Whether you’ve seen in your doctor’s notes “post-concussion syndrome,” “traumatic brain injury,” or you’ve just felt “not right,” since your car accident, you may be concerned about what’s going on. You may also be wondering if you can hold the at-fault driver liable for your recovery.
In Virginia car accident cases (and automobile accident cases everywhere), head injuries are common. If you do a quick Google search about the anatomy of your brain and force applied, you’ll quickly learn that your brain is both an amazing and amazingly sensitive thing. And the mechanics of a car accident make ripe conditions for you to suffer a head injury.
If you’re suffering from a head injury, you are probably concerned with a lot of things:
- How long will I take to recover?
- What if I don’t fully recover?
- What kind of treatment should I be looking for?
- How do I find a good doctor?
- How can I make sure to preserve my head injury claim in my personal injury case?
- What are insurance companies looking for to confirm my head injury?
When it comes to your physical recovery, we at BenGlassLaw (nor any attorney) can not advise you on what you need to do to get better. If you need to see a doctor, see a doctor and follow his or her advice. And if you don’t feel comfortable with that medical practitioner’s advice, get a second (or even third) opinion.
However, when it comes to pursuing head injury cases in Virginia Courts, there are certain things that the automobile insurance companies will be looking for to evaluate your claim. These include (but obviously are not limited to):
- The mechanics of your injury. They will look to see if your car accident involved a significant impact with visible property damage to the vehicles involved. They will also look to see if there’s evidence that you suffered a head injury from what happened. So for example, there are pictures of a smashed in cars, and you reported to the EMT’s that your head whipped back and forth and hit the windshield, that’s a much easier set of facts to establish head injury than say an accident where there was no visible property damage to the cars, and you reported feeling “fine” after the accident.
- Did you report the well-known symptoms of a head injury close-in-time to the accident? While of course every accident is different and so is every accident victim, insurance companies are looking to “check off boxes,” when they evaluate claims. One important thing they look at is your reported symptoms after the accident. The most common symptoms that they look for regarding head injuries are reported loss of consciousness, nausea, dizziness, fainting, confusion, and other types of disorientation. Whether you suffered from one or all of these symptoms, if you complained about them, it will get the insurance company’s notice. Also, of course, if you had visible signs of a head injury such as a bleeding/bruised/swollen head is something they look for as well.
- Your diagnoses. With every type of injury, insurance companies will look to see what your doctors have diagnosed you with. Neither you nor the defendant are medical experts, but your doctor (assuming he or she is willing to help you) can potentially testify in court to support your diagnoses. While the insurance company will probably hire their own doctor to contest your claim, your doctor’s documenting of and corroborating your injury will help a jury understand what you’re going through. And this translates into leverage in pursuing your head injury claim. (Commonly with head injuries, victims will be referred to Neurologists who will be the foundation to support diagnoses).
- Test Findings. Often, after you report a head injury to a medical provider, they order you to undergo an MRI scan or CT scan. The doctor that performs the test will then report their “objective” findings which may or may not demonstrate a visible injury to your brain. While head injuries don’t require “objective findings,” it will certainly help you establish the injury for a jury, and thus again be more threatening to an insurance company.
- Demonstrated cognitive issues. If you’re reading this, either you or your family member whom you’re researching for is demonstrating ongoing cognitive issues. Symptoms such as headaches, sleeping problems, increased difficulty problem solving, increased irritability, feeling foggy, or “just not right,” are often complaints that I hear. These are important issues that are common in head injuries. And having both the victim report them and friends and family being able to corroborate the symptoms will be important.
- Neuropsychological Reports.While having friends and family able to support cognitive issues, you may be referred to a neuropsychologist to put you through a battery of tests to provide “objective” testing of your cognitive issues. In their testing, the professional will examine you to make sure you’re giving full effort, then test you for verbal, visual, audial and other cognitive capacities and produce a thorough report providing whether to their expert opinion you are indeed suffering from cognitive issues.
Again, this list isn’t exhaustive, and to pursue your head injury claim, you need not have every single fact established here in your case. However, it provides you an idea of what is going on through the insurance companies mind in evaluating your Virginia Car Accident Claim.