Is a Concussion a Traumatic Brain Injury?

An angledshot of an MRI of a patient's brain displayed on a digital screen.

What Exactly Is a Concussion?

A concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury or TBI. A blow to the head usually causes this injury, and it can affect the brain’s function for several weeks or months. 

What Causes a Concussion?

The most common cause is falling. Often, a person falls and strikes their head on a hard object like a floor or piece of furniture, leading to a concussion.

Other common causes include sporting injuries, car accidents, and being struck by falling objects.

While most concussions happen because of a direct impact to the head, it’s also possible to develop a concussion from violent shaking or jerking of the head. In adults, this is most frequently associated with the rapid deceleration that occurs in a car accident.

When a car collides with another vehicle or a solid object like a wall, the occupant’s head can be thrown forward and back violently. If you picture this situation, you may think of whiplash or neck strain, and that is one potential consequence, but so is a concussion.

For this reason, we recommend that you always seek medical care after a car accident, even if you feel fine initially. 

Remember that symptoms of a concussion may not always appear instantly after an accident. For some people, it can take up to 48 hours to begin experiencing concussion symptoms.

If you didn’t seek medical attention right away but begin having any of the following symptoms, see a doctor as soon as you can:

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vertigo or balance problems
  • Difficulties with your eyesight, such as blurry or double vision
  • Tinnitus
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Unusual drowsiness or other changes in sleep habits
  • Difficulty with concentration or comprehension
  • Mood changes like sadness, depression, anger, or anxiety
  • Memory loss or trouble paying attention

An untreated concussion can lead to severe complications or death in some situations, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and get medical attention right away.

How Long Do the Effects of a Concussion Last?

Most people begin to feel better within two or three weeks, sometimes sooner. Your doctor may advise you to follow a concussion protocol in which you avoid physical and mental exertion or any activities that bring on your symptoms.

You should follow these instructions carefully. If your pain or other issues have not improved after a few weeks, please see your doctor again to ensure nothing was missed in your initial exam.

Some patients may have symptoms lasting longer than a few weeks or Post-Concussion Syndrome. If these issues continue beyond three months, they are called persistent post-concussive symptoms.

Women and older adults are more likely to be diagnosed with persistent post-concussive symptoms, as are people who have had more than one head injury. There is no specific treatment for Post-Concussion Syndrome, but if you let your doctor know you’re still struggling, they will try to treat the symptoms, which often include headaches, dizziness, and difficulties with memory or concentration.

Do the Effects of a Concussion Vary From Person to Person?

Yes. Symptoms vary depending on where the head injury occurred, what functions are controlled by that part of the brain, and how severe the impact was.

A blow to the back of the head produces different effects than one in the front, for example.

Can You Get Compensation for Your Medical Bills and Other Expenses Associated With a Concussion?

If the negligence of another person or entity caused your concussion, we may be able to help you seek compensation for damages such as:

  • Medical bills. Simply diagnosing a concussion is expensive. Usually, your doctor will want to order imaging, like an MRI or CT scan, which may or may not be fully covered by your health insurance. However, it’s essential that you have these tests to rule out even more severe conditions, such as a brain bleed that requires immediate treatment. People who have post-concussive symptoms may also have additional bills for follow-up appointments or treatments aimed at addressing their symptoms.
  • Lost income. Your doctor may advise you to stay home from work until your symptoms subside, leaving you out of work for days or even several weeks. If you burn through your paid time off, you could soon be taking unpaid leave, in addition to losing those days you might have been saving for a vacation. We can seek compensation for both paid and unpaid time off. 
  • Permanent disability. In rare cases, persistent post-concussive symptoms may be so debilitating that they prevent you from working at all, leading to lost earning potential.
  • Pain and suffering. You also deserve compensation for any physical pain or emotional distress you suffered because of your concussion.

What If Your Concussion Was the Result of a Car Accident?

If you are a Utah resident or have been using your car in the state for more than 90 consecutive days, you’re required to carry Personal Injury Protection or PIP insurance of at least $3,000. This should cover the first $3,000 of your medical expenses regardless of who is at fault in the accident.

If you have more than $3,000 in medical bills for your injuries (including any other injuries from the accident besides your concussion), we will pursue a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. We can also sue for your other damages at that time.

If you were in a motorcycle accident or received a concussion from another type of accident – like a fall – the $3,000 threshold does not apply, and we can file a lawsuit regardless of the amount of medical expenses.

What If You Were At Fault in the Accident That Caused Your Concussion?

First, we recommend discussing your accident with a lawyer to make sure you’re correct. People often take responsibility for accidents that aren’t their fault.

Another issue is that remembering the details of your accident can be difficult after a concussion. Some people have no recollection of the incident, or their memories aren’t clear.

It’s also possible for both you and another party to share some of the responsibility for the accident.

Utah uses modified comparative negligence statutes with a 50 percent bar. What this means is you can collect damages as long as you are less than 50 percent at fault.

While it might be true that you made an error that contributed to your injury, you can still seek compensation from the other party. However, you will lose the percentage of responsibility you had from your final award.

For example, if you had $8,000 in damages and you were 20 percent at fault, you would receive $6,400.

Can You Sue if You Fell and Hit Your Head?

If you were on another party’s property and we can find evidence that the owner’s negligence caused you to fall, you may be able to sue. Here are some examples of negligence that could lead to a fall:

  • A slippery floor that wasn’t promptly addressed. If the floor was wet or slippery for only a few minutes before your accident, it’s unlikely the owner was negligent. But if the wet or slick condition persisted past the point when the owner should have known and fixed it, they may be liable. If the floor can’t be dried due to a continuous leak, a bucket and a wet floor sign can count as addressing the issue.
  • Other floor hazards. These could be temporary, like items or debris left on the ground, or long-term, such as a loose floor tile, a hole or bump in the floor, a snagged carpet, etc. Again, the owner has a responsibility to correct or provide a warning about hazardous conditions once they know or should know about them.
  • Poor lighting. Sometimes, people trip and fall due to poor lighting situations, especially in stairwells, basements, and other areas that may have less traffic.
  • Structural deficiencies. Usually, people fall because they slipped or tripped on something at ground level, but occasionally, we see cases where a railing or other structure collapses, causing a person to fall.
  • Ice or snow. Property owners are responsible for ensuring safe walkways and stairways. Although they are not necessarily required to remove all ice and snow and may not be able to if the precipitation is ongoing, they should remove excessive accumulations of ice and try to keep walkways as clear as possible. Caution signs around areas where melted ice may refreeze can also serve to warn people of the danger.
  • Healthcare facility or nursing home negligence. Many patients in hospitals or nursing homes are considered “fall risks” due to various conditions. The facility is responsible for identifying “fall risks” and taking appropriate precautions to keep them safe. These may vary depending on why the patient is a fall risk. Some patients might need a walker or other mobility aid, while others could require assistance from a hospital employee whenever they get out of bed. If you suffered a fall and hit your head while you were a patient in a healthcare facility, it’s possible the facility was negligent in keeping you safe.

How Can You Get Help From a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer?

Please contact Valley Law Accident and Injury lawyers for a free consultation about your case. We’ll review the details of your injury, answer your questions, and explain your options for pursuing compensation.

Valley Law was established by lead attorney Brigham Richards, who believes responsibility is a cornerstone of any successful law practice. He dedicates himself to helping injured people and their families recover the compensation they need to move on with their lives.

Mr. Richards is also fluent in English and Spanish. To work with his expert legal team at Valley Law, call 801-810-9999 today.

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