Our car accident attorneys have handled scores of cases for clients with concussion injuries. This page looks at concussion accident settlements by looking at the average compensation payout for these head injuries and looking at verdict and settlement amounts in previous lawsuits where the victim had a concussion.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results from a sudden, forceful impact, hit, or jolt directly to the head. In addition to direct head impacts, concussions can also result from a sudden collision with the body triggering the reactive movement of the head and brain in a rapid back-and-forth motion.
These impacts or sudden movements cause damage to the brain as it essentially bounces around inside the skull, impacting the front and back of the cranium (called coup-contrecoup injury).
Our lawyers have handled many concussion car accident lawsuits and we are familiar with the science of how these injuries occur in motor vehicle crashes and the settlement amounts and jury payouts victims can expect. This page
Concussions in Car Accidents
Concussions can occur in car accidents due to the sudden and forceful impact experienced during the collision. When a vehicle is involved in an accident, the rapid change in speed and direction can cause the occupants’ heads to move abruptly. This violent motion can cause the brain to collide with the skull’s interior, resulting in a concussion. Some common scenarios in which concussions may occur during car accidents include:
- Whiplash: When a vehicle is struck from behind or makes a sudden stop, the occupants’ heads may be whipped back and forth, causing their brains to impact the inside of their skulls. This sudden acceleration and deceleration can lead to a concussion.
- Direct impact: If a person’s head makes direct contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, side window, or other parts of the car during an accident, the force of the impact can cause a concussion. You generally see higher settlement amounts for concussion in these cases, mainly when there is evidence of blunt force trauma.
- Rotational forces: If a vehicle is involved in a rollover or side-impact accident, the rotational forces experienced during the collision can cause the brain to twist within the skull, potentially leading to a concussion. If there is a significant amount of force, these injuries can be the most common.
Concussions Are Serious Brain Injuries
Concussions are generally viewed as minor or non-serious injuries mainly because they are familiar and typically not life-threatening or permanent. Doctors and other medical providers frequently call concussions “mild” brain injuries. However, we are now beginning to understand that concussions are severe brain injuries with potential long-term consequences.
Concussion Signs and Symptoms
The brain is the most complex organ in the human body, and the symptoms and characteristics of brain injuries tend to be highly disparate and unique. Brain injuries can range from mild to severe.
The most common type of mild brain injury is a concussion. Concussions can be caused in car accidents by an impact on the head. But you can also suffer a concussion from the whiplash motion that makes your brain bounce or twist inside your skull. That can stretch your brain cells and cause harmful chemical changes that interfere with brain activity.
The same type of concussion can cause immediate, significant symptoms in one person while another has no apparent symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can often be very subtle or difficult to identify and differentiate.
Concussions symptoms are not always immediate either. Sometimes, the person will feel perfectly fine and not experience any physical symptoms until hours or even days later. Listed below are the symptoms commonly associated with concussions, appearing in order of frequency:
- Headache: mild to severe headache or the feeling of pressure inside the head is the primary physical symptom of a concussion. Although not a universal symptom, most concussions will eventually cause some type of headache, pressure, or discomfort.
- Loss of consciousness: a severe or moderate concussion will often knock the person out or cause temporary unconsciousness.
- Mental confusion: difficulty thinking and mental confusion (often described as feeling “foggy”) are common temporary symptoms of a concussion.
- Amnesia: most people cannot fully remember the actual event that caused their concussion and the moments just before and after. Some people suffer from more extensive amnesia, but this is not common.
- Attention: the inability to focus is one strong symptom of a significant head injury
Other common physical symptoms of concussions include nausea, dizziness or vertigo, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, and light sensitivity.
Anyone who suffers a concussion should seek immediate medical evaluation from their doctor or hospital. When evaluating a patient for a concussion, a doctor will take a detailed medical history and conduct a physical examination. They will ask questions about the circumstances of the injury, any symptoms the patient has experienced since the injury, and any previous head injuries or medical conditions that might affect the diagnosis or treatment.
During the physical exam, the doctor will assess the patient’s vital signs, balance, coordination, strength, reflexes, and sensation. They will also conduct a neurological exam to assess the patient’s cognitive function, memory, and speech.
Imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, may be used to rule out more severe brain injuries, such as bleeding or swelling in the brain. However, these tests are not always necessary or recommended, as they do not always show evidence of a concussion.
In addition to the initial evaluation, doctors may use various concussion assessment tools to monitor the patient’s progress and determine when it is safe for them to return to normal activities. These tools may include physical and cognitive tests, such as balance testing, reaction time testing, and memory tests. But this is usually not done in an acute care setting.
