Should I speak to a lawyer about my concussion/closed head injury claim?


If you try to settle a head injury case without first consulting a personal injury lawyer, it's very possible that the insurance company will:

  • rush your injury claim and try to make you settle before the full extent of your head injury is known.
  • ignore your calls, hoping you tire and go away.
  • make an offer to you that is well below the actual value of your case.
  • tell you that your symptoms aren't real or are unrelated to the accident.

We've worked thousands of injury cases that involve various types of closed head injuries, and we can tell you from experience that these cases can be very complicated, often have a premium value attached to them, and need to be handled with extreme caution.

What is a closed head injury?

A closed head injury occurs when damage has been done to the brain, yet the skull remains intact. The source of a closed head injury typically results from a type of blunt force trauma often associated with car or truck accidents. 

In addition to motor-vehicle crashes many people will suffer from a closed head injury due to a fall, sports injury, workplace accident, and/or physical assault.

Many people will commonly refer to a closed head injury as a concussion, however there are several other names and types of closed head injuries, some of which include:

  • epidural hematoma (buildup of blood between the blood and the skull)
  • subdural hematoma (collection of blood on the surface of the brain)
  • intracerebral hemorrhage (broken blood vessel in the brain)
  • increased intracranial pressure
  • cerebral contusion (bruise on the brain)

How can an auto accident lead to a closed head injury?

The speed of a moving vehicle and the use of seat belts is an important factor when calculating the risk of a head injury. The faster the vehicle is traveling at the time of impact, as well as the lack of a retraining device, the more likely your head will come into contact with a steering wheel, window, or other fixture inside the car.

Though closed head injuries are likely to come from a direct impact, it is very possible to suffer from this type of injury without having come into contact with a secondary object. Even the abrupt start or stop of a vehicle can cause the brain to hit the inside of your skull with great force, thus leaving you with a closed head injury.

What are the symptoms of a closed head injury?
Because a closed head injury is often referred to as a "silent epidemic," it is critical that a person pays close attention to both the subtle and obvious signs their body communicates to them.

Remember, only a physician can correctly and accurately diagnose a closed head injury; however, you may experience any of the following symptoms that indicate serious injury:

  • vomiting or nausea,
  • vertigo (dizziness)
  • headaches
  • sudden or gradual loss of consciousness
  • confusion
  • behavioral changes
  • memory loss
  • depression
  • pupils in the eyes are unequal in size
  • blurred vision

How does a doctor detect a closed head injury?
Modern science has provided doctors with a wide-ranging collection of diagnostic tools; however, the physical examination, symptoms, details of the incident, and past medical history will play a critical role in determining if you have incurred a closed head injury, as well as what type.

The most traditional type of test is the x-ray, though x-rays of the skull are not commonplace today.

The x-ray will simply be used to determine if a skull fracture exists. It's important to realize that if a fracture does exist, this does not necessarily mean that you have suffered an injury to the brain. However, if the x-rays reveal no fracture, it is still possible to have suffered an injury to the brain.

A CT scan is commonly used to determine if an acute head injury exists. A CT scan can be thought of as a more sophisticated version of the x-ray.

With a CT scan, doctors are able to get a two-dimensional view of the skull. This will enable the treating doctor to view the brain itself and all areas inside the skull. CT scans are very specific, and if any abnormalities are present, there is a strong likelihood that the scan will reveal their location and severity.

What treatment is available for a closed head injury?
No matter the type of closed head injury, it's essential to understand that treatment is a must.

Closed head injuries account for some of the most dangerous and threatening injuries a person can incur. Likewise, they account for some of the most difficult injuries to treat, as they are not readily visible to the naked eye and there is no easy way to monitor the progress or digress of this type of injury. However, it is imperative that you seek treatment immediately and follow-up often with your doctor often so as to avoid secondary complications that could lead to permanent damage, paralysis, or even death.

In short, there are no magic band-aids or quick fixes for closed head injuries, but they do require constant professional attention.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller