuries to the brain that result from the head being hit or jarred during an accident involving a slip and fall, a sports injury, or all too often, a traffic accident or car crash. Sometimes, concussion victims do not realize that they have experienced a head injury, particularly in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. This type of injury is often the source of a dispute with an insurance company who is denying a claim for compensation.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury. Concussions happen when someone suffers from a loss of brain function – if for only a few seconds. Serious concussions result in serious and permanent injuries, where the brain function is forever changed. Severe concussions involve traumatic brain injury (TBI) where memories are lost along with the ability to function in some way (including partial paralysis, mental impairment, and more). Minor concussions eventually resolve themselves. However, minor concussions still involve a loss of brain function and an injury to the brain. For a certain period of time, the victim of a minor concussion will suffer from things like nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and the inability to fully function in the work or doing chores at home, interacting with loved ones, and other daily activities.
Symptoms of Concussion After a Traffic Accident
After a crash, concussion victims who have suffered a major concussion will immediately experience symptoms that reflect a serious brain injury. They will have lost consciousness because of their head trauma and upon regaining consciousness, it will be obvious that their brain is not fully functioning (e.g., impairment involving inability to remember, to use limbs, to speak). However, minor concussions and delayed concussions may not be as fast to be recognized by the victim or those around him. Victims of minor concussion may not lose consciousness at all, though they often report “seeing stars,” or “everything went white for a minute.” Days – even weeks – may pass before symptoms appear in these minor concussion cases, usually with things like:
- Neck pain
- Severe headache
- Blurry vision
If these symptoms are ignored, then the concussion may cause more serious symptoms including:
- Weakness in arms, legs, feet, or hands
- Lack of coordination or balance (hand to eye, walking, standing, etc.)
- Slurred speech
- Problems chewing or swallowing
- Walking with a limp or heavy gait
To determine the extent of injury to the brain suffered in the car crash, medical testing must be performed. Neurologists must take tests (e.g., CAT scans, MRIs) and evaluate the imaging results before the full extent of the concussion’s injuries can be assessed and the damages fully understood.
Concussion Damages in Car Accidents
In car accident cases, the injury victim can recover damages for permanent concussion injuries suffered in the accident. The key here is being able to prove the permanent harm you have suffered with admissible evidence. This will include medical experts providing their professional opinion. It will also involve documentation to support things like lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of allowable damages resulting from the injury. Testimony of a physician is key here. The doctor must provide his or her expertise as evidence (1) that you have suffered a concussion and (2) that the brain was permanently injured because of what you experienced in the accident. Often, insurance companies want to disrespect and discount concussion damages in car accidents, particularly minor ones. They will fight to discount the level of injury you have suffered and may even attempt to counter your claim with evidence that they argue refutes that you have suffered a brain injury or that if you have, that it was not the result of the crash.
Minor concussions can have vague and hard to explain consequences. Compensation is still available.
After a car accident, the victim is sometimes irritable, cranky, moody, “not themselves,” etc., – which are symptoms of a concussion. Symptoms like these can last after the crash and be limiting or even debilitating to the concussion victim. Insurance companies and defense lawyers are notorious for scoffing at these kinds of damages, callously assuming that they are not legitimate. It takes a firm and aggressive stance against this kind of cynical stonewalling to get the victim compensation for their minor concussion case. (Please note, in most Florida car accident cases, the victim will have to prove the concussion, even a minor concussion, resulted in a permanent injury in order to collect non-economic damages i.e pain and suffering. However, there is no such requirement with slip and falls and/or sports injury cases.) An experienced personal injury lawyer with knowledge or the complexities of concussions and how they work can be invaluable in getting that injury victim the damage award that they deserve.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.