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How to Define Concussions and What You Need to Know About Them

How to Define Concussions and What You Need to Know About ThemConcussions occur regularly throughout the country. A wide variety of accidents can lead to concussions, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, sports accidents, and more.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion in an accident, you should reach out to an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney to determine your eligibility to seek compensation for the concussion injury and all related expenses. Read on for more information about concussions and injured individuals’ right to pursue compensation.

Concussion Statistics

Every year, approximately 2.8 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI.) A concussion is a common form of traumatic brain injury. Concussions occur across all age groups and in all kinds of circumstances, such as falls at home, sports, recreational activities, and car crashes.

According to the National Safety Council, over 4 million people were seriously injured in car accidents in a recent year. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of TBI-related death, especially among adults aged 20 to 24 years. In an accident, the vehicle may stop or change direction suddenly. When that happens, drivers and passengers may suffer a blow to the head. Despite motor vehicle safety features, such as headrests and airbags, these accidents may result in concussions, even in a slow-speed crash.

What Is a Concussion?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma, often a blow or jolt to the head, causes damage to the brain. Traumatic brain injury is an umbrella term that includes many types of conditions. Victims of traumatic brain injuries may suffer anything from a mild concussion, involving headaches and confusion, to brain injuries with serious, permanent, or even fatal consequences.

Concussions are one of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents, particularly in rear-end or head-on collisions. The injured person’s head may hit the steering wheel, headrest, window, or windshield, or the sharp back-and-forth movement of the victim’s head can cause the brain to shake violently.

Sometimes, concussions and other brain injuries are called invisible injuries because, at first, there is no visible harm from the accident. Although concussions affect brain function, an individual may have a concussion and not know it, or may not discover the injury until days or weeks later. The victim may or may not lose consciousness from the injury, but there is a range of potentially serious physical and psychological effects.

The brain consists of soft tissue. Surrounding spinal fluid cushions the brain, and it is cradled in the hard shell of the skull. When damaged, the brain does not function correctly. Regardless of how your doctor grades your concussion, treat it as a severe injury.

Concussion Symptoms

Concussions are often tricky to diagnose. Though you may have a visible cut or bruise on your head, you can’t see a concussion.

Symptoms that may indicate a concussion include:

  • Persistent head or neck pain;
  • Dizziness or balance problems;
  • Slowness or difficulty in thinking, concentrating, speaking, or making decisions;
  • Confusion;
  • Memory loss;
  • Exhaustion or lack of energy and motivation;
  • Disrupted sleep patterns;
  • Unexplained mood changes;
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Blurred vision, ringing ears, or sensitivity to light and sound; and
  • Loss of smell or taste.

Seek immediate medical care if you experience:

  • Headache is worse or does not go away;
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination;
  • Significant nausea or repeated vomiting;
  • Seizures;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Inability to wake up;
  • Symptoms have worsened;
  • Symptoms have not gone away after 10 to 14 days; or
  • You have a history of multiple concussions.

Types of Concussions

A concussion is a closed head injury, meaning that nothing penetrated the skull.

Five types of concussions have different symptoms and require different initial treatments:

  • Vestibular. The vestibular function controls your ability to balance. You may feel dizzy as if the room is spinning. You may have difficulty stabilizing your vision when you move your head. Circumstances such as active movements, crowds, or busy environments may trigger symptoms. Vestibular-ocular physical therapy often helps control symptoms.
  • Ocular-motor. This refers to a concussion that affects the ocular or visual part of the brain. If you suffer from an ocular concussion, you will have trouble tracking objects with your eyes. Some have problems reading, scrolling on a computer screen, driving, or even watching a moving car when crossing the street. Eye strain, nausea, and light sensitivity are common.
  • Cognitive/fatigue. Those suffering from this type of concussion may have difficulty forming new memories, retrieving old memories, processing new information, and organizing thoughts and behavior. Symptoms typically include fatigue.
  • Post-traumatic headaches or migraines. The victim may see halos around lights, hear very loud sounds, or experience other forms of sensitivity to light and sound, triggering intense headaches.
  • Anxiety/mood. Concussions can affect a person’s personality. Those suffering from these concussions may experience hypervigilance, anger, irritability, depression, and fatigue.

Experts say that the types are often interdependent, which is not necessarily bad. For example, treating vestibular and ocular symptoms may improve other symptoms, such as headaches or cognitive problems

Treatment and Recovery

Every concussion is different, even for the same individual. Therefore, the symptoms and recovery period will vary from person to person and from one concussion to another. Younger children and older adults tend to take longer to recover. Those who don’t treat their symptoms or who try to hurry their recovery will likely need longer to recover.

