What you should know about average settlements for head injuries and concussions
If you have been in a car accident or some other type of accident, you may have suffered a head injury or concussion. What is a typical head injury car accident settlement, and what are some of the issues involved in these accident settlements?
This article provides an overview of concussion and head injury car settlements so that you know what to expect as your legal case moves forward.
Overview of Head Injuries and Concussions
A concussion is a type of head injury that may also be referred to as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is caused by a blow to the skull or violent shaking in an accident. The brain slams into the inside of the skull and can cause serious injuries and consequences. Concussion is one of the most common types of injuries in car accidents. Some of the health problems that can stem from concussions and head injuries include:
- Loss of consciousness: If the accident causes you to go unconscious, this is a serious head injury. In car accidents, it can be caused by the head hitting the windshield or steering wheel.
- Feeling of nausea: If you have an upset stomach or throw up after the accident, this is a sign that you may have a concussion. Other related symptoms include being dizzy or sensitive to light.
- Confusion or amnesia: You might not be aware of it right away, but you might not remember events or are confused about the day or the week or even the year.
- Seeing stars: Some concussion victims may see stars or have ringing in their ears.
- Changes in mood: If it seems that you are more easily angered than usual, or someone tells you this, it could be that you suffered a concussion. It also is common to be more irritable, listless and/or nervous.
- Change in sleeping: If you sleep more than usual or cannot sleep, this could be a sign of a head injury.
- Headaches: If you are experiencing headaches more than usual and they do not go away easily, this also could be a concussion sign.
On top of the injury and symptoms, you may have to deal with an insurance company claim and handle settlement negotiations. It can be very helpful in this type of accident to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you get the best possible settlement.
There are three types of concussion that can be caused by car accidents:
- Grade 1: You do not lose consciousness, but you may have short term amnesia of 30 minutes or less.
- Grade 2: You have a loss of consciousness, and amnesia may last from 30 minutes to a full day.
- Grade 3: You are unconscious for more than five minutes, or suffer amnesia for more than a day.
Post-Concussion Syndrome and Car Accident Settlements
Post-concussion syndrome is a recognized medical condition that occurs when you are experiencing concussion symptoms for weeks, months or even a year after the accident. It is estimated that 10% of accident victims with a concussion will get this disorder.
The symptoms are very similar to the initial concussion, but will more often include dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, sensitivity to light or noise, and changes in behavior or emotions. The symptoms of this condition may be worse for some than others. Some who suffer post-concussion syndrome may have headaches that do not go away with time.
One of the challenges of obtaining compensation for post-concussion syndrome is that symptoms are vague and not easily seen. It also is possible for different doctors to have varying opinions about whether you have the condition or not.
When at attempt is being made to settle a claim for post-concussion syndrome, it is likely the insurance company will object. Insurance companies always prefer accident injuries that are clearly visible, such as broken ribs or a broken arm. There is not a great deal of controversy about whether a broken bone is broken or not and what that injury is worth. But post-concussion syndrome is another matter.
If the case goes to trial, getting a fair settlement for this syndrome also can be challenging. The jury wants to be certain it understands the injury and the problems it causes you. Juries may also be difficult to predict on post-concussion syndrome compensation amounts when doctors disagree on the diagnosis. Juries always prefer when all doctors agree on a diagnosis.
Damages Available in a Concussion Car Accident Settlement
Arriving at a fair settlement for a head injury or concussion will involve plenty of negotiation by your personal injury attorney with an insurance adjuster.
Damages usually are referred to as ‘special damages’ such as your medical bills and lost earnings. The other type of damages is called ‘general damages,’ and refers to pain and suffering you have experienced from the accident.
One of the central challenges in a personal injury case is how to value your general damages. The reduction of your life quality can be hard to easily put into a dollar amount. General damages can vary a great deal from case to case. Some states may put limits on the amount you can receive in special damages. Or, there may be a cap that limits your special damages.
Negotiating the amount of special damages is normally the most challenging part of a car accident head injury settlement. In addition to pain and suffering, you also may be compensated under general damages for loss of consortium or companionship and emotional and psychological distress.
Depending upon the jurisdiction and the severity of the accident, you may be entitled to punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the person who caused your accident injuries, if their behavior was especially outrageous, malicious or negligent. Punitive damages are difficult to obtain most cases, especially in a settlement.
