Experts In This Article
- Michael T. Gibson, Esq., Lead Attorney & President at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, Catastrophic Injuries Expert and Licensed for 17 years
- Todd Curtin Esq., Partner & Lead Trial Attorney at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney and Licensed for 8 years
- Amit Jhalli, Esq. Attorney at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, Personal Injury Pre-suit Investigation & Brain Injury Expert and Licensed for 9 years
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). All concussions, whether mild or severe, stem from the brain jostling within the cranium rapidly back and forth. Common causes are a head injury, as in a car accident where your head hits the steering wheel or the dashboard. But concussions can also result from your body or part of it jolting hard back and forth, as bodies may do in a car that goes off the road. You don’t have to hit your head to suffer a concussion!
Concussions range from mild to severe. It’s very important to know the symptoms of a mild concussion for several reasons.
The Symptoms May Be Mild at First
First, if you don’t know the symptoms at all, you may not even realize you suffered a concussion. Many symptoms, such as headaches, can be attributed to other causes. Some, such as sadness, may hardly be noticeable. If you don’t realize you have a concussion, you may not see a doctor or receive adequate treatment.
It’s now known that even a mild traumatic brain injury can potentially have harmful effects in later life. Concussions may cause chemical changes in the brain. While research is still ongoing, it’s very important to receive medical treatment so you don’t further strain your cognitive abilities and cause lasting damage. When these concussion symptoms persist beyond the expected recovery window, it’s known as post-concussion syndrome.
Dispelling Myths About Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Second, many people believe myths about concussions, such as “you definitely will pass out if you have one,” and “if you weren’t rendered unconscious, you definitely don’t have one.” Plus, the myth that links a hit on the head to a concussion is very durable—and again, it’s just not true. If you know the symptoms, you can be appropriately cautious about treating yourself and seeing a doctor. You can even help dispel the myths.
Post-Concussion Syndrome Settlement Value
Third, if you receive a concussion due to a car accident or other cause for which someone else is responsible, you are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. In a world in which medical treatment can cost a great deal, it’s crucial to get the financial compensation you deserve. An experienced attorney can help you learn about your options for pursuing a personal injury claim.
The Most Common Symptoms
So what are the symptoms of a mild concussion? Immediately after a car accident, you or an observer may see the following signs of a concussion. (Some of these can also indicate a severe concussion.)
- Severe headache or a headache that becomes worse as time goes on
- Seizures or convulsions.
- Lost consciousness
- Loss of balance
- Slurring when speaking
- Larger than normal pupils in the eye
- Unequal size pupils
- Extreme drowsiness or challenges in waking up
- Increasing confusion
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the extremities
Symptoms of a concussion may not manifest right away, though. They can surface over the next several hours or even several days. The symptoms of traumatic brain injuries in adults are:
- Chronic headaches
- Repeated vomiting
- Balance difficulties
- Double vision or blurred vision
- Depression or sadness, or not feeling right
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Light and noise sensitivity
- Tiredness or drowsiness
- Feeling foggy
- Challenges in paying attention/memory
- Sleep pattern changes (such as sleeping a lot more or notably less than normal)
- Difficulties in concentration or understanding
- Irritation, nervousness, or anxiety
Post-concussion syndrome symptoms can look similar to the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries, with the exception that they endure for much longer.
The symptoms in babies and young children can manifest slightly differently.
Since young children can’t always express what they feel, parents and caregivers should take them to a doctor if they notice:
- Excessive crying
- Listlessness and tiring easily
- Irritability and crankiness
- Dazed appearance
- Loss of balance and unsteady walking
- Change in sleeping or eating patterns
- Lack of interest in favorite activities, such as playing with toys
What to Do if You Have Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
If you notice any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. Treatment may include staying away from certain common activities, such as reading and computer work. If you don’t see a doctor, you may inadvertently perform at least some of the activities people with a concussion shouldn’t do.
Car accidents are by far the most common cause of concussions. Survivors of a car accident should always see a doctor as soon as possible. Only a doctor can check accident victims out thoroughly, to catch possible concussions as well as other potential injuries. Remember, you don’t have to feel injured to suffer injury in a car accident.
You should also see a doctor promptly if you are in any other situation that injures your head, such as a sports tackle or improper dive. Sports injuries are also a common source of concussions.
Other common causes of brain injuries are explosions (such as from a construction site or military campaign), physical abuse (such as being shaken or hit around the head), and other activities that jostles the head. Anyone involved in these should see a doctor.
Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations
Follow all doctor’s recommendations to the letter, and keep all documentation and paperwork from doctor’s visits.
These steps are most important for your health, of course. But they also provide valuable evidence in case you want to pursue a compensation claim. An insurance company or a court of law will always need evidence of the injury, as well as the damage it caused and what the effects are.
There’s another important reason to keep all documentation and paperwork and follow all doctor’s recommendations. If you approach an insurance company for compensation, they are all too likely to want to minimize the dollar amount of your claim. They are for-profit businesses that want to maximize their profits, whether that’s at your expense or not.
They are not above claiming that you weren’t seriously injured. They may also try to claim that the issue got worse because you didn’t follow the doctor’s orders—and that that’s your fault, not theirs.
If they realize that you didn’t see a doctor after an auto accident, for example, they can try to argue that you weren’t injured in the car crash—because after all, injured people go to a doctor, right?
