How Long After Brain Injury Can Symptoms Occur?

A woman experiencing brain injury symptom.Symptoms of a brain injury can manifest themselves hours, days, and sometimes even weeks after the injury occurs. The occurrence of delayed symptoms generates medical dangers, and it complicates the process of obtaining injury compensation.

Delayed Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Mild TBI, including virtually all concussions, might not even cause you to lose consciousness. Imagine, for example, slipping in the shower and experiencing confusion, headaches, nausea, slurred speech and drowsiness. Some of the more late-breaking traumatic brain injury symptoms include:

  • Changes in your sense of smell or taste,
  • Depression,
  • Vertigo and balance problems,
  • Tiredness,
  • Headaches,
  • Insomnia,
  • Sensitivity to light,
  • Amnesia,
  • Moodiness, and
  • Difficulty concentrating.

With mild TBI, any loss of consciousness will typically last for no more than half an hour.

Delayed Symptoms of Moderate to Severe TBI

You might suffer moderate or severe TBI for a variety of reasons from getting hit in the head with a baseball to suffering a serious car accident. This level of injury is always accompanied by a loss of consciousness for longer than half an hour. It may also include symptoms similar to mild TBI, such as nausea and slurred speech. More severe symptoms might include vomiting, a loss of bowel control, and even seizures. In such cases, some of the possible delayed traumatic brain injury symptoms can include:

  • Amnesia,
  • Psychological problems,
  • Confusion,
  • Inability to articulate thoughts,
  • Numbness in extremities (hands, fingers, feet and toes),
  • Epilepsy,
  • Spinal fluid leaking from the ears or nose,
  • Paralysis, and
  • Coma.

In extreme cases, moderate or severe TBI can even result in death.

Second Impact Syndrome and the Medical Consequences of Failure to Recognize TBI

One of the most dangerous aspects of the delayed onset of TBI symptoms is the failure to recognize that you suffered a TBI at all. You can lose valuable time by failing to seek medical treatment because you don’t believe that you need to. The situation can become deadly if an athlete suffers a head injury during a game and the coaching staff sends them back onto the field to play.

Suffering TBI, even in its milder forms, can reduce the brain’s ability to absorb any further shocks that might occur before the first injury has fully healed. The most deadly reaction of this nature, second impact syndrome (SIS), causes the brain to swell rapidly. The fatality rate among SIS victims is about 50%, and even survivors typically suffer permanent disability.

Symptoms of SIS

Hopefully, you will never need to know the symptoms of SIS, because you will never experience or witness this condition. Nevertheless, it is important to be familiar with them just in case. SIS is insidious.

The victim might not even lose consciousness at first. If the injury occurs during a game, the victim may even continue to play. Within a minute or two, however, a player can collapse and lose consciousness. The victim’s pupils will dilate, followed by respiratory failure and possibly death. All of this happens within a few minutes after impact.

The Legal Consequences of Delayed Symptoms of TBI

Two major legal consequences frequently arise as a consequence of delayed TBI symptoms: (i) a wrongful death claim when a player is sent back onto the field after suffering an initial TBI, and (ii) difficulty establishing a personal injury claim because of a failure to seek prompt medical attention.

Wrongful Death

In Iowa, a wrongful death claim arises when someone’s death is caused by the negligence or other misconduct of someone else. Since SIS deaths typically occur when a coach sends an athlete back out to play after a head injury, wrongful death claims often arise in this context. The defendant may or may not prevail by arguing that since symptoms were delayed, they had no way of knowing that the victim should not have been sent back out to play.

Difficulty Establishing a Personal Injury Claim

If you suffer a head injury, seek medical attention immediately even if you do not believe you are seriously injured. The reasons for this necessity are both medical and legal. Failing to promptly treat a head injury could worsen your condition, and continuing to engage in the activity that caused the head injury in the first place could be deadly. Another important reason to seek medical attention is to gather evidence for a personal injury claim.

At the Scene of the Accident

Barring serious injury, you will need to remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. The police will gather evidence that they can use to support criminal charges or that you can use to prove a personal injury claim. The insurance company will want a copy of the police report.

The police will ask you whether you suffered any injuries. If you suffered TBI but you are not yet experiencing any symptoms, you might be tempted to downplay your condition. If you do this but experience more serious symptoms later, be aware that the police report could be used to contest your claim, either in court or at the negotiating table. Instead, it is better to indicate that you aren’t sure about the extent of your injuries.

After Your Delayed Symptoms Appear

As long as you are still alive, it is never too late to seek medical attention for a head injury. Not only might you be saving your own life by doing so, you will be generating evidence that could turn out to be critical to establishing your claim. The fact that head injuries often produce delayed symptoms is not a fact that is unknown in the medical and legal communities. Thus, although delayed treatment can complicate your case, it is a manageable challenge to your ability to assert a viable personal injury claim.

Experienced Injury Attorney on Your Side

The traumatic brain injury lawyer at 303 Legal, P.C., has represented a great number of clients who suffered mild, moderate, or severe TBI. Late-breaking symptoms are a common challenge when it comes to this sort of injury, and it is a challenge that we have successfully met time and time again.

Most of our clients win their claims at the negotiating table. Nevertheless, we are ready to duke it out in court if necessary. Ironically, it is our outstanding trial record that strikes fear into the heart of opposing parties and encourages them to settle outside of court. Fill out our online contact form, call us directly at 319-423-3031, or visit our office in Cedar Rapids, IA, to schedule a free consultation. And don’t forget—you only pay us if we win.