A concussion is defined as a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Violently shaking of the head and upper body also can cause concussions. This type of impact can lead to bruising or bleeding in the brain. If not treated immediately, some brain injuries can get worse over time and cause even more damage to the brain.
The most common causes of concussions are motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries. Losing consciousness is not always associated with a concussion or post-concussive symptoms. In fact, the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up for weeks or months following an accident. It is critical to seek medical attention following any type of accident to get an accurate diagnosis and preserve your right to compensation for your injuries.
Is a concussion considered a serious injury?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is considered to be a “mild” TBI because they are usually not life-threatening. However, concussions are graded on the level of severity, and the lasting effects of concussions can be severe enough to impact every facet of someone’s life.
Grade 1 (Mild): No loss of consciousness and amnesia is absent or present for less than 20 minutes.
Grade 2 (Moderate): Loss of consciousness for less than five minutes or amnesia for between 30 minutes and 24 hours.
Grade 3 (Severe): Loss of consciousness for more than five minutes or amnesia for more than 24 hours.
Sometimes these injuries are missed by doctors, especially immediately after the injury. Mild symptoms also make diagnosing a concussion more complicated. According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of a concussion can be headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and blurry vision. Some people may attribute these as indicators of a long week at work. No matter how minor the symptoms may be, it is critical to have medical records of all neurological and physical signs of an injury following an accident.
Common Symptoms of a Concussion
- Loss of concentration
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Noise and light sensitivity
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Memory loss
If someone else’s negligence caused your brain injury, you will need medical evidence to support your claim. Insurance companies may try to dispute whether you have a brain injury, often by minimizing the symptoms of a concussion as a standard headache or migraine. In some cases, they may even attempt to claim that you are responsible for the accident that caused your brain injury. Becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of a concussion, in addition to having the proper medical records, you will significantly improve your chances of a successful personal injury claim.
What are the lasting effects of sustaining a concussion?
Brain injury symptoms can be subtle or may not be noticed until you return to normal activities. In most people, symptoms occur within the first seven to 10 days and go away within three months. Sometimes, they can persist for a year or more.
If symptoms last longer than three months, the condition is labelled as Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). In addition to managing concussion symptoms, PCS can become disruptive to daily activities. Victims are often forced to restructure their lives to avoid situations that could make symptoms worse. Some individuals with PCS may experience difficulty making decisions or processing information, problems with short-term memory and attention, and trouble resolving problems. This could result in limited employment options or impact the ability to work altogether.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a serious medical condition associated with individuals who experience multiple concussions. Getting a second concussion within hours, days, or weeks of the first concussion can result in rapid brain swelling that can be fatal. Symptoms of repeated mild TBIs occurring over an extended period of time typically present themselves 15 years after exposure. They can include cognitive impairments, psychological changes, and dementia.
Research presented during the annual meeting of the American Associated for the Advancement of Science suggests that brain damage caused by a concussion can last for decades after the original injury. Unfortunately, researchers have yet to determine why some people with concussions develop persistent long-term symptoms while others do not.
While the impact of a concussion on someone’s quality of life may differ from person to person, it is crucial to consider the short and long-term effects when determining the value of your personal injury claim.
Can I sue for a concussion?
After an accident that resulted in a concussion, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Most of these damages are defined as either “pecuniary” or “non-pecuniary”.
The literal definition of the word pecuniary is “relating to money”. Pecuniary damages in a personal injury case refer to losses that can be quantified in financial terms. Some examples of pecuniary damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future care costs
- Property damage and repair costs
Also referred to as compensatory damages, non-pecuniary damages deal with losses that affect a person’s lifestyle and enjoyment of life but cannot be clearly defined in monetary terms. Some examples of non-pecuniary damages are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent impairment
- Loss of future wages
Concussion lawsuits are based on the theory of negligence. You will need to prove someone else is responsible for the accident and have medical documents supporting your claim that the concussion was caused by the accident. Suppose your medical physician disagrees that you are suffering from a concussion. In that case, you will not be able to claim damages for the injury. If this situation occurs, you will need to get another medical opinion that confirms a concussion diagnosis before you can include those damages in your injury claim.
How much compensation do you get for a concussion?
Because brain injuries can take longer to appear and are often difficult to diagnose, assessing proper medical treatment and expenses can be complicated. Since concussion symptoms can be hard to quantify, most insurance companies will dispute this type of case to reduce the settlement or attempt to refuse compensation entirely.
Settlements are a common resolution to brain injury claims because insurance companies may not want to assume the risk and costs associated with a trial. However, since insurance companies may try to low ball the settlement offer, you may be forced to take your case to trial.
What’s the average payout for a concussion?
Setting an “average” payout for concussions can be somewhat misleading since there is such a diverse range of symptoms for mild, moderate, and severe concussions that directly impact the payout amount. On the low end, you can recover an average settlement of $20,000 to $30,000, assuming your injuries are relatively minor and have not produced long-term symptoms. Victims suffering from a more serious concussion can receive compensation upwards of $100,000.
When dealing with a concussion, securing fair compensation can be next to impossible to do on your own, especially when insurance companies are trained in getting you the lowest compensation possible. Consulting with a doctor and concussion injury lawyer following your accident will ensure that you get the settlement you deserve.
How could a lawyer help if I have a concussion injury?
One of the biggest issues you will face when filing a concussion injury claim is your insurance company disputing the injury itself or the impact it has had on your life. Insurers will typically insist that you receive a medical assessment from a doctor they recommend. This doctor may disagree with your concussion diagnosis, even if you have medical documents from your physician that say otherwise.
You will also need additional medical records and paperwork to support your claim for how the concussion has negatively impacted your life. These could include medical bills or evidence of lost wages if you had to stay home for work. Without supporting evidence, you may not get an accurate assessment of damages. You are also responsible for proving that your injuries are the result of someone else’s negligence.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer will take the pressure of negotiating with insurance companies off your shoulders so that you can focus on your treatment and recovery. Your lawyer will ensure you have the proper medical documents to build a strong case for your injuries and resulting damages. Your concussion injury lawyer will also investigate the accident in question to prove that the defendant was negligent in their behaviour and actions that caused your injuries.
The compensation you are entitled to can be yours with proper preparation and the help of a legal professional. Our team of experienced and compassionate concussion injury lawyers at Valent Legal will review your case for free and advise you on your legal rights and options to get you the compensation you deserve.