The most common injuries reported in Colorado Springs car accidents are head injuries, including concussions and Whiplash. Concussions can range from mild to severe, and symptoms may disappear quickly or last for years. The most misunderstood injury commonly caused by auto accidents is whiplash, people sometimes assume that whiplash sufferers are malingering or even faking their injuries. Recognizing the symptoms of a concussion or whiplash can prevent additional damage or even save a life in the case of a concussion.
WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?
Sometimes called a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI), a concussion occurs after a hard blow to the head, or when the head is shaken and the brain actually collides with the inside of the skull. After any head injury, it is important to look for the symptoms that can signify a concussion. Anyone exhibiting any of these signs after being hit on the head should seek medical attention right away. While the symptoms of a mild concussion may resolve within a few days, hematomas (blood clots) or swelling in the brain may develop after a head injury. These conditions are serious and can be life-threatening. Here are some of the common symptoms of concussions:
Cognitive difficulties: Inability to focus, confusion, memory problems.
Coordination: Slurred or slow speech, dizziness, inability to stand, or to walk in a straight line, stumbling.
Sensory problems: Blurred vision, loss of appetite, problems with smelling or tasting.
Changes in behavior: Mood swings, sleep disturbances, anxiety, fatigue.
Other symptoms: Headaches, nausea or vomiting, ringing in the ears, dilation of the pupils in one or both eye, sensitivity to light or noises.
This is not a comprehensive list of all possible concussion symptoms: Any changes in behavior, appearance, or one’s physical or mental condition after a blow to the head may be signs of a concussion.
Some of these symptoms may appear similar to the behavior of a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol and might be overlooked if the sufferer had been drinking prior to an accident. It is not safe to assume that the presence of any symptoms following a head injury is caused only by intoxication. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and seek medical attention.
The best way to prevent a concussion when riding or driving in a motor vehicle is to wear a seatbelt and adjust the headrest properly. Many head injuries occur when a driver or passenger is thrown forward into a car’s windshield, or even ejected from the car completely. A driver or passenger whose injuries are worsened because he was not wearing a seatbelt may even have an award or settlement reduced, under the doctrine of comparative negligence or Colorado’s seatbelt statute.
Even though there is no helmet law for bicyclists in Colorado, and motorcycle riders over age 18, a helmet is the best way to prevent head injuries for bicyclists and motorcyclists.
Concussions are very dangerous for young children, so proper child safety equipment in a car, and helmets for bike riding can save a child’s life.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Even a relatively minor accident can lead to concussion injuries. As the driver of a vehicle, if you experienced a head injury and lost consciousness, even for a short period of time, you should not drive. If you have lost consciousness, or have any of the symptoms described above, ask for an ambulance.
A concussion does not follow every head injury, but even a seemingly minor injury—including whiplash—could lead to a concussion. If you think you might have experienced any head injury in a Colorado Springs car accident, seek medical care, even if you are not exhibiting any symptoms. Symptoms of a concussion may not appear until hours or even days after an accident.
Do not try to give a statement to the police or to an investigator if you have had a head injury. Your judgment or memory might be impaired, and you may make a statement that will hurt you later on. Wait until you have seen a doctor and until you feel stable and comfortable. If your memory of the accident is unclear, it is better to say you don’t remember than to report inaccurate information.
Talk to a Colorado Springs personal injury lawyer before you talk to an insurance investigator.
POST CONCUSSION SYNDROME
About 10% of people who experience a concussion will develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). A diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome is made when some of the symptoms associated with a concussion continue long after the concussion is healed. PCS symptoms may last years, and, in rare cases, can be permanent. There is no way to predict who will develop PCS, but it is more common in older people and in women. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, mood swings, and depression, are more common in individuals who have a history of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and who are undergoing significant stress in their lives.
Repeated injuries to the head can eventually lead to severe neurological problems that are permanent and life-altering. Former boxer Mike Tyson is the most famous example of an individual suffering from severe PCS symptoms due to multiple head injuries.
COMPENSATION FOR CONCUSSION AND PCS IN COLORADO
If you have experienced a concussion after a Colorado Springs car accident, you may be compensated for your medical bills, loss of work, and for your pain and suffering, including the effects of the concussion on your daily activities. Even if you have a pre-existing condition, it may be possible to receive compensation by proving that the head trauma made the condition worse, or caused additional symptoms. For example, a PTSD sufferer may have made significant progress with treatment, only to have that progress interrupted after a head injury. Someone who has a history of depression might find their symptoms worsening. Evidence of the worsening of a pre-existing condition might be:
A PTSD sufferer experiences more triggers after the accident, causing his daily activities to be more limited.
A person recovering from depression starts missing more work after an accident due to more frequent or severe depressive episodes.
A person who has suffered from recurring headaches experiences more frequent headaches or the headaches begin disrupting his daily activities to a greater extent than before the accident.
Regular treatments have allowed an anxiety sufferer to resume most of the activities of daily life, but after the accident, her anxiety level is back to where it was before her treatment began.
