A concern our personal injury lawyers often hear from clients who have been concussed is in regard to their driving ability and corresponding legal standing. Cognitive impairment is one of the major reasons an individual may not be allowed to drive after suffering a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion. However, concussions have become a relatively ambiguous term. Despite their prevalence, they are difficult to diagnose as they can produce an array of symptoms or none at all.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a typically mild brain injury in which an individual suffers a blow to the head resulting in some degree of confusion, dizziness, and other symptoms. This occurs due to a moment of impact (often due to a sports injury or car accident) during which the brain is literally bounced around in the head and can endure tearing, bleeding, or bruising of nerve fibres.
Many people are unsure if the injury they have sustained is in fact, a concussion. While it’s important to visit a medical professional in all cases, signs of a concussion often include dizziness, sensitivity to light, mood changes, and headaches.
When can you return to the road after a concussion?
Although standalone concussions may not be detrimental in the long term the way a series of concussions in a short period of time may be, they certainly impair your ability to drive. If you think you may have suffered a concussion or brain injury, be sure to have your condition evaluated by a medical professional and seek out some legal advice. Individuals who have suffered a concussion should not be behind the wheel until their doctor declares it safe for them to do so. Generally, this decision is based on a number of professional assessments such as medical or neurophysical exams, visual tests, and driving tests (simulated or on the road).
The risks of driving while concussed
While life-long symptoms are unlikely in most cases, concussion sufferers tend to experience a substantial impact in their daily life following the injury. Researchers from the University of Georgia conducted a study in which they made an alarming conclusion: at times, concussed individuals demonstrated the same ability to operate a motor vehicle on someone under the influence of alcohol.
What is even more unsettling is that only half of concussed individuals intend to restrict their driving following the concussion. Furthermore, the study tested participants driving ability by placing them in a driving simulator two days after the injury was sustained and compared their findings with performance results after an appropriate recovery time had elapsed. They determined that in many cases symptoms had disappeared, but their driving performance was still hindered.
The legal risks are evident; though you may consider yourself recovered, without a definite determination from a medical professional you may still be putting yourself and others at risk if you choose to drive while concussed, and you may be held liable.
If you or someone you love has been in an accident and suffered a concussion, or if you have questions about your legal standing after the injury, our team of personal injury lawyers at Zayouna Law can help. Call us at 1-866-929-6862.