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Concussion (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury)

Concussions usually result from a blow to the head, and are common in falls, sports, and car accidents. Mild Traumatic brain injury (MTBI) can result in permanent injury with major neurologic and psychological problems.  MTBI usually occurs after a blow to the head, but it can also come from having one’s head and upper body violently shaken.  Loss of consciousness is not required for a diagnosis of MTBI or Post-Concussion Syndrome.  Traditional imaging studies, such as Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are not nearly sensitive enough to detect individual axonal injuries, or even relatively large groups of axonal injuries.   CT and MRI are designed to detect areas of bleeding so these forms of testing alone may not reveal the extent of injuries.

MTBI has become a silent epidemic affecting at least 1.4 million people each year in the United States, according to a report conducted in 2006 by the CDC.  Falls are the leading cause of MTBI.  Of those diagnosed with MTBI, 50,000 die and 235,000 are hospitalized.  Notably, 1.1 million people affected by MTBI are treated in the ER and released.

Symptoms

Signs of a concussion include excessive fatigue (which is often underrated often by insurance companies), headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, confusion, problems concentrating, sleepiness, vomiting, mood swings and irritability, ringing in ears, sensitivity to light, impaired memory, impaired judgment, impaired speech, problems with physical coordination, fainting, and related pain and suffering, including PTSD and anxiety.  In some cases, the person appears fine and without symptoms, but may experience them days or weeks later.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

A condition where concussion symptoms last for weeks, months and, in some cases, years.

Damages for MTBI & Concussion-Related Injuries

As part of a personal injury case, you can claim damages for a concussion if you prove that someone else was responsible for the accident, and that the concussion was caused by the accident, as evidenced by your medical documentation.  Your doctor must clearly state in his/her medical opinion that the concussion was caused by the accident.

Pain and Suffering Claims

You may be compensated for your pain and suffering.  Your testimony, friends, family, and your doctor’s testimony will help prove your pain and suffering.  You’ll need to state your symptoms and complaints, how long you have had them, and how much they impact your daily life.

Seeking Legal Help

It may be difficult to prove your condition if your doctors are not all in agreement about the cause of the injury or if there is difficulty distinguishing your concussion symptoms from a separate problem with similar symptoms, such as frequent headaches.

The jury will want to hear from you as to exactly what your symptoms and complaints are, how long they have lasted, how disabling they are, and how generally they have affected your life. You will have to be able to explain all this to the jury at trial, and so you will want to work carefully with your lawyer to prepare your pain and suffering testimony.

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 Traumatic Brain Injury. When trying to settle an MTBI or post-concussion syndrome case, you will run into the problem that insurers like their claims to be straightforward and obvious. They like broken leg cases. Everyone knows what a broken leg is, how to diagnose it, how long the recovery period is, and what the symptoms are. Because MTBI and post-concussion syndrome is not so clear, insurers may not offer top dollar, and you may be forced into going to trial.  The jury will also want to make sure that it understands exactly what your injury is, and MTBI or post-concussion syndrome can be difficult to distinguish from other headache-like conditions.