PA Car Accident Lawyers Discuss Concussions and Accountability

Scartelli Olszewski P.C.

In recent history, concussions have been gaining more and more attention. With good reason. The CDC estimates that 3.8 million concussions occur every year at all level of sports. Now we are seeing a flood of lawsuits regarding long-term brain damage occurring with repeated concussions. Major litigation against the NFL and other major organizations has made people realize that there is a problem with how concussions are being treated, especially in sports. There has long been a link between concussions and brain damage, but it is only recently that action has been taken to try to remedy this problem. In response to the NFL lawsuit, former Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback Terry Bradshaw said, “They’re forced to care now because its politically correct to care. Lawsuits make you care”.Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries which occur when the brain collides with the inside of the skull. They are characterized by a temporary disruption of neurological functioning and awareness. Concussions most commonly occur with symptoms of “fogginess,” an inability to remember the injury itself or what happened directly before or after. A common misconception is that concussions occur when someone is “knocked out.” However, they can occur even without a loss of consciousness. Concussions do not have medical treatment in the traditional sense, meaning that there is no real medication for them. Usually they resolve themselves within one to six weeks without any medical treatment, but do require a patient’s cooperation and rest – both cognitive and physical. The problem is not that more people are getting concussions now; it is that concussions are not being handled and treated correctly. Medical research has long shown a link between multiple concussions and disease, but no one ever acknowledged the long-term effects until legal action was taken. Repeated head trauma can lead to Post-Concussion Syndrome, which can include physical, cognitive, and emotional problems including headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability for the rest of someone’s life. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is also a concern when it comes to concussions. This is a chronic degenerative disease that triggers progressive deterioration of the brain. These changes in the brain can begin months and even years after the last brain trauma and is most often found in athletes and those with a history of repeated brain trauma. While there may not be a way to prevent brain injuries from happening in the first place, there are definitely ways to prevent the terrible outcomes of not treating them properly. So what is being done? Since 2009 every state with the exception of Wyoming has enacted a law regarding concussions sustained in sports programs. It is commonly referred to as the “when in doubt, sit them out” rule. Many of these laws require concussion education for coaches, players and parents. Additionally, individuals who have been injured must be cleared by a health professional who is licensed or trained in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) management. Pennsylvania requires the education portion of the law, but not the need for clearance by a TBI-trained professional, or for parents to be notified of suspected or diagnosed brain trauma. While laws still vary from state to state, there is an increasing awareness about the problems and risks surrounding concussions. Although they often seem minor, a concussion can have short- and long-term effects that damage our brain’s capacity to function. A misdiagnosis of obvious symptoms and further trauma due to a misdiagnosis or lack of concern are potential grounds for malpractice and negligence lawsuits. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a misdiagnosis or neglectful care of a concussion, know your rights and legal options. Contact the legal team of Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., where you will find knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys in Scranton and Lackawanna County. We will fight for you and your family. We are small enough to care, but large enough to win.