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Concussions After a Car Accident: What You Need to Know

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As car accident lawyers, we know that a concussion injury after a car accident is widespread. In fact, concussion injury is a very common personal injury that are reported after a person is involved in a car accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 14.3 percent of all concussions/TBIs result from motor vehicle accidents, making them the third most common cause of these types of injuries. In this article we outline what you can do when you receive a concussion after a car accident.

Concussions/TBIs can leave victims with significant cognitive and physical problems and may prevent a person from working or even from being able to live independently. For this reason, people who sustain a concussion and TBIs in car accidents should contact a law firm immediately to determine their legal options.

How are Concussions and TBI Different?

Many people may be surprised to learn that a concussion is simply a form of mild TBI. In fact, concussions are the most common form of traumatic brain injury, and they are often sustained in events as common as playing sports, car accidents, and falls. However, TBIs can be significantly more severe than a concussion and can involve trauma that penetrates the skull and causes significant damage to a person's brain. 

The complications associated with a TBI are generally in direct proportion to the severity of the initial injury but can include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Problems communicating
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty understanding
  • Problems with communication
  • Speech problems
  • Issues with motor control

How Do Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur in Car Accidents?

Motor vehicle accidents often involve extreme physical forces that can cause significant bodily injury. There are several ways this could occur in a car accident, including the following:

  •  Violent shaking and sudden movement of the head and upper body
  •   Being ejected from the vehicle 
  •   Striking the charge against a window or other part of the car

What Type of Treatment is Available for Concussions and TBIs?

In any accident in which an individual sustains head trauma, a person should be sure to undergo a thorough medical evaluation. The first place to start is in the hospital emergency room. After a car accident, there is a great deal of confusion and adrenaline. 

Make sure you let the ER doctor know precisely how you felt so that they may order a CT scan and get a better look at the brain. Keep in mind, concussion or TBI symptoms do not manifest immediately after a car accident. Sometimes signs can be subtle and take days for a person to realize they have sustained a brain injury. In many instances, early intervention can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case.

In addition to ensuring that your injuries are adequately treated, seeing a neurologist will also generate medical records and documentation of your brain injury, treatment, and subsequent recovery.

How to Get Compensation for Your Concussion After a Car Accident

Many people have asked the question: how can an insurance company value pain and suffering after an accident and injury claim? The first step is presenting a claim to the person who caused your injuries insurance company. To do this, you or your personal injury attorney will bring a third-party claim against the negligent party and tangentially their insurance company. This gets the ball rolling. 

Perhaps most importantly, to get compensations, you'll need to establish that the negligent party is actually liable for your losses, as well as provide evidence associated with your injuries and damages. As long as you can prove liability on the part of the defendant (negligent party), the insurance company will evaluate your claim and determine if they will compensate you for damages. Such compensations could include property damage, medical bills, lost wages, future lost income, pain, suffering, future medical care, emotional damages, loss of consortium, and other damage claims. 

Providing evidence for tangible items lost in a personal injury case is usually simple. For example, it is not hard to show that your car has been damaged or you broke your iPhone, and there can be a readily agreed-upon value for those pieces of property. However, things get much more complicated when you're trying to recover damages for less visible damages like pain and suffering.

In evaluating a personal injury claim, the insurance company is always incentivized to diminish your pain. The reason is simple, the less they pay you, the better their bottom line. A third-party insurance company, even if it's the same company you may have for something like auto insurance, has no duty to you. Instead, they take an adversarial approach. 

They want to run your facts through their computer systems, such as colossus, to minimize the value of your claim. For these reasons, you should strongly consider retaining a personal injury lawyer to help you get maximum compensation for damages. An experienced personal injury attorney understands the insurance company's tricks and will fight on your side to bring you the most money for your injuries because your interests are 100% aligned.  

What is Pain & Suffering?

While you can point to a scar or wounds as evidence of physical injuries, pain and suffering encompass not just your physical injuries but emotional and psychological wounds you may sustain as a result of an accident. Examples of what could be legally seen as "pain and suffering" include fear, insomnia, depression, emotional distress, and, most importantly, the loss of enjoyment of life. 

Pain and suffering from a plaintiff's perspective is not simply the loss of doing something. It often means the cost you pay for the doing and the adjustments you must make add up to a significant toll over your lifetime. Think of it as when your child asks you to throw them in the air, pre-injury was no problem, but post-accident, you know that you will be in a lot of pain after you make them smile – do you do it or not? 

These types of considerations about your daily life activities were not there before the accident, but now you are left to deal with them for an indeterminate amount of time. The insurance companies do not want to consider these types of damages. It is the job of a skilled personal injury attorney to make them.

