In a recent column for the New Yorker, renowned neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin discusses his personal experiences after suffering a concussion following a rear-end collision car accident. His description of what happened after the accident mirrors the descriptions we regularly hear from clients involved in car accidents in Georgia. As he notes, concussions may not be diagnosed, either initially or at all, but their effects may linger for a long time and cause significant problems for car accident victims.
In “A Neuroscientist's Diary of a Concussion” (New Yorker, November 23, 2017), Levitin describes being rear-ended by another vehicle, possibly because the other driver was distracted by texting. He then explains that, like many car accident victims, he did not go to the emergency room. As he noted, the tests they were likely to perform at the ER, including CT and MRI scans, would not show the effects of a concussion. In fact, even the symptoms of a concussion can be masked for a few days, and in Levitin's case, didn't show up until about the third day. At that point, the symptoms he describes are similar to the stories we hear from clients: difficulty in finding common words and completing sentences, including remembering names; difficulty sleeping; finding it hard to concentrate; reduced stamina; being more emotional than normal; and debilitating headaches.
At the time of the article, six months had passed since his car accident, and he was still suffering from reduced stamina and a difficulty in finding words. Once again, this is a common complaint from our clients who have suffered concussions. Objective medical evidence of a concussion is often difficult to obtain, and doctors rely on a patient's report of symptoms to reach a diagnosis. Insurance companies are often reluctant to accept this sort of evidence and attempt to downplay any injuries, particularly if there are no other injuries involved.
In Levitin's case, he did have other injuries, including whiplash, that had resulted in an injury to his larynx that affected his ability to sing. Whiplash can also cause significant and long-lasting pain and difficulties. Like concussions, whiplash is often downplayed by insurers who are hoping to minimize any payment made to an injured car accident victim. Proper medical treatment, and following up, can help minimize the arguments that an insurer or defendant can raise in these cases and help increase the chance that a victim can recover full compensation.