It is important to note that concussion symptoms can sometimes take several days or weeks to appear. People have a hard time believing this sometimes, but the expert testimony in concussion lawsuits is unequivocal on this point. So patients need to continue monitoring their symptoms and seeking medical attention if they experience any new or worsening symptoms.
Potential Danger Signs
Although a concussion is not a severe or life-threatening injury, complications can sometimes arise, potentially leading to a hematoma. A hematoma is the buildup or pooling of blood in the head just outside the brain.
Hematomas can sometimes occur after a concussion when blood vessels are ruptured. The blood pool can put internal pressure on the brain and cause serious injury. Potential signs of a hematoma and other serious complications resulting from a concussion include:
- The pupil in one eye is noticeably more prominent than the other eye
- Not able to stay awake (or having difficulty waking up)
- A persistent headache that seems to get worse or more intense over time
- Shaking or involuntary convulsions with continuous nausea and vomiting
Concussion Management and Recovery
There is no effective way to treat a concussion. Doctors cannot really go inside the head and repair internal damage to the brain the same way they can with a broken bone or other types of injury.
Instead, medical care for concussions focuses more on managing and preventing further damage. Most people who suffer a concussion will fully recover at some point. Still, their recovery rate will vary depending on age and whether they have had any previous brain injuries.
The primary method of management and recovery from the concussion is through rest. Mental and physical rest following a concussion is critical because it allows the brain to heal and recover. Rest usually involves staying home from work or school and avoiding all strenuous physical and mental activities for several days. But, underscoring the lack of scientific clarity about these injuries, there is a also data that suggests that too much rest after a concussion may also be problematic.
Avoiding another impact or blow to the head while recovering is particularly important. If you get a second concussion before your brain fully heals from the first concussion, it can trigger dangerous swelling within the brain. This severe complication can cause permanent brain damage or even death in younger individuals.
How Long Does a Concussion Last After a Car Accident?
The duration of our clients’ symptoms after concussion after a car accident can vary significantly. We have clients who recover the same day and clients who suffer a permanent brain injury. How long the concussion symptoms last generally depends on the injury’s severity, the impact’s severity, the client’s overall health, and the effectiveness of treatment. You have to remember that concussions are traumatic brain injuries, and there is a wide range of symptoms and recovery times. With other personal injury cases, our lawyers feel more confident projecting the course of the injury. With a concussion, it is often anyone’s guess how the victim will progress.
In many cases, concussion symptoms resolve within a few days to a few weeks. However, some individuals may experience lingering symptoms for several weeks or months, a condition known as post-concussion syndrome.
Factors that can influence recovery time include:
- Severity of the injury: More severe concussions may result in longer recovery times compared to milder cases.
- Age: Children and older adults may take longer to recover from a concussion.
- Medical history: Our clients who have a history of concussions or other brain injuries usually experience longer recovery times and have more complications
- Treatment and rehabilitation: Timely and appropriate treatment, including physical and cognitive rest, can help speed up recovery.
How Much Compensation Will I Get For A Concussion Case?
The average value of a personal injury lawsuit involving a concussion is between $20,000 to $80,000. The more severe concussion injury cases (those involving continuing complications) may have an average settlement value of $125,000 or more. Looking at sample concussion settlements and verdicts, you will see that the ranges of settlement values and verdicts range wildly.
Can You Sue For A Concussion?
How Do You Prove You Have A Concussion?
Unlike other types of injuries, such as bone fractures, no definitive test is used to diagnose whether someone has suffered a concussion. There are no quickly accessible biomarkers to determine whether the brain has experienced a mild traumatic brain injury or has recovered from it. But there are warning signs and danger signals of a concussion.
The starting point is a doctor, preferably a neurologist. A doctor can perform a physical exam, neurological exam, and diagnostic tests such as a CT scan or MRI to evaluate the extent of your head injury and determine if you have a concussion.
Most concussions are diagnosed based on symptoms, physical examination, and circumstances. If a positive diagnosis was never made, our lawyers use our medical experts to make the case that we can see in hindsight that the client suffered a concussion.
Are Concussions Common In Car Accidents?
Yes. A concussion is one of the most common injuries frequently resulting from car accidents. It is the most common brain injury in a motor vehicle crash. The sudden impact of an auto accident can cause the brain to bounce around inside the skull resulting in a concussion.
Settlements and Verdicts for Concussions
Below are recent jury payouts and settlement amounts in personal injury cases where the plaintiff’s primary or leading injury was a concussion.
