There are few things as worrying to a parent than learning your child has suffered a head injury. Perhaps you were watching a little league sports game where you witnessed your child take a serious blow or bump to the head. Maybe they were a passenger in your car when it was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Or perhaps you received a call from your child’s school alerting you to an incident where they were injured in a fight or a fall from playground equipment.
Pediatric brain injuries are especially concerning because when brain damage occurs to a brain that has not yet fully developed, future growth and development can be impacted in unpredictable and unsettling ways.
Concussions were once largely dismissed as “mild” brain injuries that didn’t pose much risk of significant injuries to children (or adults). We now know that any brain injury can and should be taken seriously - especially if a person is at risk of suffering a secondary concussion that can be debilitating, disabling and even fatal.
Although your child may be partly responsible for their own injury, they may still be entitled to receive accident benefits and/or compensation if someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to their concussion, or the worsening of their concussion-related symptoms. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review the circumstances surrounding your child’s injury to determine whether it’s possible to access funds to aid in their recovery or assist them if they must manage a permanent disability.
What is a concussion?
If a person suffers trauma to their head from a blow, bump, fall or jolt, their brain can sustain swelling or bruising that causes a physiological injury. Concussions may force a brain to work harder to perform tasks that could previously be done with ease, and there can be a notable decrease in stamina for mental activities and other functions. If temporary loss of consciousness occurs, it is often an indicator of severe injury; however, a person can have a serious concussion even without this type of disruption.
To diagnose a concussion, a medical practitioner must first rule out a more severe form of traumatic brain injury and other neurological or medical conditions that may result in similar symptoms. Concussions cannot be seen on routine X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
The acute phase of a concussion usually lasts for up to 48 hours; however, symptoms may last for one to four weeks or even longer in some children. Children with concussions symptoms lasting longer than a month should be seen by a specialist in concussion management.
Symptoms of pediatric concussions.
- Common symptoms of pediatric concussions include physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or somatic (sleep) symptoms. These symptoms can appear immediately after the concussion is sustained, or up to 48 hours later.
- Physical - A child may experience headaches, fatigue, sensitivity to noise or light, dizziness or balance problems, nausea and/or vomiting, ringing in ears, seeing stars of flashing lights, and slurred speech.
- Cognitive - A child should be monitored for signs of mental fog which make focussing, concentrating, and remembering difficult. The child may be slower than normal when interacting with others.
- Emotional - Unexpected emotional outbursts, irritability, sadness or nervousness all frequently observed emotional symptoms of concussions.
- Somatic - A child may sleep considerably more or less than usual and may have greater difficulty falling asleep.
Although it is always wise to seek a medical examination if a child has suffered a serious blow to the head, if they exhibit one or more of the following symptoms they should be immediately seen by a physician:
- Double vision or unequal pupils.
- Severe or worsening headache.
- Weakness or numbness in arms and/or legs.
- Significant or worsening drowsiness.
- Clear fluids or blood coming out of the ears or nose.
- Projectile vomiting.
- Stiffness in the neck.
- Significant changes in personality.
Treating pediatric concussions.
Although a doctor may provide specific directions for post-concussion care for your child, generally it is advisable to:
- Limit strenuous physical or mental activities and strongly encourage rest for the first 24 to 48 hours. Then, gradually increase these activities based on tolerance.
- Limit access to screens (television, computers, phones).
- Encourage them to stay in a cool, dark, and quiet room.
- Only use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache or pain during the first 48 hours.
- Provide a light diet if nausea/vomiting are exhibited.
- Use ice or cooling packs to reduce inflammation of the head and/or neck.
It is also essential for a child to be fully recovered from a concussion (and cleared by a medical professional specializing in concussion management) before partaking in activities such as contact sports. Experts have developed a graduated six-stage approach to easing a child back in sports.
“Second impact syndrome,” which affects youth and adolescents up to the age of 21, can occur if a second blow to the head occurs before a concussion has healed. The swelling caused by even mild impacts on affected areas of the head can cause severe damage to the brain, paralysis or death. Even once a concussion appears to have resolved, most medical practitioners will advise on what red flags would necessitate further evaluation.
Who is liable?
A pediatric concussion can occur under many different circumstances. In some cases, the injury is an unfortunate accident not caused by another person’s negligence. However, in other cases a person or institution may be partially or fully liable for your child’s injury. Some examples of cases where another party may be liable include:
- Motor vehicle accidents - The at-fault driver in an accident can be sued for damages if your child sustained a head injury as a result of their negligent actions.
- Organized sports - If proper safety guidelines were not followed and a child sustains an injury, or if a child suffers a concussion and it is made worse by negligent actions of coaches or others (such as urging a return to the field before a player is fully healed), the child may be able to make a claim.
- School/Daycare injuries - Institutions that provide care for children must supervise and monitor them to prevent them from getting involved in dangerous situations and/or acting quickly if they sustain an injury. Following proper concussion mitigation guidelines is important to prevent a serious injury from being overlooked.
- Amusement parks/thrill rides - Following proper safety protocols are essential when facilitating higher risk activities such as roller coasters and other thrill rides. If a child is injured on one of these rides as a result of negligent maintenance or failing to follow safe ride guidelines, they may be able to claim damages.
- Municipal parks and government attractions - Governments are responsible for maintaining an enormous amount of public infrastructure and may not be aware of new hazards that can cause injuries. However, if they have been grossly negligent in terms of upkeep of spaces, they may be liable for damages if a child uses these facilities.
- Medical malpractice - Diagnosing concussions, providing proper treatment/care, and sufficiently monitoring patients during recovery are important responsibilities for medical practitioners. If a doctor has breached the standards of care and as a result a child suffers serious harm from an untreated injury, they may be held liable.
We can help.
A pediatric concussion can lead to life-long disability or even death if not treated appropriately. It is tragic that a child with so much of their life still ahead of them could face such a difficult and uncertain future due to the negligence of another person.
Fortunately, you and your loved ones are not alone. The knowledgeable, skilled and experienced pediatric concussion lawyers at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers are ready to help in any way we can.
When you contact a member of our team for a no cost, no obligation initial assessment, we will listen to your story with an empathetic and attentive ear. After we explain your rights and various options, if we believe our lawyers can make a successful claim for compensation and damages for your child, we will offer to become your legal representative and advocate.
When you entrust your case to Gluckstein, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that one of Canada’s top ranked personal injury firms is working tirelessly on your behalf. Our lawyers are renowned for their ability to handle even the most complex and challenging of cases - so much so that other lawyers often refer these cases to us.
At Gluckstein we treat our clients as we would treat our own families. That means our interest in you goes far beyond our role in court proceedings. We care about your well-being and how we can help you as you rebuild your life following a tragic accident. Our client liaisons - some of whom have had their own personal injury cases - are available to help you understand the process, answer your questions, connect you with resources to assist in your healing, and simply to be there for you when you need someone to talk to about what you’re feeling.
We believe that a person’s financial situation should never prevent them from obtaining justice. That’s why we will never accept payment for our services unless we successfully negotiate a settlement for you or win an award at court.
Take the first step on your road to recovery by trusting the team at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers. One call can open the door to a world of possibilities for you and your loved ones. Contact us today and together, we can work to get you the compensation you need and deserve to face the future with confidence.
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