I've been feeling mentally “fuzzy” since the crash. The ER, however, did not diagnose me with a concussion or TBI. Do I need to worry about this?

This is a problem we confront all the time at The Poole Law Group. The answer is that at the start, you need to worry about this enough to make sure that there hasn’t been an oversight about your injuries. On the other hand, you don’t want to panic.

 

Just because a healthcare provider at the ER or urgent care didn’t diagnose you with a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) doesn’t mean you don’t have one. Keep in mind that both onsite emergency rescue personnel and ER docs and nurses are trained to look for obvious trauma after a crash and treat it (e.g., broken bones, gashes, heavy bleeding, severe back injuries, etc.). Studies show that concussions and TBIs are frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed in these settings. Some studies indicate the misdiagnosis rate exceeds 50%.  Oftentimes, too, concussion/TBI symptoms do not fully become apparent because of the body's adrenaline response to an accident. Once the adrenaline rush wears off, the symptoms become more apparent. 

 

What symptoms are indicative of a TBI? Forgetfulness, gaps in your memory as to how the crash occurred or what happened immediately afterward, dizziness, ringing in your ears, any problems or sudden changes to your vision, queasiness in your stomach, difficulty sleeping or wanting to sleep abnormally (e.g., too long or too little) are indicators that you may have a more serious problem. Also, get a family member or someone living with you to keep an eye on you as, frankly, you might not be in shape to properly assess yourself.

Keep a simple journal or mark on your calendar when you notice the symptoms. 

The CDC site has an excellent section on TBI’s. It can be found here.

If you find that you do have some of the symptoms and you think that they were not diagnosed properly, do tell your doctor or healthcare provider immediately. Also tell your lawyer promptly. Hopefully your symptoms will heal quickly. However, we’ve had a significant number of clients every year who didn’t have attention paid to early TBI symptoms and they later found that those symptoms were the most difficult to overcome in the long-term. It’s really important to get the proper diagnosis and care early on and also to make sure that your lawyer knows that you’ve got this problem so that it can be a component of the claim made with the defendant's insurance company. Don’t forget that by law, when your case is settled or tried, the result has to deal with not only your past injuries but the effect they will have on your future.  It's a one-time shot and there is no ”second chance” to get this right.