These settlement amounts are lower than our lawyers typically see. Although concussions are serious injuries, they are generally not permanent and therefore have less value in personal injury cases. Our lawyers tend to handle more severe injury concussion claims that often settle and are subject to confidentiality clauses.
Also remember that you cannot project how much a concussion is worth in a car accident in your case just by looking at similar claims. But they are a useful tool in understanding how insurance companies calculate settlement compensation and how juries determine awards.
- Larson v. Forest (Oregon 2023) $63,198: The plaintiff was a passenger in a medical transport vehicle operated by the defendant. The vehicle was involved in an accident when the driver failed to yield. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered a concussion, chest wall contusion, and back sprain.
- Ewing v. Carnival Corp (Florida 2022) $675,000: The plaintiff was a passenger on a cruise ship. While sitting on the lower bunk in his cabin, the upper bunk bed suddenly came free and struck him on the head. Plaintiff alleged that he suffered a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, with brain shrinkage.
- Harris v. Ratcliff (Mississippi 2022) $400,000: A 30-something woman was involved in a rear-ender. She injured her neck and suffered a concussion. The woman underwent pain management courses. She sustained memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The woman hire a concussion lawyer and alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused her injuries. She claimed she tailgated her and failed to avoid a collision. The woman received a payout of $400,000.
- Vice v. Hefferman (Washington 2021) $1,250,000: A 40-year-old woman was rear-ended. She fractured her neck, eye socket, nose, and ribs. The woman also suffered a concussion, a scalp hematoma, and a pseudoaneurysm. She underwent several treatments for 12 months. The woman did not undergo surgery. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. This case settled for $1,250,000.
- Chavez v. Sunset Construction Company (California 2021) $2.5 million: A 43-year-old laborer fell eight feet to the ground from a scaffold. He sustained a traumatic brain injury. The man developed post-concussion syndrome, post-traumatic headaches, post-traumatic vision disorder, vestibular balance disorder, and tinnitus. He also suffered from depression and insomnia. He underwent neurorehabilitation. The man continued to experience tinnitus, dizziness, fatigue, chronic headaches, and memory issues. This case settled for $2.5 million.
- Anonymous v. Gaylord (Maryland 2020): $100,000. Our client was broadsided at a red light in a Washington, D.C. suburb. She mainly had soft tissue injuries and a concussion. The insurance company was unimpressed with the concussion and offered $31,000. Our car accident lawyers filed suit. The insurance company offered their full $100,000 policy a few months before trial.
- In the Matter of Cornell (Nevada 2018) $25,000: In this case, the court-approved settlement of a minor child’s personal injury claim in which he accepted $25,000 as compensation for a concussion and related medical treatment and expenses. The child suffered a concussion in a car accident in Las Vegas.
- Garcia v. Levin (Washington 2018) $25,861: The defendant rear-ended the plaintiff at an intersection outside Seattle. Plaintiff alleged that as a result of the accident, she suffered a severe concussion with temporary loss of consciousness and disorientation, dizziness, and nausea. The jury awarded her $5,861 in medical expenses and $20,000 in pain and suffering.
- Abramaquvitz v. Greenwood Motor Inc (Oregon 2018) $90,000: Plaintiff was in a small car on the highway when he was sideswiped by the defendant’s big rig truck during a lane change. The impact caused the plaintiff to spin out of control and hit the guardrail. Plaintiff’s primary injury was a concussion which he claimed resulted in PTSD and permanent sleep disorder. Plaintiff hired a lawyer seeking compensation. When the claim did not reach a pretrial settlement, he filed a lawsuit that also alleged that he suffered back and elbow sprains. Her concussion settlement was ultimately $90,000.
- Dandridge v. Northeast Medical Center (Pennsylvania 2017) $90,000: Plaintiff was walking into a medical office building when he slipped and fell on an icy walkway. Plaintiff suffered a concussion with post-concussion syndrome and a herniated disc resulting in permanent pain. The jury in Philadelphia awarded $40,606.74 in past medical expenses and $50,000 in compensatory damages.
We also have post-concussion syndrome settlements and verdicts, which are similar but different injuries.
Contact Miller & Zois About Your Concussion Injury Lawsuit
If you or someone you know suffered a concussion in a car accident, slip and fall, or another type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation for that injury even if you made a full recovery.
The injury attorneys at Miller & Zois can help you get compensation for the medical expenses and other costs associated with your concussion and any pain and suffering it caused.
You can call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082. Free claim evaluations are also available.