Every day, thousands of cars commute across Arkansas highways and roadways. With so many commuters on the road, accidents can happen at any moment, anywhere. People who are involved in a car accident can suffer from different kinds of bodily injuries. One of the most serious injuries a person can sustain as a result of a car accident is a concussion. In this article, Fayetteville car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, discusses how car accidents can cause a concussion brain injury – even without a direct blow to the head.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion can be described as a mild or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” These type of injuries are responsible for many death and disability cases in the United States, including numerous car accident deaths in Fayetteville.
According to the CDC’s statistics, almost 200 people die from TBI-related injuries in the United States every day. The survivors of this type of injury face mild or severe effects that could require continuous medical attention and medication. Furthermore, survivors of concussions could suffer from serious effects that can last a lifetime.
“Concussion” is typically the term reserved for less severe injuries, compared to severe TBI cases. Sometimes called “mild TBI,” concussions typically come with mild to moderate side effects a victim can often recover from. However, even if a concussion is not particularly severe, it can cause lasting damage. Repeated concussions can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease characterized by degrading mental function after years of brain trauma. This injury is common among football players and other athletes who received repeated or severe concussions over the course of many years.
What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion After a Car Accident?
Symptoms associated with a concussion injury can appear immediately after an accident, shortly after, or a long time after. Some of the most common symptoms associated with a concussion are:
- Difficulty thinking
- Coordination difficulty
- Strong headaches
- Slow or slurred speech
It is important to remember that while many of these symptoms manifest themselves right after an accident, in some cases, it could take more time for the symptoms to show up. After you are in a car accident, you should look for immediate medical assistance to reduce the chance of possible complications.
Can You Get a Concussion if You Don’t Hit Your Head?
It is possible that a concussion can happen without a direct hit to the head. Whiplash, for example, is a type of neck injury commonly associated with car accidents and concussions.
These injuries occur when a person experiences a sudden sprain or strain in the neck area. The sudden back and forth movement of the neck that commonly happens in a car accident – particularly a rear-end collision – can cause this type of injury. If the head or neck is jostled, the movement can cause the brain to strike the interior of the skull wall, resulting in a concussion or other injuries to the brain tissue. This is especially likely to occur in high-speed accidents.
How is a Concussion Injury Treated?
The first and most important thing to consider after a car accident is to seek immediate medical help. Getting checked by a physician can help ensure you receive a correct diagnosis of all your injuries, including a concussion. Your physician will determine the best course of action and take the necessary measures to make sure you are treated promptly and correctly.
It is important that a concussion patient takes good care of their overall health and has the patience needed in order to heal properly. Some of the CDC’s recommendations to recover after a concussion include:
- Get a lot of rest during the day and night.
- Avoid physically demanding activities.
- Avoid activities that require a lot of concentration.
- Avoid sports requiring physical contact.
- Consult with your physician about your medications.
- Consult with your physician about being able to drive, ride a bike, or operate heavy machinery safely.
- Consult your family members and close friends about important decisions.
- Avoid the continuous use of a computer or video game during the recovery process.
- Consider talking to your employer about gradually returning to work and about changing your work schedules until you get better.
It can be difficult for a person to go through the concussion recovery process, especially when they are the sole provider for a family. Always remember that the very first step towards full recovery is getting checked by a physician who can determine the best course of action.
Suing for Concussion Injuries in Arkansas
If you want to seek compensation for your injuries, one of the best options may be to file a personal injury lawsuit. Especially if you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to seek compensation through insurance providers. However, taking your case to court may be the best way to get full compensation for your needs.
Arkansas is a fault-based car insurance state, meaning you often have the ability to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to cover your injuries instead of relying upon the insurance companies. If you were injured in another type of accident, such as a slip and fall or other premises liability case, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against the property owner.
When you file a lawsuit for compensation for physical injuries, you need to prove that the other party was “negligent.” Negligence occurs when someone fails to uphold a duty they owed you. In car crash cases, the duty may be to drive safely and follow the rules of the road, whereas a slip and fall case might involve a duty to keep their property safe for guests. When someone breaches the duty they owed you and that breach causes injuries, you may be able to sue them for the injuries.
When filing a lawsuit, you must also be able to prove the injuries that you suffered. When proving your concussion, it is helpful to have strong medical records as evidence. Testimony from your doctor and the MRIs or CAT scans taken during your treatment can help prove your concussion to the jury, who may not be able to see any outward signs of brain injury. Especially if you did not suffer an obvious blow to the head, these scans and medical records can be essential to proving your case.
Compensation for Concussion Injuries in Arkansas
When you suffer any injury, you typically face three major areas of damages. First, you could face medical expenses from your recovery and any ongoing medical care stemming from the accident. Second, you may be able to claim any wages you lost because you had to miss work to recover from your injury. Third, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical pain and mental suffering.
If you file for compensation through insurance, you may be limited in what damages you can receive. Most insurance companies will only pay for medical bills and lost wages after an accident. However, depending on how severe your injury is, the pain and suffering damages may be the most substantial part of your injury case.
To ensure that you capture the full damages you might be entitled to, it may be best to file your case in court. An attorney can help guide you through your claim and discuss whether an insurance payout or settlement can cover your case. Never accept a settlement without talking to your lawyer first. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand what your case should be worth and whether a settlement offer is too low.
Some states place limitations on the amount you can receive in damages. Currently, the Arkansas Constitution prevents any damage caps on personal injury lawsuits in the state. This means that juries can order the defendant to pay as much as they see fit for your damages. Especially for pain and suffering damages, which can be difficult to calculate, this could mean receiving substantial compensation. If you take your case through insurance rather than a lawsuit, you will likely lose the chance to collect any pain and suffering damages.
The last type of damages you may be entitled to is punitive damages. In especially severe cases of negligence, the court may punish the at-fault party by awarding the victim additional damages. These “punitive damages” are rare, but they are permitted any time the at-fault party does something seriously wrong or commits repeated safety violations that harm other people.
Concussion Injury Lawyer Serving Fayetteville, Arkansas
While concussion recovery time and overall improvement will depend on how mild or severe the injury is, you will likely lose valuable time with your family, time to do the things you love, and time off work. You will also need to undergo physical examinations and may need medication to treat your injury. However, an experienced Fayetteville brain injury attorney can help you fight for compensation.
If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion injury because of a car accident caused by another person’s negligence, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law for help. With over 20 years of experience handling car accident injury cases in Arkansas, Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak fights for concussion victims to get the compensation they deserve. For your confidential, free consultation, call our offices today at (479) 316-0438.