Remember that you can only make a claim for head injury damages when your medical professional states a clear opinion that the injury was due to the accident. It is important to be certain your doctor has a clear opinion that your concussion or head injury and related symptoms are due to the accident.
It will be helpful for your personal injury case with a concussion if you see a medical professional who is experienced in treating concussions. This might involve seeing a neurologist, neurophysiologist or neurosurgeon. If you went to the emergency room after your accident, the ER doctor may be able to assist in getting you to the appropriate head and brain injury specialist.
What Affects The Settlement Amount?
The damages amount will obviously affect your settlement. There are other factors that can affect your car accident concussion settlement:
- Who was liable for the accident? If you were at all responsible for the accident, this may affect how much compensation you may receive at settlement.
- Mitigation: The plaintiff must make attempts to minimize the damages, and if you did not do that, this could reduce the settlement.
- Circumstances of the plaintiff: There are factors about you that could affect the settlement, including your work, age, medical past, and other factors.
- Circumstances of the defendant: Factors about the defendant might include whether they were intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when the accident happened.
Average Settlement for Concussion Car Accident
All personal injury cases differ, but a recent survey conducted by Jury Verdict Research found that the average verdict amount for a headache injury from an accident was $33,423. The median verdict for headache cases was $11,000.
These verdict averages indicate that juries may be less likely to award significant damages for head injury cases. It is reasonable to assume that the same would be possible in settlements for head injuries and concussions with insurance companies.
It is possible, research also shows, that a verdict or settlement in a head injury case can be $1 million or more. But cases that settle for that much have the following factors in their favor, in many cases:
- A clear head injury that is confirmed by medical diagnosis soon after the accident. It is important to go to the ER immediately and to have a diagnosis made by a medical professional.
- Substantial property damage such as a totaled vehicle.
- Testimony of a physician who thinks that the accident is leading to headaches and other concussion symptoms. There also should be a stated opinion that the condition will not improve soon.
Below are some real-world settlements for head injury and concussion cases that show that the damage amounts in these complex cases vary widely:
- $103,000: This settlement in Nebraska was for a person who was rear ended in a three-car accident. She had head injuries and headaches that went on for months after the accident.
- $3.75 million: This woman in California was hit by a man who ran a red light. She had complex brain injuries including a concussion that led to dizziness, nausea and migraines. Also, she had trouble finding words and had short term memory issues.
- $1 million: A rear end crash in New York left the man with concussion symptoms including vertigo and headaches, which required him to take medication for months.
Getting a fair settlement or verdict in a head injury or concussion case is complex due to the relatively hidden nature of many of the symptoms. Talk to a personal injury attorney experienced in head injury cases to determine the best legal paths going forward.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What types of head injuries can be caused by a car accident?
Car accidents can cause many types of injuries from minor cuts and bruising to severe brain trauma. After being involved in a car accident, it’s crucial you go see a doctor especially if you hit your head during the collision. You might think you’re in the clear moments after the accident yet many brain injuries may not become apparent for a considerable length of time. Avoiding medical attention while sustaining a traumatic brain injury may result in devastating, permanent damage or even death.
Head injuries are categorized into 2 groups known as open head injuries or closed head injuries. Open head, meaning an object has split open the head or fractured the skull and closed head injury meaning the skull has not been fractured but injuries to the head are still present.
Common head injuries caused by a car accident include:
- Brain hemorrhaging (brain bleeding)
- Brain edema (brain swelling)
- Anoxic brain injury (increase of blow flow due to lack of oxygen to the brain)
- Coup-contrecoup (brain slamming side to side against the skull)
What kinds of damages can I receive for a car accident head injury?
If you sustain a head injury in a car accident due to the negligence of others, you are owed compensation from the party liable for the collision. If you are the victim you will then need to demonstrate financial misfortunes with the goal that you can legitimately reclaim the money you will need to restore your life. The money for these misfortunes is known as “damages”. Various types of damages include:
- Decreased quality of life
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Wages lost during recovery time
- Pain and suffering
- Deformity (scars and permanent disfigurement)
- Unfit to earn at such extent
- Permanent disability
What’s the average settlement for a concussion sustained in a car crash?
