Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Issue of Concussions in Bicycle Accident Litigation

A while back I was sitting in a deposition of a neurosurgeon who treated my client for her injuries in a motor vehicle collision. The attorney representing the defendant driver in the case asked this doctor if he agreed that my client's concussion was a "minor" injury. The neurosurgeon responded that "a concussion is a form of a traumatic brain injury. There is no such thing as a "minor" traumatic brain injury."

Bicyclists, even those wearing a helmet, are very vulnerable and at a high risk for a concussion or other traumatic brain injury when they are involved in a bicycle accident or collision. An injury to the brain can even occur from the force of the head being jerked around; a direct impact is not necessary to suffer a brain injury. And the results of a concussion or other brain injury are severe. Common side effects of a concussion may include a variety of symptoms:

Physical Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, sleep disturbance, quickness to fatigue, lethargy or other sensory loss;

Cognitive Deficits: Attention and concentration lapses, perception issues, memory loss, speech/language difficulties; and

Behavioral Changes: Irritability, anger management issues, disinhibition or emotion lability.*

Since the time of that neurosurgeon's deposition there have been numerous news reports about retired NFL football players suffering from long-term consequences of concussions. Due to these stories the public has learned what my client's neurosurgeon testified to years ago: There is no such thing as a "minor" traumatic brain injury.

However, in spite of these serious symptoms most insurance companies continue to view concussions the same way they view unspecified muscle pain or other relatively minor, subjective complaints. As such, insurance companies often do not offer to provide adequate compensation for victims of concussions or other head injuries from a bicycle accident or collision.

It has always been the firm contention of the attorneys at Keating Law Offices that concussions are serious and therefore require a high level of care and attention. The attorneys at Keating Law Offices have experience in handling these types of claims and know how to prove to the insurance companies that concussions and other "closed head" injuries are serious. In some instances, it is necessary to retain an expert neurologist, neuro-psychologist or other expert to detail the effects of an injury sustained in a bicycle crash or collision.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free. Free case investigations may be available.

*Source: "Rethink Cross Exams in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases," Bruce H. Stern, American Association for Justice's Trial Magazine, April 2012.