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Got a Concussion in a Car Accident?

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A women taking a rest suffering from the concussion

Head injuries are one of the most worrisome injuries you can get in a car accident. Unlike a broken bone or cut, they are not always easy to spot…but they can have serious long-term consequences. A concussion, which is one of the mildest forms of brain injury, will eventually heal, but it could be weeks or months before it’s safe to resume normal activities.

A concussion can result in doctor bills, scans, follow-up exams, and loss of income during recovery. When a concussion happens during an accident where someone else is at fault, you, the victim, deserves compensation. Seeking representation from a personal injury attorney will give the best chance of having all damages paid.

What is a Concussion?

The CDC defines a concussion as:

“a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”

By that definition, it’s easy to see how a victim in a car accident could get this type of injury. A head hitting the steering wheel, the dashboard, or a side window may cause a concussion. So might the violent back-and-forth motion of being tossed around during a collision.

A concussion is different from whiplash, which is another common accident injury. Whiplash can result from the head being snapped back and forth on impact. But it is an overextension of the neck and shoulder muscles, where a concussion’s danger lies in the brain’s impact with the inside of the skull.

Symptoms of Concussions from Car Accidents

Woman with head pain as a result of getting a concussion in a car accident

It’s natural in the aftermath of a crash to have a headache if you’ve hit your head. Knowing if it’s a concussion is a bit trickier. Concussion symptoms may not show up until a few hours or even days later. And in some cases the signs may be more noticeable to others than to victims themselves.

A victim of a car accident that exhibits one or more of the following signs, may have a concussion:

  • Headache
  • Tingling sensations
  • Numbness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in the ears (also known as tinnitus)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Impaired memory, especially of the incident
  • Seizures

Some people turn down the offer of medical assistance at the scene of an accident. This could be a mistake. The incident can cause an adrenaline spike, which might mask symptoms at first. Victims may feel “shaken up” but not hurt, when in fact, they could have a concussion or other serious injuries. It’s best to get checked out by first responders or see a doctor as soon as possible.

In the days following a blow to the head in an accident, the victim and those around him or her should watch carefully for symptoms that could indicate a concussion. Victims should see a doctor whenever symptoms like a headache or blurred vision last longer than a day or so. Symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, confusion, loss of memory, or a loss of consciousness for any length of time should be considered serious and cause for immediate medical attention.

Diagnosing a Concussion or Other Traumatic Brain Injuries

There is no one test to detect if a person has a concussion or not. Instead, the doctor will review the symptoms to make the diagnosis. A record of doctor visits, starting with any initial emergency care is necessary if the victim needs proof of a concussion in a personal injury case.

The doctor will ask the victim about which symptoms they are experiencing, or that those close to them have witnessed. Neurocognitive tests can help them assess if there is any impairment to concentration, memory, or problem solving abilities.

They will also check the victim’s eyes with a penlite, which can give the doctor quite a bit of information. Pupils of a concussed person may be abnormally large when dilated, or may dilate unevenly with one pupil larger than the other. They may also have difficulty tracking the doctor’s finger as he moves it up and down or side to side.

Doctors may also order a CT scan or MRI to see if there is any bruising or bleeding on the brain, which could indicate a more serious TBI or even the potential for a stroke.

Treatment, Recovery, and What it All Costs

Treatment Recovery Systems

Besides rest, there is little that a doctor can do or prescribe for a concussion. Victims should get plenty of sleep and avoid physical activity, bright lights, and loud noise. They should also take a break from reading and screen time, including watching TV. Driving or anything that requires moving the head and neck should be avoided, too.

It’s a common myth that someone with a concussion should be kept awake. As long as the person can carry on a conversation and isn’t having trouble moving while they’re awake, it is fine to let them go to sleep. Since the cure for a concussion is to rest the brain, sleep is actually the best thing to do.

Recovery from a concussion doesn’t require any prescription drugs or surgery, but victims will have bills for doctor visits. They may also have to pay for CT scans or MRIs if the doctor felt they were necessary for a diagnosis. These expenses should be tracked and part of a settlement requested from the at-fault driver.

Also included should be compensation for time lost from work. Since victims are instructed to avoid driving and movement of their head, neck, or eyes, they can’t work after a car accident that causes a concussion. Concussions do heal, so it will be temporary. Recovery from a concussion typically takes about 7 to 10 days; however, a serious one can have effects that linger for months. The severity of the injury and the type of work the victim does for a living will determine how quickly they can return to a normal schedule.

Get Representation for a Concussion in a Car Accident

A victim’s top priority after an accident is to seek medical treatment and get well. In the case of a concussion, or any injury, medical care costs money, and recovery time might keep them from working. If the crash was not their fault, they should not have to pay for that treatment or lost wages.

The attorneys of Hipskind & McAninch are experienced in personal injury cases involving concussions. More than that, we have good working relationships with a number of area doctors who can get you the tests and treatment you need after a car accident, even if you don’t have a primary care doctor. We can help you get the care and the compensation you deserve.

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