Concussions in significant car and truck accidents are common place but often not diagnosed or treated properly. While there are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon, a major factor is that not all concussions involve actual loss of consciousness.
Societally, there is a tendency to think of a concussion as being a complete loss of consciousness, like a boxer being knocked out or a football player on the turf after a hard hit to the head. Yes, these are demonstrable concussions but the reality is that many concussions are not nearly so obvious but can potentially be just as dangerous.
So in looking at this issue it helps to have a definition to work with from the start. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines a concussion as " an injury to the brain that results in a temporary loss of normal brain function." https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Concussion
They further observe that " there are no external signs of head trauma" and finally that " in many cases, a person with a concussion never loses consciousness." Okay you don't necessarily have any overt physical injury and you don't per se lose consciousness, how do you and your healthcare providers know?
The answer is that observation of post-crash symptoms are likely the best way to help diagnose concussions. Obviously, people close to the individual who may have suffered a concussion are excellent sources of information about whether the victim is exhibiting problems that were not present before the crash or other incident.
Common post-concussive symptoms include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Nausea and/or dizziness
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Excessive moodiness
- Memory Difficulties
- Visual difficulties
- Problems with balance
This list is not comprehensive but provides some basis for self-evaluation. Obviously, if you suspect you have been concussed, tell the people who populate your day to day life so they can help you evaluate those symptoms that might not be so obvious such as confusion of memory difficulties. Self-diagnosis is tricky and potentially dangerous so if you suspect that you have had a concussion alert others including most prominently, your doctor.
So what should you do if you suspect that you have been concussed and that it hasn't been properly diagnosed or treated? The answer, get to a doctor asap and make sure they see you and note your constellation of symptoms. Neurologists and neurosurgeons are likely the preferred species of doctor to diagnose and deal with this injury but any doctor should be able to help ensure proper evaluation and treatment options.
Okay, so what are the car and truck accident issues that are trumpeted in the title to this article? The answer is that many car and truck crash victims aren't aware that they have sustained " a temporary loss of normal brain function" and consequently don't report this issue at the scene of the crash to paramedics or police or to healthcare providers at the hospital. Also, is you sustain an acute injury like a broken bone, your focus will be on that injury and not on the more subtle post-crash concussions symptoms.
The insurance industry is very systematic in reviewing medical records to point out injuries claimed by car crash victims that are not initially reported. Invariably, car accident victims who are seen by ambulance and hospital personnel are asked if they sustained loss of consciousness and often the answer is no. Often this answer is utterly incorrect.
If subsequently the injured claimant seeks compensation for concussion treatment you can bet the insurance adjuster will say something like "well we reduced your medical bills claimed by five thousand dollars because there was no report of loss of consciousness and we don't see the need for that mri of the brain."
Manifestly, one cannot go back in time and tell hospital or ambulance personnel that "now that I think about it I may have been concussed" but you can make sure your attorney knows your belief that you were concussed and more importantly let your healthcare providers know what symptoms you have suffered from and for how long so they can amend your diagnoses and treatment plans to include possible concussion.
Finally, it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with concussion cases and understands the potential difficulties in successfully claiming and proving these cases. Call Clark and Steinhorn, LLC at (301) 317-1001 and we can help.