How does a driver know they have suffered a concussion? What are the warning signs and risks of foregoing treatment for the injury? The reality is that a significant number of motorists involved in automobile accidents don't immediately realize they have suffered a concussion. It is often brushed aside as "just a small bump on the head." However, that small bump on the head can have considerable consequences on the individual's health and recovery.
Common signs that an individual has suffered a concussion includes loss of consciousness, ringing in the ears, nausea, temporary confusion, or amnesia of events, disruption to sleep patterns, sudden changes to mood/behavior, persistent headaches, or the development or exacerbation of seizures. Accident survivors can experience a worsening of their injuries when physicians fail to diagnose a concussion, or when a patient refuses to seek care. Many people have CT Scans that are negative and the doctor tells them they are okay when they have had a shear force injury that damages axons in the brain which then result in cell death. These are called coup and contrecoup injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries accounted for 2.8 million visits to the ER and more than 282,000 hospital admissions in 2013. That year, motor vehicle accidents were responsible for 19% of fatalities caused by TBI. Across all age groups and demographics, motor vehicle accidents were responsible for causing 14% of all TBI's in the country. Teens are at particular risk and automobile accidents are the leading cause of head trauma among teenagers causing more injuries than sporting activities. In 2009-2010, nearly 30% of teenagers injured in automobile accidents experienced severe head trauma.
Commercial motor vehicle drivers who have suffered a concussion may be at greater risk for having subsequent accidents. These same studies showed that as many as 25% of drivers who suffer a TBI may only start to exhibit symptoms weeks after the injury has incurred. As such, it is a clear indication that minor bumps and bruises that are dismissed are often much more serious. For commercial motor vehicle drivers, concussions and TBI can be suffered in motor vehicle accidents, while servicing their vehicle, or while they are loading/unloading their trailer. In fact, slips and falls from loading docks and falls on slippery surfaces are leading causes of head injuries within the trucking sector.
In 2016, truck drivers and delivery drivers suffered the highest rates of occupational fatalities in the US. The majority of these fatalities were the result of motor vehicle accidents and a significant number involved concussions and severe TBI. Those who survive can face a long-road to recovery. Concussions can impair memory functions, diminish reaction time, negatively impact hand-eye coordination, and impair judgment. These health factors can make it unsafe for a driver to operate a tractor trailer following a concussion. While most drivers will fully recover following a concussion, the recovery period isn't instant and can take days, and even weeks for the brain to heal. The recovery period is heavily influenced by the driver's age and overall health status.
Prompt treatment is critical as concussions can have deadly consequences. In some cases, hematomas can develop that can lead to potentially fatal strokes, and repeated injuries can lead to permanent brain damage that can significantly impact the driver's health and ability to safely operate their vehicle. For these reasons, every truck driver is well advised to seek immediate treatment for what may at first seem to be nothing more than a minor blow to the head. These types of head injuries can be best seen on PET scans or SPECT scans which are more definitive than CT scans and MRI scans. The problem is that many doctors do not send the patient to these types of scans due to the health insurance companies rules that try to limit expensive testing.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents truck drivers in Wichita, Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal, Newton, Olathe, Overland Park, St. Joseph, Springfield, Satanta, Goodland, Colby, Hays, Salina, Great Bend, Hutchinson, Emporia, El Dorado, Guymon, Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Chicago, Kansas City, Liberal, Hays, Wichita, and cities throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma who have suffered concussions in accidents along I-70, I-35, US 50, and others. Our office helps drivers pursue compensation to help speed them along the road to recovery.
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