Concussions Not Limited to Football Field - Personal Injury Legal Blogs Posted by Jennifer L. Ashley - Lawyers.com

Concussions Not Limited to Football Field

Concussions have been all over the news lately. In particular, lawsuits against the NFL, along with the new Will Smith movie “Concussion” have started a national dialogue on contact sports and their impact on the brain. 

Interestingly enough, concussions aren’t limited to sports related trauma. In fact, 20% of all concussions are the result of car accidents. Every year, approximately 280,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with a motor vehicle induced concussion.   Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of a traumatic brain injury (14%). Further, automobile accidents are the number one cause of concussion related fatalities for youth aged 15-24 years. Concussions aren’t only the result of serious car crashes.  Even accidents at lower speeds can cause a serious head injury requiring medical attention.  

With increased concerns being paid to the long term effects concussions, football players now routinely receive medical attention following a blow to the head, and must be cleared before they can return to the game.  However victims who suffer head injuries in car accidents may not immediately seek or receive care.  Often the effects of a head trauma aren’t apparent right away, leading to a delay in treatment.  

Whether you’re an athlete injured on the field, or a victim of a car crash, it’s important to understand the facts about concussions.  

What is a concussion, how is it diagnosed, and how is it treated?

A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury that is usually caused by a blow to the head, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Concussions are often the result of a motor vehicle accident.  Although in the past concussions were mostly ignored, based upon what we know now, even a minor concussion can temporarily damage certain brain functions connected with memory, reflex control, speech, balance, and coordination.

Your brain is a soft organ that is surrounded by spinal fluid and protected by your hard skull. Normally, the fluid around your brain acts like a cushion that keeps your brain from banging into your skull. But if your head or your body is hit hard enough, your brain can crash into your skull and become injured.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

You don’t have to pass out or lose consciousness to have a concussion. Some people will have obvious symptoms of a concussion, such as passing out or forgetting what happened right before the injury, but others won’t.  Loss of consciousness is believed to occur in less than 10% of concussions.   Some people may also have cuts or bruises on the head or face from the trauma to the head, but most with have no visible signs of a brain injury.  Because of the lack of physical evidence, proving a claim in court has proven difficult.  

Concussion symptoms usually appear shortly after the trauma, sometimes lasting days, weeks, or even a year.  The most common symptoms of a concussion are:

  • confusion
  • loss of memory
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • ringing in the ears
  • nausea or vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • fatigue
  • loss of consciousness
  • irritability
  • problems with concentration
  • sensitivity to light and noise

Concussions are typically associated with normal neuroimaging studies, such as MRIs and CT scans.  Which means a normal MRI and CT scans As such, concussions are usually injuries no one sees, and make them harder to prove.

Conventional neuroimaging contributes little to concussion evaluation and management. A 2015 Canadian study found that neither CT scans nor MRIs of the brain are needed in the vast majority of concussions. That Canadian study found that neuroimaging was normal in 78% of cases of children and adolescents with sports-related concussion. 

The dangers of repeat concussions

It’s important to know that after a concussion the brain is more sensitive to damage. So while you are recovering, be sure to avoid activities that might injure you again.  In rare cases, concussions cause more serious problems. Repeated concussions or a severe concussion may lead to long-lasting problems with movement, learning, or speaking. Because of the small chance of serious problems, it is important to contact a doctor if you or someone you know has symptoms of a concussion.

Whether you’re an athlete who sustains a head injury in a football game, or a passenger who was injured in a car accident, the effects of a concussion should not be minimized.  Brain injuries can have life-long lasting, sometimes fatal consequences. Similar to past NFL players who have been injured and are suing the NFL, car accident victims can seek legal action to recover damages for concussions sustained on the road.  Consulting with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the short and long term effects of concussions following any type of accident is important to ensure the best result in your matter.  

Seeking compensation in Court

It is my goal to have more jurors, judges and auto insurance adjusters understand concussions and to take them seriously.  It is usually objectively difficult to prove a concussion occurred.   When accident victims states that he or she is having difficulty concentrating, has a headache, or feels dizzy,  that person is reporting symptoms that cannot be observed by another.  Someone with a concussion can appear fine and have normal x-rays and MRIs.  This makes it difficult to get the adequate compensation that the victim of a concussion deserves.  

If you have been injured in an accident, it is crucial that you pursue the compensation that you deserve for the pain and symptoms that you have endured due to a concussion.  Football players have finally gotten to be heard and have been successful in suing the NFL and getting appropriate settlements.  Accident victims should also be able to seek legal action to hold the driver who hit them responsible for causing them a concussion.



[1] Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report
to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to
prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention; 2003.

[2] Center
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention
& Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. Traumatic Brain
Injury & Concussion, TBI: Get the Facts, January 22, 2016.

[3] Cantu RC (1998).
"Second-impact syndrome". Clinics in Sports Medicine 17 (1): 37–44.
doi:10.1016/S0278-5919(05)70059-4. PMID 9475969.

[4] Ellis MJ, Leiter J,
Hall T, McDonald PJ, Sawyer S, Silver N, Bunge M, Essig M. Neuroimaging
findings in pediatric sports-related concussion.
J Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, June 2, 2015; DOI: 10.3171/2015.1. PEDS14510.

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Jennifer L. Ashley

Licensed since 1999

Member at firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

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Jennifer L. Ashley

Licensed since 1999

Member at firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

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