There is no fixed magical method to determine the intensity of your "pain and suffering." This could bring problems, as there might be a little debate about what you would get for nonphysical damage claims.

Even though there's no hard and fast rule for calculating the value of pain and suffering claims, two methods are commonly used when valuing pain and suffering. The first method usually involves multiplying the value of your actual damages like medical bills or lost wages with a number, generally, between 1 and 3 times depending on the severity of the injury – this is the preferred method of many insurance companies. Then, they often present low-ball offers in hopes of the plaintiff simply accepting an unjust result and moving on with their lives.

The second method is the per day or per year method, called per diem or annum in legalese. In this method, a personal injury attorney considers various factors and assigns a monetary value per day or year of your suffering until you achieve maximum recovery. For example, this method finds the average life expectancy multiplied by an amount to determine the number of your damages over your lifetime. 

For example, if you were to lose the ability to get promoted at your job due to your injuries which cost you $10,000.00 per year, multiplied by the average life span of the individual, it will give you the claim for future lost income. Therefore, this method can provide some enormous and more accurate damages for a jury to consider when determining the amount to compensate you for your pain and suffering damages over your lifetime.

How do Insurance Companies Calculate Pain & Suffering?

Insurance companies are under no obligation to value your pain and suffering fairly, and in fact, they are more than happy to undervalue your claim. They will often plug information into an insurance industry standard computer program which will then spit out an amount that it feels is appropriate – then they will offer a fraction of that amount to begin negotiations. A computer program helps value ascertainable items like a car bumper but lacks the human insight to appreciate the inability to play with your kids after an accident. It simply cannot factor in the human element and cost taken in every personal injury claim. 

Insurance companies are notorious for diminishing the value of pain and suffering. They do this in every single personal injury claim because the money-saving to the company over a long period can be worth millions and millions of dollars. They will look at the medical treatment, pointing to any missed appointments as 'gaps in treatment' regardless of missing the meetings. Insurance companies will also take into consideration the duration of treatment. If the plaintiff's unique case required a more extended treatment duration, it's usually an indicator of more severe injuries requiring more value in compensation. 

If you treat consistently over a long period, they will often assert that you are over-treated because you wanted to build up your claim. If your MRI comes back with a positive finding, they will say it is likely due to your age, even if your neck or back were never bothering you pre-accident. Treated with a chiropractor, they will diminish the value of your claim because they believe that to be 'soft tissue injuries only. The insurance company will try to get you coming or going; they will use the tried-and-true method of delay, deny, and defend to wear you down over time so that you settle for a fraction of what your personal injury claim is worth. The reason is simple – the less they pay you, the more money on their bottom line.

But since the insurance company has the leeway of using their methods, you can guess whether they will provide you with a fair value for your pain, suffering, and damages. The bottom line is that insurance companies like State Farm, Progressive, Geico, All State are incentivized to provide you with a low value for your injury claim.

How Do You Know What is Fair?

Proving you experienced pain and suffering due to an accident is hard enough, but knowing what's fair is something that cannot precisely be calibrated could even be much more complicated. Moreover, fairness in the insurance company's eyes, who created the program and the variable inputs, will look very different from fairness in the eyes of the injured party. 

Computer programs are robot-like. How can they value your injuries fairly if they cannot see the pain and suffering of not being the same person you were pre-accident? They simply cannot. The valuation methods detailed above can guide you on loving pain and suffering, but there is much art involved. A skilled personal injury lawyer can put together a detailed demand packet that can be used as a trial guide if the insurance company undervalues your claim.

Dealing with an insurance company after an accident that is pressuring you to settle your case prematurely is something that many claimants have to deal with. The experience can be almost as terrible as the accident itself. Retaining a personal injury lawyer is most times your very best option after being injured in an accident. 

A CNN study indicated that individual injury claimants with an attorney generally receive 40% more compensation for their personal injury claim than those without. They will act as a shield from the insurance company, taking over communication and dealing with the claims adjuster. They will also serve as a sword when presenting your claim, detailing your pain, suffering, and damages in every effort to get you maximum value settlement or verdict at trial.

Can You Make a Personal Injury Claim for Concussions and TBIs?

People that have sustained concussion injury after a car accident often sustain significant economic and non-economic losses. Fortunately for victims, Pennsylvania law usually allows people who have been hurt in these kinds of accidents to recover from their injuries by filing a personal injury claim. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of the Philadelphia auto accident attorneys of KaplunMarx, call our office today at (610) 660-7780 or send us an email through our online contact form.

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