According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 176 people in the United States die daily from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A concussion is a type of TBI caused by a jolt, bump, or blow to the head. It can also occur when a force on the body causes the brain to move back and forth rapidly within the skull.
Concussions are serious injuries. Even a mild TBI can lead to debilitating symptoms. Seeking immediate medical care is crucial to recovery and preventing future complications. If you sustained a concussion in a car crash, you must take action against the negligent driver to hold them liable and secure compensation.
Common Symptoms of a Concussion
A concussion is a mild TBI. It bruises and stretches blood vessels and nerves in the brain, causing chemical changes that temporarily affect normal brain function. Typically, one concussion doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. However, multiple concussions can cause irreversible structural changes.
Although a concussion isn’t life-threatening, it can affect someone for days, weeks, or longer. The most common symptoms of concussions include:
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as an inability to sleep or sleeping less or more than usual
- Sadness or depression
- Vomiting or nausea
- Ringing in the ears
- Trouble paying attention, memory loss, and forgetfulness
- Feeling drowsy or tired
- Nervousness, anxiousness, and irritability
- Noise and light sensitivity
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, and balance problems
- Difficulty concentrating or understanding
- Blurry or double vision
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Feeling in a fog
Sometimes, symptoms aren’t immediately apparent. You might not notice any issues until days or weeks later. That’s why going to the hospital after a car accident is crucial. Although you feel fine, an underlying problem can lead to complications without prompt and adequate medical attention.
How Car Accidents Cause Concussions
You don’t have to bump your head on the steering wheel or window to get a concussion. A sudden and forceful movement that whips the head forward and backward or side to side can damage the brain.
For example, most seatbelts automatically lock in place at the sign of a collision. Although the seatbelt restrains you and prevents you from being flung from your vehicle, the brain shakes inside the skull from the sudden change in momentum. That can lead to a concussion.
Other safety devices in cars are supposed to protect drivers and passengers from severe injuries or death. However, they can malfunction, preventing them from working as expected. They might also cause injuries due to their design.
Common causes of concussions in car accidents include:
- Ejection – If you don’t wear a seatbelt, the force of the impact of a crash can launch you from the car. Your brain suffers damage as your head strikes the windshield or pavement.
- Crushed metal frame – Vehicles have a sturdy metal frame surrounding the occupants to protect them from external factors, such as flying debris. However, the same structure meant to protect drivers and passengers can injure them. As the metal bends, twists, and crushes around someone, it can impact the head, causing a concussion.
- Airbag deployment – Airbags deploy when they detect an accident. They cushion a person’s body to prevent contact with the hard steering wheel or side window. Deployment can lead to concussions as airbags explode from the steering wheel or dashboard and expand rapidly.
- Steering wheel injuries – The driver might hit their head on the steering wheel if their airbag isn’t active or malfunctions. Concussions can occur under these circumstances, even if the crash is at a low speed.
Compensation for a Concussion in a Car Accident
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is mandatory for auto insurance issued in New York. New York resident drivers must purchase and maintain at least $50,000 in coverage.
PIP pays for the policyholder’s economic losses up to the policy limit, such as:
- Reimbursement of necessary and reasonable expenses, like household assistance up to $25 daily for a maximum of one year from the accident date
- Necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation bills
- 80% of lost wages with monthly payments not to exceed $2,000 for up to three years after the crash
State law requires anyone injured in a car accident to file a claim with their PIP insurer before pursuing a third-party claim. You can’t seek compensation from the at-fault driver unless you exhaust your PIP limit and meet the serious injury threshold. That means your concussion results in:
- Loss of a fetus;
- A fracture;
- Non-permanent medically determined injury or impairment that prevents you from performing all material acts substantially that constitute your customary and usual daily activities for at least 90 days of the 180 days following the impairment or injury;
- Permanent loss of use of a body function, organ, system, or member;
- Significant disfigurement;
- A significant limitation of the use of a body system or function;
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body member or organ; or
When you file a liability insurance claim or lawsuit, the compensation you receive might cover your:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent loss of limb or scarring
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
You might also recover punitive damages in a lawsuit. You must show clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct showed a high degree of moral culpability or was wanton, reckless, willful, or malicious to be granted this award.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
In New York, the statute of limitations for a car crash allows a three-year timeframe to file a lawsuit against another party. To pursue compensation, you must initiate your lawsuit against the at-fault driver within three years of the crash date. Once the timeframe passes, you could lose your right to hold them liable for your concussion in court.
Injured in a Car Accident? Contact a New York Concussion Lawyer Today
Finz & Finz, P.C. has a team of nationally recognized advocates for the injured. We fight for clients harmed by others’ wrongdoing. For over 35 years, we have aggressively represented accident victims during their time of need. You can count on us to protect your rights and try to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
If you sustained a concussion in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, call us at (855) TOP-FIRM for your free case review now.