Concussions can have significant effects on personal injury lawsuits, particularly when they are the result of a car accident or other negligence with strong forces involved. A concussion is not just “blacking out”. You can be conscious and “see stars” or be stunned and still injure your brain.
A concussion is simply a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs due to a blow or jolt to the head. The impact causes temporary changes in brain function and physical injury to the brain tissue. These injuries can vary in severity and can lead to a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
For accident cases, we use a form that the University of California provides to its students. It lists the symptoms and has charts and scoring to allow an assessment. It is an excellent tool for injured persons to use to keep track of their head injuries. (Get the Form Here)
Long-term harm from concussions can vary depending on the severity of the injury, the individual’s age, overall health, and how the injury is managed. While many people recover fully from a concussion within a few weeks or months, some individuals may experience persistent or long-lasting symptoms. Here are some potential long-term effects of concussions:
Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS): Some individuals continue to experience symptoms of concussion beyond the expected recovery period, which is known as post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms can include persistent headaches, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sleep disturbances, and mood changes.
Cognitive Impairment: In some cases, concussions can lead to long-term cognitive impairments, affecting memory, attention, concentration, and information processing speed. These cognitive difficulties can impact an individual’s work, education, and daily life.
Mood and Mental Health Disorders: Concussions have been associated with an increased risk of developing mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. These conditions can persist even after the physical symptoms have resolved. The emotional and psychological impact of a concussion can significantly affect an individual’s overall well-being and quality of life.
Second Impact Syndrome: If an individual sustains a second concussion before fully recovering from the first one, it can lead to a rare but severe condition called second impact syndrome. This can result in rapid brain swelling, potentially causing permanent brain damage, coma, or even death. It emphasizes the importance of proper management and rest following a concussion.
Neurodegenerative Conditions: Although the association is not yet fully understood, there is ongoing research exploring the potential link between repeated concussions and the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive brain disease that can cause symptoms such as memory loss, cognitive decline, behavioral changes, and movement disorders. However, it’s important to note that CTE is more commonly associated with repetitive head trauma, such as that experienced by professional athletes involved in contact sports over an extended period.
It’s essential to emphasize that not everyone who sustains a concussion will experience long-term harm or develop these complications.
Prompt medical evaluation, appropriate rest and recovery, and following healthcare professionals’ guidance are crucial in minimizing the potential for long-term effects. If you have concerns about the long-term impact of a concussion, it’s recommended to consult with a medical professional who specializes in brain injuries or a neurologist for a thorough evaluation and personalized advice. Concussions are the invisible injury caused by car accidents. Some people report seeing stars or blacking out but many concussions (brain injuries) have more subtle manifestations. Memory issues, depression, slowed mental responses can be as real as neck pain but more difficult to document. Of concern is the recent spate of research showing the long-term harm from concussions. The harm varies depending on several factors many of which are obvious.
The severity and frequency of the concussions affects long term harm. Resting and recovery time is a less obvious but important curative factor. In general people recover fully from concussions but a meaningful number of individuals experience persistent and long-lasting effects. These effects need to be documented in personal cases just as neck pain, back pain, and other orthopedic damages must be documented.
In assessing harm from a head injury, we look for several harms. The first is short and long term cognitive Impairment. Serious or repeated concussions can lead to long-term cognitive difficulties, such as problems with memory, attention, concentration, and processing speed. These impairments can affect academic or work performance, as well as daily functioning.
A good personal injury attorney will identify not only the impairment but the specific ways that the impairment affects your daily life.
On the more physical side, Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) is a continuation of the initial symptoms without a clear end date. These symptoms vary among individuals but will often include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, irritability, mood changes, and difficulty with memory and concentration.
Clients who have a mental health history but also those who do not can experience depression, increases in anxiety and even anxiety disorders. Depending upon the accident and the person, there can be an overlay of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or PTSD by itself. Again, these conditions can have a long-term impact on a person’s overall well-being and quality of life and a lawyer needs to explain the harm by pointing to specific day to day impacts of these conditions.
Depending upon the person, their health history and other factors, the lawyer (and doctors need to consider whether the impact can trigger or cause the expression of neurodegenerative diseases. There is ongoing research exploring the potential link between repeated concussions and the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and Alzheimer’s disease. CTE is associated with repetitive head trauma, particularly in contact sports or professions with a high risk of head injuries. It can cause symptoms such as memory loss, cognitive decline, behavioral changes, and movement disorders. Our attorneys avoid “pop psychology” or off the shelf claims on these issues. We look to the medical history of the client and family history for cases where a referral for a medical-legal neuro consult is required.
For all of these reasons, when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, concussions can play a crucial role in several ways. To ensure that the client receives full and fair compensation for the actual injuries, the impact of a concussion needs to be directly and serious assessed. If there are genuine damages these need to be documented and properly conveyed during the settlement negotiation process. Causation is always an issue. Causation is the establishment of a causal link between the accident and the injury itself. If a concussion can be directly attributed to the negligent actions or omissions of another party, it can strengthen the injured person’s case. If there is no clear connection the client needs to assess whether the cost and litigation risk justifies pursuing the claim. In California causation is defined the accident being a substantial factor in causing the injury.
CACI 430 which is the California jury instruction explaining this term says that “A substantial factor in causing harm is a factor that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm. It must be more than a remote or trivial factor. It does not have to be the only cause of the harm. [Conduct is not a substantial factor in causing harm if the same harm would have occurred without that conduct.]
In sum, consider head injury claims and make them when they can be properly documented. A rash and undocumented claim will likely lead to extra costs without an increase in recovery.
The post Car Accident Concussion Claims (Always consider but tread carefully) appeared first on Lawyers In Lafayette.