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Concussions: Causes, Treatments, and Legal Remedies

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that causes immediate temporary alteration of mental functioning due to trauma. “Seeing stars” or “dings” are common symptoms of a concussion. The International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sports defines concussion as “a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces”. [1]

What is the Mechanism of Concussion

The exact mechanism of concussion is unknown. A concussion results from the movement of the brain inside the skull. That movement can cause a change in the chemicals in and around the brain or damage brain cells.

Rotational acceleration or jiggle of the brain is a more frequent cause of concussion than linear acceleration. Direct impact to the head is not required for a concussion to arise. A concussion can occur with a blow elsewhere on the body which causes a whiplash effect on the brain.

Diagnosis of Concussion

The diagnosis of concussion is made clinically. There is no biomarker based on imaging, blood tests or computerized neuropsychological tests that prove the diagnosis of concussion. Routine CT scans and MRIs are always normal after concussion.

Medical doctors and nurses are the appropriate health care professionals to diagnose a concussion in Canada. Quebec now allows physiotherapists to diagnose a concussion.

Concussions can cause physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms, which include the following:

Physical

Headache

Vision abnormalities

Dizziness/Vertigo

Sensitivity to light or noise

Balance problems

Fatigue

Emotional

Irritability

Depression

Anxiety

Liability

Disturbed Sleep

Cognitive

Unable to concentrate

Difficulty thinking

Slowed processing

Difficulty remembering

How are Concussions Treated

Every concussed person should be removed from active participation from play, work or school and be evaluated by a qualified practitioner. The medical examination should occur as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours after the injury. “Rest” includes rest from both physical and cognitive activities.

Most individuals will make a complete recovery from a concussion within weeks, or months of the injury. However, individuals who continue to suffer from concussion symptoms after three months, may be diagnosed with a Post-concussion Syndrome. Persisting concussion symptoms will require individualized and multidisciplinary treatment as the symptoms can be varied. The treating team should be experienced in concussion management. Pharmacological treatments can include anti-depressants for mood and anxiety, and medications for headaches, such as amitriptyline, gabapentin and candesartan. Non-pharmacological treatments can include massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and vestibular physiotherapy for balance difficulties.

Causes of Concussion and Legal Remedies (H2)

Concussions can be caused by:

If the concussion was caused by the wrongful act of another person or an entity, the injured person may be permitted under Ontario law to seek compensation for their injury. These damages can include health care expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and future losses.

The general damages (for pain and suffering) that may be awarded for a concussion can vary widely, as a result of the vastly different impact that the concussion has on the injured person’s life.

In assessing cases involving a concussion, the Courts consider different factors such as pre-existing symptoms, the onset of new and ongoing symptoms, and facts specific to the injured person that might aggravate or mitigate the impact of the injury on their life.

Three principles anchor the assessment of general damages: the experience of each individual, both in terms of physical and psychological suffering; the award must be fair, reasonable and consistent with other decisions involving similar injuries; and general damages should be used to provide an injured person with reasonable solace for the misfortune. [2]

In Higashi v Chiarot 2021 ONSC 8201, the Court awarded the Plaintiff the sum of $225,000.00 for her general damages. In this case, the Plaintiff was a successful small business owner prior to the motor vehicle accident. The Plaintiff was unable to continue to operate her business on account of ongoing post-concussive symptoms which impacted her creativity and artistic skills.

At the other end of the spectrum, the jury awarded general damages of a mere $2,000 to the Plaintiff in Baines v Hetier 2021 ONSC 6775. In this case, the Plaintiff recovered from her concussive symptoms within approximately three months.

It should be noted that there is a cap on the amount that can be awarded for general damages. In a series of cases in 1978, Andrews v Grand & Toy Ltd. [1978], 2 S.C.R. 29; Thornotn v School District No. 57 [1978] 2 S.C.R. 267; Arnold v Tono, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 287), the Supreme Court of Canada set a cap for general damages of $100,000.00. This cap is adjusted for inflation annually. In 2022, the maximum award for general damages is $434,758.00.

Retain a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if you continue to suffer from concussion symptoms and losses as a result of being injured by the actions of another. At Bogoroch & Associates LLP, we understand that a concussion can cause serious physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms and permanent consequences. We will marshal the evidence necessary to achieve the best possible legal result for you and your family.

Bogoroch & Associates LLP is experienced in all aspects of personal injury litigation. We have the confidence and skill to advance your accident to settlement or trial while helping you navigate complex medical, legal, and insurance issues.

Our experience, commitment to excellence, and reputation have long been recognized.  Our founding partner, Richard M. Bogoroch, has been recognized as a leading personal injury lawyer by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and by The Best Lawyers in Canada.  The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and The Best Lawyers in Canada are two highly regarded lawyer rating publications.

Contact a personal injury lawyer near me by calling 1-866-599-1700 or visit our Contact page for all inquiries.

References

[1] McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, et al. Consensus on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med 2013;47:250-8 [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[2] Nicholson v Shreve, 2014 ONSC 3158

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Concussions: Causes, Treatments, and Legal Remedies
Article Name
Concussions: Causes, Treatments, and Legal Remedies
Description
If you have sustained a concussion that was caused by the wrongful act of another person or an entity, you may be permitted under Ontario law to seek compensation for your injury.
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Bogoroch & Associates LLP
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