Personal testimony, statements from family and friends, and reports from an individual’s doctors may help prove how an accident aggravated a pre-existing condition.
WHIPLASH INJURIES IN COLORADO AUTO ACCIDENTS
The most misunderstood injury commonly caused by auto accidents is whiplash. Because it cannot be seen, people sometimes assume that whiplash sufferers are malingering or even faking their injuries. Whiplash is, in fact, a very common injury that is most often caused by rear-end collisions. With more than 200,000 cases of whiplash reported every year, whiplash is one of the most common injuries seen in automobile accidents.
Learn the facts about whiplash:
While it is most commonly seen in Colorado Springs car accidents, whiplash may also be caused by roller coasters, football, falls, and other high impact activities.
The medical term for whiplash is a cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome. It’s also commonly referred to as a sprain or strain of the spine.
The most common whiplash injury occurs when a car is hit from behind, causing sudden acceleration. The person’s body continues to accelerate with the seat the body is attached to; the person’s head, not attached to the seat, does not move forward. Opposite movements of the head and body cause the person’s spine to curve unnaturally and at unsafe speeds. When the car comes to a stop, the head snaps back, hits the headrest, and snaps forward again.
The repeated violent movements of the head and neck can damage the vertebrae, soft tissues of the neck and spine, and discs in the neck and back.
CAN A LARGER CAR PROTECT ME FROM WHIPLASH?
Heavier cars, and those with reinforced frames can help protect riders from injury, but may not be as effective in preventing whiplash. The vehicle’s frame may absorb a lot of the impact in a collision, preventing the car from crumbling, but the forces that cause whiplash to happen as a result of acceleration and deceleration, and even the sturdiest vehicles cannot eliminate those forces. Thus, an accident with very little damage evident can still lead to whiplash.
DOES WHIPLASH OCCUR ONLY IN HIGH-SPEED CRASHES?
A crash at high speeds is more likely to affect the severity of a whiplash injury, but the forces that cause whiplash can occur even at relatively low speeds. Whiplash injuries have been confirmed in crashes with speeds of less than ten miles per hour.
HOW ARE WHIPLASH INJURIES DIAGNOSED?
Whiplash injuries are commonly divided into four categories, according to the type and severity of symptoms, and the physician’s clinical observations.
Grade 1 involves the patient reporting neck stiffness and pain; a physical examination does not reveal any visible injury.
Grade 2 includes physical pain, with a clinical observation of a reduced range of motion.
Grade 3 involved additional neurological symptoms, such as muscle weakness, decreased reflexes, numbness or tingling, and limited range of motion.
Grade 4 injuries include fractures, dislocations, or spinal cord damage.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A REAR END COLLISION IN COLORADO SPRINGS?
If you are in an accident in which you have been hit from behind, or in any circumstances where whiplash might be possible, you should be aware of the possibility of whiplash. It is tempting, in a seemingly minor collision where the damage to the vehicles is minimal, to simply continue on one’s way without calling the police or taking any action.
There is a risk involved in such a course of action. Once you leave the scene of the accident, evidence that might prove who was at fault may be lost. Even if you exchange information with the other driver, things may change after some time passes. A driver who willingly admits responsibility may change his mind later.
Potential witnesses will disappear and their statements will be lost. Even more important, you may have a whiplash injury and not be aware of it until the next day, or even later. With no record of the accident, it will be almost impossible for you to prove that an after-discovered injury was not caused somewhere else.
If you experience any pain at all after an accident, you should see a doctor. Even if you do not experience immediate pain or discomfort, a doctor can examine you for hidden injuries. A mild whiplash injury may not require any treatment beyond rest and mild pain relievers, but it may cause you to miss work, school, or other activities.
TREATMENT AND RECOVERY FROM WHIPLASH
Recovery times for whiplash injuries vary according to the severity of the injury, the age of the injured person, the presence of a pre-existing condition, and other factors. Most mild whiplash symptoms clear up within days. More severe cases may require more extensive diagnostic tools and treatments. Some whiplash cases may involve permanent nerve or spinal damage.
Headaches, fatigue, anxiety, memory disturbances, and muscle spasms have also been reported after whiplash injuries. Common treatments include immobilization of the neck, heat or cold applied to the area, muscle relaxers, and painkillers. Many whiplash sufferers find relief with chiropractic care, but make sure to consult your physician before seeking chiropractic treatment. In severe cases, more invasive treatments, including surgery, may be required.
COLORADO WHIPLASH AND CONCUSSION ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
In any accident case, you should not be in a hurry to accept a settlement from an insurance company.
Once you accept a settlement, you give up your right to collect any money in the future. Accepting a settlement too soon can be disastrous if you have not completely recovered from any injuries. Do not let any insurance company pressure you into accepting a hasty settlement if you have any doubts at all about whether you are fully recovered.
The Colorado Springs Car Accident Attorneys at Springs Law Group know how to handle a whiplash injury case. We do not charge you any legal fees unless we get a settlement or award for you. Our initial consultation is free. Call one of our accident specialists today at 719-421-7141.