There’s no specific cure for concussion, but you can help your brain heal and speed recovery. Rest and restricting activities allow the brain to recover. The doctor may prescribe medications or therapies to treat the symptoms. Immediately after a concussion, in what doctors call the acute phase, medical experts advise 24 to 72 hours of rest and restricted activity. A person who has suffered a head injury should not be alone for the first 48 hours and should not take medication without a doctor’s advice. Following the acute phase, the injured person can begin slowly and carefully returning to their normal activities. Factors that may affect recovery include pre-existing neurological issues, a history of concussions, and age.

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Approximately 10 percent of individuals who get a concussion have post-concussion syndrome, which means the symptoms can last for weeks, months, or longer. Symptoms are similar to concussion syndromes but can also include new complications. Common symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. The causes and contributing factors of post-concussion syndrome are not fully understood.

Factors That May Speed Concussion Recovery

Your doctor can give you specific recovery tips, but these suggestions may help speed your recovery time.

  • Avoid unnecessary movement of your head and neck. Minimizing the jostling of your head and neck helps give your brain a chance to recover. You should probably avoid strenuous exercise, weight lifting, or high-speed rides, such as roller coasters, for a while following your injury.
  • Reduce screen time. Eye strain from too much screen time can make headaches worse. It is usually a good idea to avoid screens two hours before sleeping to help with sleep problems.
  • Limit exposure to bright lights and loud sounds. After a concussion, you might notice that you’re especially sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds. You may want to avoid crowded, noisy places and bright fluorescent lighting for a few days while you recover.
  • Stay hydrated. There is some evidence that dehydration may increase your risk of concussion. Also, staying hydrated is important while your body is healing.
  • Get plenty of rest. This is one of the most important steps that you can take while recovering from a concussion to promote a speedy recovery.
  • Eat more protein. A diet rich in protein may improve some of the cognitive symptoms of a concussion. It is also a good idea to eat foods rich in omega-3 and antioxidants, as such foods may improve your recovery and overall health.
  • Don’t rush your recovery. Even if your symptoms come and go, resist the urge to push yourself and resume your regular activities too soon. Getting the rest you need will pay off in the end.
  • Follow all your doctor’s orders. Your doctor will probably give you specific tips concerning your activities, medications, or rehabilitation. Take your doctor’s advice, not everyone else’s. If you have concerns about your doctor’s advice, get a second medical opinion.

Suing After a Concussion Resulting From a Florida Accident

Florida is a no-fault state, which means that when there is a car accident, both parties turn to their auto insurance policies to make claims, regardless of who was at fault. Florida drivers must have at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance included in their coverage; however, this may not cover all of your losses. Therefore, if the damages resulting from your injury exceed $10,000, you might qualify to file a lawsuit to collect the necessary compensation.

Alternatively, permanent injuries can automatically entitle you to file a lawsuit. Even if the injuries are worth less than $10,000, you can still go to court if the injuries affect bodily functions on an ongoing basis. Florida law defines the term “permanent injury” as: “(a) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (b) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; (c) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or (d) death.”

In some cases, concussions may cause permanent damage. Injured individuals must clearly establish the permanent harm that they have suffered. It is often difficult to prove post-concussion syndrome because the indications are not always consistent, and doctors may disagree about the diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome.

Medical records and the testimony of medical experts is essential in concussion cases. The doctor must establish that you have suffered a concussion and that, consequently, your brain suffered permanent damage.

The Florida statute of limitations sets forth the deadline for filing a lawsuit. The Florida statute of limitations for traumatic brain injury cases is four years after the accident occurred. Wrongful death plaintiffs only have two years to file a lawsuit in Florida. It is important to know what time limits apply to your case, so it is best to speak with a licensed attorney as soon as possible.

Compensation in a Concussion Case

Personal Injury Lawyer Orlando, FL - Michael T. Gibson
Brain Injury Attorney, Michael T. Gibson

Concussions may lead to catastrophic personal and financial losses. Even a mild concussion can cause long-term problems. Severe injuries may involve expensive tests, long term medical care, rehabilitation, and ongoing personal care. Injured persons often can’t work or deal with relationships.

To obtain compensation in a traumatic brain injury case, you must prove that someone acted negligently and that the negligence caused the accident and injury. Negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” It is important to gather and preserve all evidence of negligence as soon as possible after the crash.

Damages may include:

  • Special damages – These damages cover financial losses or out-of-pocket expenses. You may recover lost wages, lost future earning capacity, medical bills, expenses for future treatment or assistance, property damages, and in the case of wrongful death, funeral expenses.
  • General damages – With general damages, you may receive compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, mental anguish, shock, and anxiety.

Have You Suffered a Concussion in an Accident?

The effects of a concussion may prove temporary or permanent. They may affect vision, hearing, memory, physical, mental, and emotional functioning. If you or someone you love suffered a concussion, you need to consult an experienced and compassionate brain injury attorney today.

Are You in Need of Legal Assistance?

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We know that accidents don’t always happen during business hours. That’s why our experienced lawyers are standing by, 24/7/365, to listen to your story, evaluate your claim, and help you decide what to do next. Call us now and we’ll see if we can pursue compensation for your injuries!

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