The Three Grades of Concussions

Woman in pain

Concussions are serious injuries to the brain, and in years past were, unfortunately, dismissed as “getting your bell rung” and victims were encouraged to deal with the symptoms until they subsided. With modern brain-imaging technology and long-term studies on the effects of post-concussion syndrome, though, we now know better. Even a minor concussion has the possibility of long-term impacts to the victim if left untreated, so if you suspect you or a loved one are indicating any symptoms (listed below), contact a doctor immediately. 

If the concussion is the result of someone else’s reckless or negligent actions (or inactions), you may be entitled to compensation through a tort claim. If you are able to file an insurance claim, it is important to know the insurance company will likely attempt to settle your claim quickly, and for as little as possible, without opening the door to negotiation unless pressed aggressively. This is where a personal injury attorney comes into play, who can take the fight to the insurance companies on your behalf while you focus on recovery.

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Mild Concussions – Grade 1

A mild concussion is categorized as a Grade 1 concussion, and the victim will only experience symptoms for a few days at most. The most common symptoms for a Grade 1 concussion are headaches, trouble focusing your vision, minor dizziness, and some nausea. While these minor concussions may be easy to brush off, it is important you work with a doctor as soon as possible. One of the overlooked benefits of working with a doctor following an accident, even for minor injuries, is that you will have documentation proving your injuries that will play an important role in your insurance claim and ongoing negotiations. Without proof of an injury, an insurance company will push back aggressively on paying damages associated with the injury. 

Moderate Concussions – Grade 2

A grade two concussion is rated “moderate,” and is characterized by more serious symptoms that will last longer than a mild concussion. When someone suffers a Grade 2 concussion, they will likely lose consciousness momentarily during the initial trauma to their head. The symptoms of a Grade 2 concussion will have some overlap with a Grade 1 — headaches, vision problems, trouble focusing, dizziness, and nausea — but these symptoms will be more severe, and there are additional symptoms to look for. Victims of Grade 2 concussions may report mild amnesia (loss of memories), a persistent ringing in their ears, and changes to their mood such as irritability or shortness of temper. 

Severe Concussions – Grade 3

A Grade 3 concussion is the most serious type of concussion, and the symptoms associated with it can be extremely severe. A victim may lose consciousness for five minutes or more following the trauma, and the symptoms of the concussion can last weeks, or months, before they begin to subside. In addition to the initial symptoms, such as slurred speech, serious memory loss, phosphenes (seeing stars), and serious changes to personality, there are additional risks of post-concussion syndrome. As with mild and moderate concussions, it is extremely important that a victim gets medical attention as soon as possible for this injury in order to develop a recovery plan.

Calculating Damages For a Concussion

Your injuries will be one portion of the range of damages your attorney will calculate for a fair settlement, but even this one injury can have widespread impacts that each result in a specific type of damage. Insurance companies will often try to pay limited damages and are likely to overlook the additional impacts of a concussion beyond the medical costs of treatment, and possibly your lost wages as you recover from this injury. While these are important damages and must be paid for, there are many more. The following are just a few of the different types of damages a concussion can create.

Economic Damages Of a Concussion

The economic damages of any injury are often the easiest to calculate because these damages seek compensation for impacts with measurable dollar values. Essentially, an economic damage is anything that comes with a receipt, invoice, bill, or income statement. The most common economic damages include your medical bills and all associated costs like prescriptions, copayments, surgeries, treatments, etc., as well as impacts on your income. Earnings-based damages include your lost wages for time missed at work, but extend to things like any paid time off you needed to use in order to cover days off, as well as long-term impacts to your earning such as a reduced ability to perform your work.

These are just a few of the many economic damages your attorney will explore. Others include services you may have needed to pay for that you normally would have performed yourself, such as grocery shopping or driving. As you work with your personal injury lawyer, they will take a close look at your life in order to be sure they include all relevant economic damages.

Economic damages are calculated as 1:1, meaning that if you have $100,000 of economic damages, you will seek exactly that number. Your insurance company will have first access to these awards in order to pay back the services they covered, after which you will pay out a contingency fee to your attorney and then retain the rest of the damages to cover your own personal losses.

Non-Economic Damages Of a Concussion

Non-economic damages are those damages that do not have dollar values associated with them, meaning they are difficult to quantify and calculate. However, this does not mean you are not entitled to them, because they are just as important as the economic damages you have suffered. Insurance companies know that requesting non-economic damages can be intimidating for a victim who is unfamiliar with the personal injury process, and they typically will avoid offering these damages without pressure.

Concussions have widespread non-economic impacts, such as the pain and suffering of the injury itself, as well as the ongoing neurological symptoms that a victim may suffer such as amnesia, difficulty concentrating, and the changes in personality that can lead to strained relationships, anxiety, and depression. If you have suffered a concussion, you know these are just a few of the many “intangibles” that come with this type of traumatic brain injury

An attorney has a number of tools available to translate these non-economic damages into real dollar values, and you can be confident that they will use the best method to get you the most money possible for these very real, very difficult damages you have endured. One of the most common methods is known as the “multiplier” method, where your attorney will gather all of your non-economic damages and use a scale to indicate their severity. This number is then multiplied against your economic damages to reach a dollar value. For instance, if you have $100,000 in economic damages and a 3x multiplier, your attorney will seek $300,000 in non-economic damages.