Can You Sue for Compensation After Sustaining a Concussion in a Car Accident?
Filing a lawsuit may be a viable option in cases involving another party’s negligence.
If you sustain a concussion or brain injury (“TBI”) in a car or other accident, you may have several options to recover the compensation that you need to pay for your accident-related injuries, expenses, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability or loss of function you may have suffered. If necessary, filing a lawsuit is one of those options.
Recovering from a traumatic brain injury, which includes a concussion, can be challenging. Concussions may impact both your mental and physical health. That’s why our lawyers are here to help. Our DMV car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC have years of experience and thoroughly understand the medical aspects of concussion injuries and the laws in place to protect and compensate victims.
How common are car accident concussions?
Concussions are one of the most common types of car accident injuries. Every 70 seconds, someone sustains a concussion in a car crash, according to head injury data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A driver or occupant of a car does not have to hit their head on something, e.g., the steering wheel, etc., to cause a concussion, nor is a loss of consciousness (“LOC”) required. The force of one’s head/neck whipping back and forth, causing the brain to impact the skull, can cause a concussion. This is called a whiplash form of injury. Also, if you have had a concussion prior, you are more susceptible to another one in the future, assuming sufficient trauma.
X-rays and Imaging. A concussion, in most cases, does not appear on an X-ray or imaging study such as an MRI of the brain. A brain injury that does appear in such studies would likely be fairly severe and disabling.
Seventeen (17%) percent of the 1.7 million concussions sustained nationwide occur in motor vehicle accidents, according to the CDC. That’s 289,000 car accident concussions each year.
Warning signs and symptoms of concussion
Recognizing the warning signs of a concussion after a car accident is crucial for your health and well-being. Concussions can have varying symptoms, some very subtle and some very obvious, so it is essential to watch for any signs of a potential brain injury. If you or someone you know has been in a car accident, look out for these common warning signs of a concussion:
- Headache: One of the most frequent symptoms is a persistent or severe headache, which may worsen over time.
- Confusion: Difficulty concentrating, feeling disoriented, or experiencing mental fogginess can be indicative of a concussion.
- Dizziness or vertigo: A sudden feeling of unsteadiness, dizziness, or spinning sensations may occur.
- Nausea or vomiting: Feeling nauseated or vomiting without an apparent cause could be a sign of a concussion.
- Fatigue: Unusual tiredness, lethargy, or excessive sleepiness can follow a concussion.
- Memory problems: Trouble recalling recent events or forming new memories is a common cognitive issue after a concussion.
- Sensitivity to light or noise: Heightened sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises can occur.
- Changes in vision: Blurred or double vision, difficulty focusing, or other visual disturbances may manifest.
- Irritability or mood swings: Unexplained changes in mood, such as increased irritability or sadness, can be a symptom.
- Balance problems: Difficulty maintaining balance or coordination issues may arise.
- Loss of consciousness: Though not always present, a brief loss of consciousness can occur immediately following a car accident.
- Sleep disturbances: Changes in sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or excessive sleep, can be indicative of a concussion.
- Just “being off”: If you notice that you are just not functioning or processing information normally, that may also be an indicator that your brain has been injured.
It’s important to note that concussion symptoms may not always be apparent immediately after a car accident. Symptoms might develop or worsen over time, particularly over the next several days or weeks. If you or someone involved in a car accident experiences any of the warning signs or symptoms noted above, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare professional such as a neurologist can assess the severity of the concussion and recommend appropriate treatment, ensuring the best possible recovery. Additionally, documenting these symptoms can be vital for potential legal claims related to the accident.
Filing a lawsuit for a concussion injury?
You can file a lawsuit in which another party’s negligence or recklessness caused the accident that resulted in your concussion. Here are some key factors to consider and that must be satisfied:
- Liability and Negligence: To pursue a lawsuit, you must establish that another party was liable for the accident. This could include another driver, a manufacturer, if a vehicle defect contributed to the crash, or a government entity responsible for road maintenance, among others. The bottom line is that in any personal injury case, you need to prove that the other party’s negligence led to the accident and injury. For example, if another driver was texting while driving and caused the collision, their negligence could be the basis for a lawsuit, or if a property owner did not clear ice or snow, and you slipped and struck your head, you may be able to establish negligence.
- Damages: You must have suffered actual damages, most importantly a documented medical injury (see above).
- Components of Recovery: You can recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other disability, which may include emotional distress and/or a decrease in function of the brain’s ability to process, digest, or retain information, e.g., memory issues and comprehension (following directions) issues are an example. Documenting these injuries by trained medical experts is crucial to your case.
- Statute of limitations: There is a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which you must file a lawsuit after a car accident. The time frame varies by state, so it’s important to consult with an attorney promptly to ensure you don’t miss the deadline.
- Legal representation: Consulting with an experienced car accident attorney is essential. They can evaluate the details of your case, determine liability, and guide you through the legal process.
It’s important to remember that insurance claims are typically the first step in seeking compensation after a car accident. However, if an insurance settlement settlement that is fair or the insurer denies your claim, pursuing a lawsuit may be necessary to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Keep in mind that every case is unique, and the specific circumstances of your accident will play a significant role in determining whether you can file a lawsuit. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and make informed decisions about pursuing a lawsuit.
How much is my concussion claim worth?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to determining the value of any accident or injury, including a concussion claim, as every case is unique. However, it’s crucial to ensure that you receive fair compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial hardships you’ve endured. Your concussion claim should cover all your accident-related expenses, such as:
- Medical bills: This includes all past and future medical expenses related to your concussion, such as hospital stays, doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests, medications, rehabilitation, and therapy.
- Lost wages: Compensation for the income you’ve lost due to missed work, as well as potential future income if your concussion prevents you from returning to your previous employment.
- Pain and suffering: Damages for the physical and emotional distress you’ve experienced due to the accident and your concussion. This can be challenging to quantify but is an essential component of your claim.
- Permanent Disability: Your brain or some aspect of your mental function no longer operates at full speed, impacting other activities.
- Rehabilitation and future care: If your concussion results in long-term or permanent damage to your ability to function as normal, you should also be compensated for ongoing medical care, rehabilitation, and any necessary lifestyle adjustments.
How much time do I have to file a car accident lawsuit?
The deadline to file a car accident lawsuit varies from state to state. In the DMV area, these deadlines (known as the statute of limitations) include:
- Maryland drivers have three years to file a car accident lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one dies in a car crash.
- Virginia drivers have two years to take legal action from the date of the car crash.
- Washington, D.C. drivers have three years to file a lawsuit in response to a car accident.
But just because you have that much time doesn’t mean you should wait to take legal action. The sooner you respond, the stronger your legal case will likely be. That’s because the evidence you need to build a strong case needs to be found right away before it’s lost or destroyed.
How can a DMV car accident attorney help?
Many car accident injury claims in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia quickly become complicated legal cases. This is especially true if you sustained a concussion and file a lawsuit seeking damages. Be prepared for insurance companies to hire attorneys to fight your lawsuit in court.
A car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC can help you level the playing field. We know the laws that apply to car accidents throughout the DMV area. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success.
Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a DMV car accident lawyer focused on winning your case. We proudly represent injury victims in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.