Personal Injury

Vital to seek medical help, legal advice after head trauma

By Rob Lamberti, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor

Anyone who suffers a head injury should seek medical help as soon as possible, and call a lawyer if symptoms persist, says Brampton personal injury lawyer Nital Gosai.

The longer a person with a head injury waits to get help — both medically and legally — the more difficult proving a claim for damages becomes, says Gosai, founder of Gosai Law.

A recent UBC study of concussions suffered by non-contact sport victims — in particular surfers — applies to the types of cases she deals with, Gosai tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“As I was reading the UBC report, I recalled a study concerning NFL players, which was the first of its kind in studying the relationship between concussions and contact sports, and how those findings could be used in the work that personal injury lawyers do in cases of non-contact concussion,” she says.

“For me, understanding concussions has always meant examining the mechanics of the accident,” Gosai says. “As I was reading the UBC news report concerning surfer head injuries, I found it completely plausible that surfers can, in fact, suffer concussions despite not hitting their heads in more widely accepted manners. It solidified my understanding there are so many different types of factors that can cause concussions.”

Concussions can occur because of violent shaking or a blow to the head, or face or neck injuries that cause the brain to move within the skull. Such an injury is considered serious, and there can be long-term symptoms, including blurry vision, nausea, anxiety, sensitivity to noise and light, drowsiness, depression, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears and memory loss, she says.

Gosai says many of her clients suffered concussions after they were propelled forward by the impact of a vehicle collision and their heads then slammed back against the headrest.

“Some of my clients don’t even realize they’ve suffered a concussion,” she says. “What ends up happening is the client starts noticing the symptoms, making complaints to their physician who then determines that in fact, it was the traumatic event/accident that caused the post-concussion syndrome.

“While a concussion may not get diagnosed immediately following the incident, post-concussion syndrome can often be diagnosed several months later,” Gosai says.

Delaying medical treatment or not receiving appropriate treatment for a concussion or post-concussion syndrome could jeopardize the complainant's legal claim, depending on the circumstances, she says.

“There are legally prescribed limits within which to advance a claim,” Gosai says. “I generally find that the younger members of the population have a greater tendency to downplay and even ignore pain.”

The Limitations Act stipulates that there is a two-year time limit to make a claim after someone has been involved in a traumatic event or they discover the extent of their injuries, Gosai says.

“The longer you wait to get appropriate treatment, the more difficult it can be to prove your case,” she says. “For example, if a plaintiff had been experiencing injury-related pain but failed to seek medical advice/care, opposing counsel will certainly suggest that the plaintiff didn’t mitigate their damages.

“They should have talked about it with a medical professional and sought out medical counsel, but they didn’t. They have an uphill battle making a claim when the passage of time between the incident and the reporting of symptoms is significant,” Gosai says. “The limitation clock starts when you discover you have been injured.

"When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you immediately have a responsibility to mitigate it,” she says.

An insurance company will not consider responding to a claim if the cause of the current symptoms cannot be causally related to the incident, Gosai says. The company “will argue, ‘why should we be responsible for you not seeking the proper course of therapy?’” she says.

It goes back to seeking out proper medical treatment at the appropriate time, Gosai says.

Someone who has suffered head trauma should consider medical treatment immediately, she says.

“You have to be aware” of the symptoms of a concussion or post-concussion syndrome, and pay specific attention to how your body is feeling if you don't remember hitting your head. Absolutely seek out advice from a medical practitioner as soon as it is practical so that they can put you through their testing criteria,” Gosai says.

She says a personal injury lawyer should be involved “as soon as you think there’s something not right,” usually between six to eight weeks after an incident.

“If you’re not feeling well, and your symptoms are not resolved within six to eight weeks, then you need to seek out legal advice,” Gosai says.

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