“Even mild concussions should not be taken lightly.” These words from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) underscore the importance of speaking with an attorney if you have been diagnosed with a concussion following a car accident in South Carolina.
Indeed, while less-severe concussions may be classified as “mild,” the reality is that there is no such thing as a minor brain injury. There is a growing body of medical research which shows that all concussions need to be taken seriously; and, in the case of a car accident, this means seeking medical and legal help as soon as possible.
Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Concussions
While the initial symptoms of a concussion can make it difficult, if not impossible, to follow your regular routine, the long-term effects of a concussion can be significantly more profound. Although most people diagnosed with “mild” concussions will be able to make a full recovery in a matter of months, there is a very real potential for lingering effects, and individuals diagnosed with “moderate” and “severe” concussions can experience significant long-term consequences. In addition, as explained by the AANS, “[a] second concussion soon after the first one does not have to be very strong for its effects to be permanently disabling or deadly.”
Individuals who suffer concussions in car accidents are also at risk of developing post-concussion syndrome. While the effects of post-concussion syndrome typically last no more than three months, it is possible for accident victims to experience headaches, dizziness, and other effects for a year or longer.
With these risks in mind, anyone who experiences symptoms of a concussion following a car accident should seek medical treatment immediately. It is also important to speak with an attorney about filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. The financial and non-financial costs of concussions can be substantial, and concussed accident victims may be entitled to compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future loss of income
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and enjoyment of life
- Other types of financial and non-financial losses
Understanding the Risk of Other Traumatic Brain Injuries
Another reason to seek help after a car accident is the risk of a more-serious traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even if you have reviewed a list of symptoms and self-diagnosed a concussion, it is important not to overlook the possibility that your symptoms may also be indicative of another form of TBI. As explained by the AANS:
“The skull protects the brain against penetrating trauma, but [it] does not absorb all the impact of a violent force. The brain is [also] cushioned inside the skull by the surrounding cerebrospinal fluid. Despite this, an abrupt blow to the head, or even a rapid deceleration, can cause the brain to contact the inner side of the skull. There is a potential for tearing of blood vessels, pulling of nerve fibers and bruising of the brain substance.
“Sometimes the blow can result in microscopic damage to the brain cells without obvious structural damage visible on a CT scan. In severe cases, the brain tissue can begin to swell. Since the brain cannot escape the rigid confines of the skull, severe swelling can compress the brain and its blood vessels, limiting the flow of blood. Without adequate blood flow, the brain does not receive the necessary flow of oxygen and glucose. . . . Brain swelling after a concussion has the potential to amplify the severity of the injury.”
In other words, while you might have a concussion, it is also possible that you have suffered another form of brain injury (or that your condition could worsen after your initial diagnosis). If this is the case, you may need a specific type of medical treatment in order to make a full recovery. The lasting effects of your injury could also be more severe, and this could heighten the importance of seeking experienced legal representation.
What Should You Do if You Have Been Diagnosed with a Concussion Following a Car Accident?
Due to the medical risks and the financial and non-financial costs associated with concussions and other forms of TBI, if you have been diagnosed with a concussion following a car accident in South Carolina, you should:
1. Follow Your Doctor’s Advice.
Studies have shown that resting can speed up recovery time for a concussion by as much as two months. So, if your doctor tells you to rest, you should rest. You should follow your doctor’s other medical advice as well; and, if you have any concerns about the quality of your medical care, you should not hesitate to seek a second opinion.
2. Watch for Warning Signs of More-Serious Injuries.
Since not all damage to the brain will necessarily be visible on a CT scan, and since it is possible for the effects of a traumatic brain injury to worsen over time, it is important to remain vigilant about monitoring your symptoms. According to the AANS, the following are all potential warning signs of a serious brain injury other than a concussion:
- Constant or recurring headaches
- Loss of motor control
- Difficulty balancing
- Hypersensitivity to light or sound
- Sensory impairments
- Reduced attention span or difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of overstimulation, disorientation, or confusion
- Difficulty expressing your thoughts or finding the “right” word
3. Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney.
In order to protect your legal rights, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. In addition to calculating your financial and non-financial losses and dealing with the insurance companies on your behalf, your attorney will also be able to work with your doctor to generate the documentation necessary to prove your claim. Since most personal injury lawyers handle cases on contingency, it should not cost you anything out of pocket to obtain legal representation.
Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Rock Hill, SC
Have you been diagnosed with a concussion following a car accident in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To speak with an attorney at our Rock Hill, SC law offices in confidence, please call 803-327-11