Concussions in Car Accidents

The sudden force of an impact experienced during vehicle collisions can cause drivers and occupants to suffer concussion injuries. When an accident happens, anyone inside the care will experience a very strong and abrupt head movement caused by impact force. This sudden and forceful movement is what results in concussions as it causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull. Accident scenarios which commonly result in concussions include:

  • Direct Impact: Direct impact occurs when the head of a driver or passenger strikes part of the car’s interior during the accident, such as the steering wheel, dashboard, window, etc. When the head has a direct impact during an accident it tends to cause more serious concussions, as well as visible external injuries to the head.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash refers to the very sudden and forceful back-and-forth movement of the head, neck, and shoulders that drivers and occupants experience in a sudden impact. This movement causes the brain to bounce around inside the skull, hitting the interior of the cranium and bruising the brain.
  • Rotation: Strong rotational force from certain types of accidents, such as rollovers or side impacts, can exert twisting forces on the brain inside the skull and cause a concussion.

Concussions are Brain Injuries

Concussions are often misperceived as minor injuries. This is partly because a concussion is an injury that is common in everyday life and typically doesn’t result in any obvious permanent consequences. Recently, however, new research has begun to change this perception of concussions as non-serious injuries. We now know that concussions can have serious long-term effects on the brain and should be treated a serious brain injuries.

Concussion Symptoms

Concussions and other brain injuries tend to cause varied and unique symptoms in different people. A concussion in one person can trigger severe symptoms, while the same concussion in another person can only have mild external symptoms. This is partly what makes concussions difficult to identify in accidents. You might suffer a significant concussion and not even realize it because your symptoms are subtle and not immediately obvious.

What complicates the situation even more is that in many cases the symptoms of a concussion are delayed. In many situations, an individual will not notice the symptoms of concussions until hours after the accident, or sometimes even days afterward. Below is a list of the most common symptoms of a concussion, which tend to vary from person to person.

  • Unconsciousness: many sudden concussions will cause a brief loss of consciousness in which the individual is “knocked out.” This is generally one of the most universally recognized and well-understood symptoms of a concussion.
  • Headaches: a concussion causes inflammation inside the skull which usually causes significant pain in the form of headaches. Headaches are one of the primary symptoms of a concussion as almost every concussion causes some type of headache.
  • Mental Confusion: temporary mental confusion or fogginess is another common symptom of a concussion. Amnesia or loss of memory can also be common.

Other potential concussion symptoms include ringing in the ears, nausea, dizziness or vertigo, blurred vision, fatigue, and light sensitivity.

Getting Damages for a Concussion in a Car Accident Case

If you suffer a concussion in an auto accident that is not your fault, you are entitled to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with the concussion. Concussions are one of the most common types of injuries that our accident attorneys see in auto tort cases.

To get damages for a concussion injury in an auto accident case, you will need to prove that you suffered a concussion and that it was caused by the accident. Unlike many other accident injuries such as broken bones, there is no clearly definitive diagnostic test or tool that can be used to diagnose a concussion. In other words, you can’t simply take an X-ray to see if you suffered a concussion. Instead, a concussion diagnosis must be made by a doctor based primarily on physical examination, supplemented by diagnostic images such as a CT scan or MRI.

The diagnostic images are not definitive with concussions, however. This means that symptoms and examination are the primary foundation for any concussion diagnosis. That means that in an accident case, the plaintiff will often need expert testimony from a doctor to establish the concussion.

Valuing Concussions in Auto Accident Cases

The potential settlement value of a concussion injury in an accident case is driven by 3 primary factors. The first factor is the severity of the concussion. Severe concussions with symptoms lasting for weeks or months will have a higher settlement value. A second factor that drives value in these cases is whether the concussion can be linked to some significant external head trauma. If the plaintiff suffers a major external head injury, it will help substantiate the concussion and increase the settlement value. The third factor in concussion cases is the credibility of the plaintiff. Concussions (and the symptoms such as headaches) are somewhat subjective, so if the plaintiff is credible and believable it goes a long way towards bolstering the value of their case.

Concussion Settlements and Verdicts

Listed below are recent jury verdicts and publicly reported settlements in accident cases in which one of the plaintiffs’ primary injuries was a concussion. Keep in mind, however, that a concussion is almost never the only injury alleged in an auto accident case. Rather, a concussion is usually one of several injuries alleged by the plaintiff. This makes it difficult to pinpoint a separate settlement value on concussions.

$69,479 Verdict (Colorado 2023): The plaintiff suffered a concussion and injuries to his head, neck, back, and right shoulder when his vehicle was rear-ended by the defendant. Liability was admitted, but the defendant disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s damages. The jury award only included economic damages and nothing was awarded for pain and suffering.

$83,063 Verdict (Connecticut 2023): In this premises liability case, the plaintiff fell while walking across a floor mat that had become caught in a sliding automatic door at a Walmart store. She fell on her head and face and suffered a nose fracture, facial bruising, concussion, and headaches. The award included $60,000 for pain and suffering and $23,063 for medical expenses.

$40,000 Settlement (Pennsylvania 2023): The plaintiff was struck in the face by a tree branch while sitting on the top, open level of a touring bus. He claimed that he suffered a concussion, blurred vision, oscillopsia, and persistent sensory loss, facial deformities. The case settled for $40k.

$53,319 Verdict (Georgia 2023): The plaintiff allegedly suffered a concussion resulting in cervicogenic headaches and cervical facet syndrome along with back and shoulder injuries when his vehicle was struck from behind by the defendant when stopped for traffic.

Contact Us About Your Accident Case

Our accident lawyers have handled countless concussion accident cases over the years. Call us at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.

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