A term familiar to people who have had a fall or a collision, as well as those who participate in contact sports; concussion and its potential longer-term effects, have become a popular topic. And yet, despite this new focus, some people are still uncertain about concussion. This article looks at concussion and whether it is possible to claim compensation after being concussed.
What is a concussion?
A blow or jolt to the head can cause your brain to move rapidly back and forth within your skull. This movement can cause injury to the brain, known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which can cause disruption to normal brain function.
What are the symptoms of concussion?
Symptoms vary widely from one person to the next. Common symptoms of concussion are:
- Headaches; a persistent or worsening headache following a blow or jolt to your head is a common symptom of a concussion.
- Confusion and disorientation; feeling mentally foggy, having difficulty concentrating or feeling confused abouts events or surroundings.
- Memory problems; difficulty remembering recent events or having gaps in your memory.
- Dizziness and balance issues; feelingunsteady, lightheaded, or having problems with coordination or balance.
- Nausea or vomiting; feeling sick or actually being sick.
- Sensitivity to light and noise; experiencing heightened sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises.
- Fatigue; feeling unusually tired or lacking energy.
- Changes to your sleep pattern; having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping more or less than usual;
- Blurred vision; experiencing vision disturbances such as blurred or double vision.
- Irritability and mood changes; feeling easily agitated, more emotional or changes in mood or personality.
- Slurred speech; speaking unintentionally slower, slurring words your words or having difficulty finding the right words.
- Ringing in your ears; hearing a persistent ringing or other sound in your ears.
If you have suffered a blow or jolt to your head, and suffer any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention in case you have suffered a concussion. Symptoms of concussion can appear immediately, or can take a few hours, or even days, after the incident, to materialise. A loss of consciousness does not always occur.
How are concussions caused?
Concussion can be caused by any incident which causes a blow or sudden jolt to the head, the most common of which are:
How are concussions diagnosed?
A concussion is typically diagnosed by a doctor or other healthcare professional, by carrying out a comprehensive evaluation. This may include a review of your medical history, the circumstances of the incident which caused your injury and the symptoms you are experiencing.
A physical examination to assess your vital signs, neurological function, coordination, balance, and reflexes is likely to be carried out as well as an assessment of your memory, attention, concentration, and other mental processes.
Concussion is not always visible on routine imaging tests such as CT scans and MRI scans, but these may be performed in order to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms or to check for a more severe head injury.
Concussion vs post traumatic stress disorder
Some symptoms following a concussion can present in a similar way to psychiatric issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and therapy may be recommended to assist with diagnosis. Therapy will typically relieve symptoms of PTSD but is unlikely to relieve all the symptoms of concussion/TBI. This can help rule out a diagnosis of PTSD and strengthen a diagnosis of concussion.
Concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury. Whilst speaking with medical professionals, you may come across some terms that are unfamiliar to you and its important you tell your treating doctor if there are any terms you do not understand. Below we look at some of the commonly used terms that you may hear:
Post-concussion syndrome or PCS
This refers to a complex disorder that can occur following a concussion injury. Symptoms generally persist beyond the typical recovery period for concussion, possibly lasting many months, which can significantly impact an individual’s daily life.
Subtle brain injury
A subtle brain injury may also be referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury, or a mTBI. This type of brain injury is not easily diagnosed, and specialist scanning may take place in order to diagnose a subtle brain injury. Despite being labelled as mild, these types of brain injuries can have a significant ongoing effect on a person’s life, affecting their cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning.
This refers to damage or dysfunction of an individual’s vestibular system which is the sensory system responsible for maintaining balance, spatial orientation, and coordination of eye movements. The vestibular system is located within your inner ear and provides information to your brain about head position, movement, and equilibrium.
This refers to challenges or impairments in your mental processes relating to acquiring, processing, storing, and retrieving information. Cognitive difficulties can affect your ability to think, reason, learn, concentrate, remember, and solve problems.
Can I claim compensation for my concussion?
If you have suffered a concussion injury, and this was caused by someone else’s negligence or omission, then it may be possible to claim compensation. A specialist solicitor, such as those who are members of Major Trauma Group, will be able to assess the impact your injuries are having on your life, the circumstances of how your injuries were sustained and the ongoing impact these may have on your life. Each case is unique, and it is not possible to estimate how much compensation you may be entitled to without a full review of your individual circumstances. It is likely that medical evidence will be needed from a Neurologist, Neuropsychologist and/or a Neuropsychiatrist and in many cases from all three disciplines.
Compensation for injury is divided into two categories know as general damages and special damages.
General damages compensate for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that you have suffered as a result of your injuries. This also takes into account any inability to participate in hobbies, activities and relationships with family and friends.
Special damages compensate for losses and expenses incurred directly as a result of the injury. This can include medical expenses including rehabilitation and therapies, lost income if you have been unable to work due to your injuries, or your injuries mean that you may have a reduced earning capacity in the future, and for ongoing care that may be required as a direct result of your injuries.
How long do I have to pursue a claim for compensation?
There is a general time limit of 3 years in which to bring proceedings in a personal injury claim. However, there are some exceptions and variations to this so it’s important that you contact a specialist solicitor as early as possible if you wish to explore whether you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.
The common exceptions to this three-year time limit are:
- For minors, where the 3 year time limit for bringing a claim commences on their 18th birthday.
- If your injury was caused as the result of an unprovoked violent assault, claims are brought via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and there is a two-year time limit for these types of claims (including minors).
- Accidents abroad, or on planes and boats where different time limits may apply.
- If the injured person lacks mental capacity, there is no time limit in which to bring a claim. However, it’s important to note that if they regain mental capacity, the three-year time limit commences.
Funding a compensation claim for concussion injuries
Compensation claims for concussion are commonly funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as a no win no fee agreement. When you first contact a solicitor, they will explain all funding options to you so you can assess the best way forward.
How Major Trauma Group can assist.
Our member firms are highly experienced and work tirelessly to support clients with their concussion compensation claims. We are well-versed in this area of the law and work with our clients to obtain the rehabilitation, support, and financial compensation they need to get their lives back on track.
If you would like a free, no obligation chat with one of our specialist lawyer members, please contact us today via email, telephone, or live chat on our website.