There is a wide range of variables that determine how much compensation you may be owed if you have sustained physical injury from a car accident due to a negligent driver. Depending on the severity of the concussion the amount the victim may receive will be different. Minor, moderate and severe concussions will all have different ranges in compensation. Because a concussion is viewed as less than a traumatic brain injury with no long-lasting permanent effects, the settlement amount you most likely will receive will be around $1,500-$4,000.
On average a minor concussion settlement is around $1,500- $4,000. A moderate concussion settlement amount is $4,000- $8,000. And a severe concussion settlement averages around $7,000- $25,000. There is no exact answer as to how much you will receive due to many different variables and other injuries included, but here are some real examples of concussion victim settlements:
- Minor concussion and other minor injuries sustained from a car accident by a Virginia man received $290,000 settlement.
- Severe concussion and other traumatic brain injuries causing temporary memory loss and complex seizures. The woman received a settlement of $800,000.
- Woman suffered concussion and pelvic fractures after being stuck by a bus and received a settlement of $2.74 million.
Is a Traumatic Brain Injury curable?
Recuperation from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) fluctuates based on the damage done to the brain however is achievable. Recovery can take up to months or even years after the initial injury. Depending on the severity of the TBI, some victims may not recovery at all. Mild traumatic brain injuries more often than not, require no treatment other than a lot of rest and if need be low dose pain relievers. Although the traumatic brain injury is mild, the victim will likely be observed closely for any worsening or new symptoms. It is important to seek out immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing any type of head trauma.
- Puncturing the skull to relieve pressure and allow fluid to drain.
- Removing pieces of the skull from the brain
- An Intracranial pressure (ICP) is a bolt that is placed in the skull to monitor pressure.
- Brain tissue may be removed to make room for living brain tissue.
- Rehabilitation treatment
Can you claim for a concussion sustained in a car accident?
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury typically caused by an extreme blow to the head or even an intense shake or jolt of the head. Concussions are very common especially in car accidents but do not generally cause permanent damage however, any injury to the head is not to be taken lightly. It is possible that a concussion victim may not develop symptoms until day or weeks after the accident. When filing a claim for your auto accident after sustaining a concussion, you have the opportunity to ask for compensation due to pain and suffering and if work was missed, any lost wages during the time it took to recover. It’s important to seek medical treatment after the accident to ensure you receive the most compensation possible. A doctor’s testimony along with medical records will provide proof of the injury and will benefit you when deciding a settlement amount. Symptoms of concussion include:
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Speech problems
Can post concussion syndrome be permanent?
Post-concussion syndrome is the aftermath of a concussion where symptoms such as nausea, headaches and dizziness linger for weeks, months or even years after the initial concussion. If symptoms have lasted and recovery has not been made within the first 3 years it’s possible they may be permanent. In any case, some examination demonstrates that specific variables that are more common in individuals such as high anxiety, depression and PTSD are more common to develop post-concussion syndrome than individuals who don’t have a history of high stressors and anxiety. Specialists still don’t concur on precisely why some people get post-concussion disorder.
I got a concussion from an auto accident – is that considered a serious injury for claim purposes?
A concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury. Any traumatic brain injury is serious enough to file a personal injury claim. If you are suffering from pain sustained from an accident and the injury has caused an interference with work losing income, you have a serious enough injury to pursue a claim. It’s possible for the victim of a concussion to sustain serious cognitive issues preventing the injured person from working or even from having the capacity to live on one’s own. Thus, if you or a loved one has sustained a concussion due to an auto accident, it is in the individual’s best interest to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss further legal options.
What’s the average compensation for post concussion syndrome?
Sometimes, the victim of a concussion will experience lingering symptoms similar to those of a concussion, but may also incorporate new difficulties, for example, exhaustion, insomnia and anxiety. Settlement values vary depending on how debilitating the injury leaves the victim. Other variables that go into determining how much compensation a victim may receive include pain and suffering endured as well as wages lost during recovery. Medical bills are tangible evidence when determining compensation, but other factors that are more difficult to factor in include future medical expenses as well the degree of your lost wages. Post-concussion can be difficult to diagnose so it’s important while consulting with your personal injury attorney to gather key evidence to help support your claim. Be sure to:
- Have all medical records from all doctors seen after the accident regarding the concussion/post-concussion.
- Testimony from your doctor stating the condition you have is indeed post-concussion syndrome.
- Testimony from your employer, family and friends who witness behavioral changes such as fatigue, irritability and memory loss.