They can also claim that you’re not following orders means that you really weren’t feeling symptoms—because if someone is getting headaches that can get better with rest, they’d rest, right?
Their allegations don’t have to ring true to have a damaging effect on your damage compensation. The most prudent thing to do is to keep your documentation and follow all medical recommendations.
Treat Mild Concussions Seriously
The term “mild concussion” misleads victims and their families. Yes, victims may not be at risk of permanent brain damage, as they might be from a more serious TBI.
But mild concussions can predispose people to further concussions if their head is jostled. Several concussions can lead to more serious brain injury and may lead to permanent damage, especially if the sufferer receives another one before the symptoms of the first have entirely cleared up.
Concussions and Death
While it’s unlikely that a mild concussion will prove fatal, concussions can conceivably cause death, due to brain swelling or bleeding in the brain. That’s yet another reason, of course, to receive a thorough check-up from a doctor after a car crash or other event that can cause a concussion.
It’s rare, but a concussion can lead to bleeding in the brain or brain swelling that can be fatal. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to carefully watch a concussed person in the first 24 to 48 hours after the concussion and to seek immediate care if symptoms worsen.
Treatment for Mild Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome
Mild concussion treatment primarily focuses on mental and physical rest. You need to avoid any activity that taxes you cognitively.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you restrict the following activities for at least a few days.
- Working or reading on digital devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones
- Watching television
- Listening to music
- Physical activity, such as sports, walking, jogging, playing tennis, or even house-cleaning
After several days of rest, gradually begin activities again. However, if they cause you to feel confused or fatigued, stop them again and consult a physician.
There isn’t currently a standardized treatment for post-concussion syndrome. However, your physician can work with you to address the symptoms using a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and rehabilitative therapies. Some also experience post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety following brain injuries and the events that led to them. Your post-concussion syndrome recovery plan might include psychiatric care to address these symptoms, as well.
How Do You Prove Post-Concussion Symptoms?
There is no one singular test used to diagnose post-concussion syndrome. However, your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI to look for structural disturbances in the brain. Head injuries, especially those stemming from a mild concussion, don’t always cause structural changes large enough to detect with these scans. You may also be referred to an ear nose and throat doctor (ENT) to address symptoms like dizziness and headaches.
As with other kinds of personal injury cases, providing strong evidence to support your case will depend on the unique circumstances of the individual. Your attorney can help you determine what evidence is necessary to prove post-concussion syndrome in a personal injury claim.
How Much Can You Claim in Post-Concussion Syndrome Settlement Value?
If you are injured by the actions of another, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation under personal injury law generally. Why? Because an accident or event caused by another party can result from their negligence, or failure to perform the duties they were expected to perform (such as driving safely). Negligent parties become financially liable for the injuries caused by their negligence.
Generally, you can seek compensation in the following areas.
- Medical bills—for a wide range of medical treatment, from doctor’s visits to prescription medication
- Wages lost from work—for wages you didn’t receive due to an accident or its treatment
- Personal property—for property damaged or lost
- Pain and suffering—for physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
No-fault States and Car Insurance
The situation is slightly more complicated in the case of a car accident in a no-fault state. Here, injured parties are expected to turn first to their own insurance coverage to obtain compensation for medical treatment and wages lost from work.
That’s why registered drivers must often carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as well as liability insurance. PIP is the coverage that protects the car owner (and their family) in case of injury, regardless of who causes the accident. In Florida, for example, PIP covers 80 percent of all reasonable medical expenses up to $10,000.
No-fault differs from a “fault” system, in which drivers pursue claims from the at-fault party’s insurance. No-fault systems are intended to streamline insurance compensation for injuries and to keep insurance costs at a reasonable level.
Anyone aware of medical costs today, however, realizes that a limit of $10,000 does not go very far in covering medical treatment. The question then often arises, is there any way to recover an amount closer to the expenses you actually incurred?
There is. The law usually allows some victims to step outside of the no-fault system if they suffered a serious injury. If they can step outside of no-fault, they can pursue compensation through the at-fault party’s insurance company or a lawsuit against the at-fault party in civil court.
In addition, stepping outside of the no-fault system allows victims to pursue pain and suffering, which PIP does not cover.
While it varies depending on the state, serious injuries in Florida are defined as:
- Broken bone(s)
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
- A significant limitation of the use of a body function or system, or
- Substantially full disability for 90 days.
Can a victim of a mild concussion qualify to step outside of no-fault, given this? It’s certainly possible. First, many people who suffer a concussion in a car accident suffer other injuries as well. If you broke your arm as well as receiving a concussion, you may step outside of no-fault.
Second, the symptoms of mild concussions vary. Some of them may make working at a former occupation difficult or may limit the use of a body part. In that case, you may claim limitation or disability.
The best solution is to consult a brain injury attorney.
Note that the PIP coverage and no-fault system applies only to mild concussions suffered from car accidents. If you suffered a concussion for any other reason, the rules of personal injury apply. You can approach the at-fault party’s insurance company for compensation or file a lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
A personal injury lawsuit must usually be filed within a specific deadline, or the courts will refuse to hear the case. In Florida, for example, that deadline is four years for all personal injury claims, including car accidents. (The deadline is called a statute of limitations.)
However, if you receive a concussion due to the fault of another party, it’s prudent to consult an attorney as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more chance that evidence will be destroyed or damaged—and evidence is crucial to just compensation. Without it, insurance companies may not pay out a claim and courts may not rule in your favor.