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When Concussions Call for Legal Action

Concussions & Brain InjuriesConcussions are types of traumatic brain injuries that happen for many reasons, including accidents, contact sports, and intentional violence. Sadly, domestic violence victims often sustain concussions for different reasons, such as getting hit in the skull by foreign objects, being thrown against walls or other objects, and sustaining punches to the head.

A recent piece in the Washington Post reported “it is likely that millions of victims have experienced concussions or other head, neck and brain injuries from violence — including strangulation, chokeholds and suffocation. Not only that, but severe, repetitive head trauma is extremely common, with close to 50 percent of survivors having been hit in the head too many times to count.”  Domestic violence (DV) victims are often struck in the head multiple times throughout their relationships with abusive individuals, which can result in severe brain trauma that has lasting repercussions.

No matter what causes the concussion, seeking immediate medical help is strongly recommended. Today, we want to talk a bit about what the signs and symptoms of concussions are, because survivors may not be getting the immediate care and treatment they need, let alone the long-term care they may require.

What is a concussion, exactly?

A concussion occurs when the brain moves within the skull because of some type of external trauma. The brain typically moves quickly back and forth, though it can also bounce or become twisted. And while some concussions cause the individual to temporarily lose consciousness, most victims of this traumatic brain injury remain conscious.

How do you identify the signs of concussion?

Symptoms of a concussion vary in light of the severity of the head blow, but typically include:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion or brain “fogginess”
  • Dizziness
  • Event-related amnesia
  • Dazed appearance
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed responses to assorted questions
  • Sleep problems
  • Light sensitivities
  • Taste and smell disorders
  • Forgetfulness
  • Personality changes
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration and focus issues

Emergency medical care is required for any severe symptoms, including repeated nausea or vomiting, ear and nose fluid or blood drainage, worsening head pain, continual ringing in the ears, and arm and leg weakness. Other signs calling for immediate medical attention include eye or vision disturbances, paleness that lasts longer than an hour, speech changes, convulsions or seizures, and recurring dizziness. Any symptom that worsens over time requires going to the doctor. No individual who displays concussion symptoms should engage in vigorous physical activities, including contact sports. It is a good idea to refrain from such activities and rest until the physician says otherwise.

Concussion risk factors and treatment

There are numerous factors that increase the risk of a concussion, including:

  • Contact sport participation, such as playing football, hockey, rugby, or boxing
  • Working as a soldier who engages in combat
  • Motorcycle, bicycle, car, bus, train, and truck accidents
  • Domestic abuse or other physical abuse
  • Previous concussions
  • Falling from various heights

Treatment for a concussion includes cognitive and physical rest that allows the brain and body to heal. Cognitive rest involves refraining from reading, surfing the internet, texting, doing homework assignments or work projects, or playing video games. Since watching television and listening to music require brain power, these activities should be avoided as well.

Other treatments include drinking plenty of water, enjoying a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and refraining from drinking alcohol or smoking, all of which help the body heal. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NASIDs) for head pain is strongly discouraged, since they thin the blood and can cause brain bleeding. Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is considered the safer pain management option. Most symptoms go away after two to three weeks of rest.

What survivors should know about the complications arising from concussions

Concussions can result in numerous complications if individuals with head trauma do not take care of themselves, such as returning to work too quickly or engaging in rough sports play. Complications can include post-traumatic headaches that can last up to seven days and post-concussive syndrome that includes headaches, thinking issues, and dizziness lasting three weeks or longer. Should such symptoms continue for three months or more, they are labeled as persistent post-concussive symptoms.

Other concussion-related complications include post-traumatic vertigo and second impact syndrome. Post-traumatic vertigo symptoms include the sense of dizziness or spinning that lasts days, weeks, or even months after the brain trauma. Second impact syndrome involves experiencing a second concussion before the first concussion fully heals, which can result in fast brain swelling that often has fatal consequences.

Can I seek damages for a brain injury caused by an intimate partner or household member in Chicago?

If you were the victim of domestic violence and suffered a concussion or any type of injury, you can seek damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Economic damages, or those relating to monetary losses from the accident, can include medical care and lost wages. Non-economic damages concern the mental and emotional ramifications of the accident, and can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of life enjoyment, and emotional distress.

To prove negligence, our attorneys will use your medical records, a police report, and any photographic evidence available. We will speak with you, your loved ones, and other potential witnesses. We also handle the insurance companies, as they will almost certainly try to deny your claim.

If you need to consult a personal injury attorney following a concussion, contact Gainsberg Law P.C. Based in Chicago and serving all of Cook County, our traumatic brain injury lawyers provide the dedicated services you need following an accident. Call our office today or submit our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team.

If you or your loved one is a victim of domestic violence, there is help.
Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at
800-799-7233, or the City of Chicago Domestic Violence Help Line at 877.863.6338 (TTY: 877.863.6339).