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 to the body triggering 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).Concussions are Serious Brain Injuries
Concussions are generally viewed as a minor or non-serious injury mainly because they are quite common and typically not life-threatening or permanent. Doctors and other medical providers frequently refer to concussions as a "mild" brain injury. However, we are now beginning to understand that concussions are in fact a serious brain injury with potential long-term consequences.Concussion Signs / 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. The same type of concussion can cause immediate, significant symptoms in one person while another person has no obvious symptoms at all. When symptoms are present they can often be very subtle or difficult to identify and differentiate. Concussions symptoms are not always immediate either. In some cases, the person will feel perfectly fine at first 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 some type of temporary unconsciousness.
- Mental confusion: difficulty thinking, mental confusion (often described as feeling "foggy") is a common temporary symptom of a concussion.
- Amnesia: most people are not able to fully remember the actual event that caused their concussion and the moments just before and just after. Some people suffer from more extensive amnesia but this not common.
Other common physical symptoms resulting from concussions can include nausea, dizziness or vertigo, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, and light sensitivity.Medical Evaluation
Anyone who suffers a concussion should seek immediate medical evaluation either from their doctor or at a hospital. At a hospital, doctors can perform a CT scan and other diagnostic imaging tests to evaluate the extent of your concussion and check for other damage to the brain. Doctors can also perform clinical evaluation tests (known as "neurocognitive" testing) designed to evaluate any impairment of your cognitive functions such as problem-solving, concentration, memory, and critical thinking.Potential Danger Signs
Although a concussion is not a dangerous or life threatening injury, complications can arise in some cases and potentially lead to a hematoma. A hematoma is 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:
- Pupil in one eye is noticeably larger than the other eye
- Not able to stay awake or difficulty waking up
- Persistent headache that seems to get worse or more intense over time
- Shaking or involuntary convulsions with continuous nausea and vomiting
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 the management and prevention of further damage. Most people who suffer a concussion will fully recover at some point, but the rate their recovery will vary depending on factors such as 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. It is particularly important to avoid another impact or blow to the head while recovering. If you get a second concussion before your brain fully heals from the first concussion, it can trigger dangerous swelling within the brain. This serious complication can cause permanent brain damage or even death in younger individuals.Settlements & Verdicts for Concussions
Below are recent verdicts and reported settlements from personal injury cases in which the plaintiff's primary or leading injury was a concussion. These amounts are low compared to settlements and verdicts in other cases for the simple reason that although concussions are serious injuries, they are generally not permanent and therefore have less value in personal injury cases.
- 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 the concussion in a car accident in Las Vegas.
- Garcia v. Levin (Washington 2018) $25,861: Plaintiff was rear ended by the defendant 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 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 also alleged that he suffered back and elbow sprains. The case was settled for $90,000.
- Dandrige 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.
If you or someone you know suffered a concussion in a car accident, slip and fall or other type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation for that injury even if you made a full recovery. The attorneys at Miller & Zois can help you get compensation for the medical expenses and other costs associated with your concussion as well as any pain & suffering it caused. You can call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082. Free claim evaluations are also available online to answer any questions you may have.