When a person is injured in an accident, there are not only physical and emotional consequences, but often significant financial losses. This is especially the case in serious accidents that involve injuries to critical parts of the body, such as the brain, that drastically interfere with a person’s ability to work and get back to their daily activities.
Brain injuries resulting in concussion and post-concussive syndrome can be highly troubling. Common symptoms of concussion include issues with short-term memory, confusion as to person and place, dizziness, issues with balance, extreme sensitivity to stimuli such as light and sound, irritability and extreme headache. Sometimes, symptoms are not apparent immediately, and their full effect may only be observed weeks or months after an accident. Some individuals will develop post-concussion syndrome, which is the persistence of symptoms for three or more months following the trauma to the head.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the victim’s symptoms may result in their inability to carry on full-time work. Income losses are often a driving factor in commencing a lawsuit, as there may be disagreement about the victim’s ability to work, and the amount of compensation at issue can often be very large.
Below is a discussion of a few common types of accidents that lead to concussion.
Motor Vehicle Accidents, Including Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Some of the most common types of accidents leading to concussion and to personal injury litigation are motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents. A concussion can arise from a driver hitting his or her head on the steering wheel or the interior of a vehicle, being ejected from a vehicle or off a bicycle, or striking a window, the vehicle’s bumper, and/or the ground.
In the motor vehicle context, whether in an accident involves two vehicles, a single vehicle, or a a vehicle and either a bicycle or a pedestrian, insurance will typically be available to assist the Defendant. It is mandatory by law to purchase automobile insurance; the insurer will provide defence counsel to an at-fault driver who is sued and will pay most awards of damages that are made to an injured party.
Damages are recoverable losses payable to an injured party; these include lost income from missing work, medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, housekeeping expenses, and any amounts available at law for pain and suffering (this is also called “non-pecuniary general damages”).
Often, an individual’s pre-existing health will be considered by the Court when assessing the impact of a concussion. In Abel v Hamelin, 2007 CanLII 17185 (ON SC), there was no question that the Defendant driver in a motor vehicle accident was at fault for the injured pedestrian Plaintiff’s injuries. However, competing expert medical evidence from several professionals was called at trial regarding the severity of the Plaintiff’s cognitive injuries, their impact on her abilities, and the extent to which the cognitive deficits were caused by the motor vehicle accident. Ultimately, the Court held that, although the Plaintiff had pre-existing cognitive deficits, the motor vehicle accident had significantly exacerbated her cognitive problems.
Slips, Falls, and Falling Objects
Slip and fall accidents, such as slipping on ice on a sidewalk, tripping over an uneven sidewalk, walkway, or doorway, or tripping over an object left in a store aisle can also result in concussive injuries that are compensable. Similarly, concussions can arise from poorly stored or loosely secured objects falling from overhead (for example, a customer in a large store may fall victim to a falling box, or a light fixture coming loose). Again, there is usually insurance to cover your claim for damages.
In recent years, there has been a heavy focus on the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and consequent concussion as a result of participating in contact sports, and extreme sports. Sports such as boxing, hockey and football are now notorious for the risk of concussive injuries to participants. Extreme sports including skiing and snowboarding can also result in concussions as a result of falls at high speeds, improperly executed jumps, and striking trees.
Although litigation may arise from concussive injuries in the sporting context, these are somewhat less common than lawsuits arising from motor vehicle accidents or slip and fall on personal or public property. This is, in part, because liability for the victim’s injuries can be difficult to assert against an individual who inflicts the injury, as they are often unlikely to have insurance which would respond to the claim. Unless the responsible individual has the means to pay, it can be very difficult to collect compensation that is awarded.
More often, lawsuits seeking compensation for sports accidents will ask the Court to hold the organizer or the sports venue accountable for a victim’s injuries. These claims are frequently complex because these Defendants will argue that the risks of sporting activities are assumed by the player in deciding to engage in the sport. In many cases, players and participants have signed a waiver of liability to cement their inability to commence legal action against the organization running the activity. An experienced lawyer can often develop a successful strategy to challenge these legal arguments.
In Leighton v Best, 2009 CanLII 25972 (ON SC), for example, the Court was asked to consider the conduct of players in a recreational hockey game. In that case, the Defendants argued that a certain amount of bodily contact and even “roughing up” was to be expected, while the Plaintiffs argued that behaviour that goes beyond the norm should be construed as assault at law. After hearing the evidence, the Court agreed with the Plaintiff that the Defendant player’s conduct was considered “unusual and beyond the scope of the ordinary standards applicable in Gentlemen’s Hockey”. The Defendant had physically removed the Plaintiff’s helmet and had beaten him in the head, resulting in a minor concussion. The plaintiff was awarded $35,000 in general damages.
Call Wallbridge, Wallbridge Personal Injury Lawyers in Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay, New Liskeard & Ottawa about your concussion claim.
If you have incurred an injury that was caused or contributed to by another party and you believe that you may have suffered a concussion or a head injury, contact our lawyers in Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay, New Liskeard or Ottawa. We are experienced personal injury litigators and will provide a free initial assessment of your case and the prospects of recovering compensation for your losses. Call us at 1-866-856-6197.