A concussion is defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a type of traumatic brain injury (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 or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.
Due to recent media coverage most people think of concussion as an occurence related to sports, especially football: but they are also a very serious and often unrecognized result of car accidents or falls. A new study conducted by the CDC has shown that in recent years motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI among all age groups in the United States, and they were the leading cause for children and young adults aged 5-24 years. Motor vehicle crashes were also the leading cause of hospitalizations for adolescents and persons aged 15-44 years due to TBI. These injuries often occur when a driver or passenger suffers a whiplash-like blow to the skull when their head strikes the steering wheel, dashboard, or the back of the seat.
Most concussions do not cause loss of consciousness. The symptoms of concussion can include headaches, an inability to concentrate, and the impairment of memory, judgment, balance and/or coordination. Most concussions are mild, and the majority of people who suffer concussions will fully recover in a short period of time.
In some cases, however, the resulting damage to brain cells and subsequent changes in brain chemistry can lead to serious nerve damage. Known as Post-concussion syndrome, it is a another complex condition in which the patient’s symptoms can last from weeks to a year or more after the concussion. Approximately 10% of people who get concussions suffer from post-concussion syndrome. Children that are victims of concussion are more prone to develop more serious conditions over time.
The symptoms of post-concussion syndrome are similar to those of concussion, but can also include new complications such as dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, light and noise sensitivity, and behavioral or emotional changes. The symptoms are worse in some people than in others.
These long term effects can influence all aspects of people’s lives, including their relationships with family and friends, their ability to work, and to maintain other normal daily activities.
Post-concussion headaches may be similar to migraine headaches, but are usually compared to tension headaches. The physiological aspects of post-concussion are still not completely understood. Medical experts still do not agree on exactly why some people get post-concussion syndrome, how to establish a firm diagnosis, or how and why post-concussion syndrome occurs physically in the body.
Concussions are diagnosed using neuro-psychological tests on reflexes and the five senses, as well as cognitive tests for memory, concentration, or ability to recall information.
For severe brain injury imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs are normally used to create images of the brain to assess its condition, but these imaging tests can not locate or diagnose milder injuries. Proving that a person has a concussion can be difficult, as it is usually only detected by the neuro-psychological and cognitive tests. A concussion case often requires multiple independent experts; if you are seeking compensation for your injuries, it is a very good idea to get the approval of more than one doctor to completely verify that you indeed do have a concussion.
This aspect of documenting a concussion is a very important step in achieving compensation for a concussion case; it builds the basis of your argument by proving that you have in fact been affected by an accident, and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. You can only claim damages for a concussion injury as part of a personal injury case if your doctor believes that it is related to the accident that is the basis of your lawsuit, and states that in their medical records.
The biggest problem with claiming damages for post-concussion syndrome is that its symptoms can sometimes be vague and that reasonable physicians can differ as to whether a specific patient indeed has post-concussion syndrome. This is also true for more severe cases of TBI.
If you believe that you suffered a concussion and your doctor does not, or if you believe that your post-concussion syndrome was caused by your accident and your doctor does not, you won't be able to claim damages for the injury. If that situation occurs you would need to find another doctor who agreed with you before you could include those damages in your injury claim.
In addition to the medical experts, the claimant can also use family, colleagues and friends as witnesses to any suffering and difficulties that affect their daily life.
Recent concussion cases in the NFL have proven this as an important step towards maximizing the amount of compensation which you receive. On April 22, 2015, a federal judge gave final approval to a class-action lawsuit settlement between the National Football League (NFL) and thousands of former players to provide up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma. In this case there were several categories of compensation, all based on a doctor’s diagnosis, with maximum payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million. For instance, an ex-player who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease could receive up to about $4 million. This means that a doctor’s diagnosis could mean the difference of the range of $3.5 million, proving how important it is to get a concussion properly documented as soon as possible.