After a serious head injury, it's important to know your legal rights.
Concussions, one of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents, are often misunderstood and undervalued by insurance companies. While terms like "mild concussion" or "mild traumatic brain injury" are used to describe certain types of concussions, the reality is that concussions are brain injuries that can have serious and long-term consequences if not treated properly and in a timely manner.
In some cases, untreated head injuries can lead to permanent brain damage. That's why it is crucial for individuals to be aware of the symptoms and warning signs of a concussion and to seek medical attention immediately.
Unfortunately, it's common for insurance companies to try to lowball concussion victims by using a variety of tactics, whether it's offering a quick settlement to resolve the claim before the full extent of the injuries and damages are known or delaying the claim process to make the victim more likely to accept a lower settlement offer. That's when experienced legal representation can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of the case.
At Szantho Law Firm, our dedicated legal team has seen first-hand how difficult it can be for crash victims to find their way forward after suffering a concussion in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence. If you or a loved one were hit by a negligent driver in New Mexico and sustained a concussion, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your potential legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced New Mexico car accident lawyer. We have offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
What is a concussion?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is 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 around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
The CDC also notes motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of traumatic brain injury, including concussions.
In a car accident, a concussion can occur if the head experiences a significant impact or sudden movement, such as hitting the steering wheel or windshield, or if the head is violently jerked in a different direction. This can cause the brain to move inside the skull and potentially result in injury. Additionally, if an individual is thrown from the vehicle during the accident, the head can also be injured upon impact with the ground.
The most common warning signs of a concussion after a car accident include:
- Headache: Ranging from mild to severe, a headache is one of the most common symptoms of a concussion.
- Dizziness or confusion: Feeling dizzy or confused can signify that the brain is not functioning properly after a head injury.
- Nausea or vomiting: Some people may experience nausea or vomiting after a head injury, which can be a concussion symptom.
- Fatigue or drowsiness: Fatigue or drowsiness can signify that the brain is not receiving enough oxygen after a head injury.
- Memory loss or difficulty concentrating: A concussion can cause memory loss or difficulty concentrating, which can be a sign of a more severe injury.
- Sensitivity to light or noise: Some people may experience sensitivity to light or noise after a head injury, which can be a symptom of a concussion.
- Loss of consciousness: A loss of consciousness, even for a short period, can be a sign of a severe head injury.
- Changes in mood, personality, or behavior: A concussion can cause changes in mood, personality, or behavior, which can be a sign of a more severe injury.
It is important to note that not all people will experience all of these signs and symptoms. As such, you should always seek immediate medical attention after a car accident, even if you don't think you have a concussion or if you only have mild symptoms. A doctor will be able to diagnose and document your injuries properly.
How are concussions diagnosed?
Doctors use a variety of tests to diagnose a concussion. These tests may include the following:
- Physical examination: The doctor will examine the patient for signs of a head injury, such as bruises, cuts, or swelling. They will also check for any signs of neurological problems, such as changes in pupil size, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, and coordination problems.
- Cognitive tests: The doctor may use cognitive tests, such as the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) or the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS), to assess the patient's memory, attention, and reaction time.
- Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT): The ImPACT test is a computerized test that measures cognitive function, including memory, reaction time, and attention.
- Neuropsychological testing: The doctor may use neuropsychological tests, such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) or the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), to assess the patient's cognitive function and to detect any changes in the patient's cognitive abilities.
- Imaging studies: The doctor may order imaging studies, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to detect any structural damage to the brain.
It is important to note that a concussion diagnosis is primarily based on clinical presentation and history, not just on a single test. The patient's symptoms and the results of these tests will be used together to make a diagnosis.
How do you treat a concussion?
Treatment for a concussion typically includes rest and close observation. The main goals of treatment are to manage symptoms, prevent complications, and allow the brain to heal.
- Rest: The brain needs time to heal after a concussion, so it is important to rest both physically and mentally. This means avoiding activities that could cause another head injury, such as contact sports or other high-risk activities.
- Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can manage headaches and other pain symptoms. Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe a medication specifically for a symptom such as nausea or insomnia.
- Follow-up care: People who have had a concussion should be monitored for symptoms and complications and follow up with their doctor for further evaluation and treatment.
- Rehabilitation: If needed, people with a concussion may be referred to a rehabilitation program to help them regain their cognitive, physical, and emotional functioning. This can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy.
- Return to normal activities: People who have had a concussion should avoid returning to normal activities—especially those that involve the risk of another head injury—until they have been cleared by a doctor. The doctor will advise when it is safe to return to normal activities and might even set a step-by-step plan.
It is important to note that the recovery time for a concussion can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the individual. In some cases, symptoms can take weeks or even months to fully resolve.
Talk to a car accident lawyer about your legal options.
To file a lawsuit for a concussion after a car accident, you have to prove that the negligence of another party caused the concussion. Once you're able to prove negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
However, the process is complex, and if you're not careful, you could lose out on the compensation you're entitled to under New Mexico law. Remember, insurance companies aren't charities. They are in business to make money, even if that means paying you less than you deserve for your concussion-related expenses.
The clock is ticking to take action if you've been injured in a New Mexico car accident, so it is important to act quickly and consult with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. At Szantho Law Firm, attorney Andras Szantho is a legal warrior ready to fight for your rights and demand the compensation you deserve. Discover what our law firm can do for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.