Did My Child Get a Concussion from a Car Wreck?

sleeping child in car seat

It is a difficult and frightening experience as a parent to watch your child struggle through a personal injury, particularly a head injury.  Car wrecks are a leading cause of head injuries for children, so it is reasonable to wonder if your child suffered a concussion following a collision.  There are a wide range of symptoms, ranging from headaches to forgetfulness, and it is important to identify a concussion early in your child so that recovery starts immediately.

A concussion is a type of brain injury that happens when the head is impacted by such force that the brain and head move violently back and forth, sometimes causing the brain to hit against the skull.  This leads to a myriad of health issues and could harm a child’s brain development if not treated immediately.

Concussions happen in children more often than you may think.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a single year, about 812,000 children under 17 years old were treated in emergency rooms for concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  Many different scenarios can cause a concussion in a child, but they mainly happen from playing sports, such as football or ice hockey, a bicycle or skateboarding accident, or from a car accident.

Researchers are finding that children are more likely to suffer lingering health problems long after the event that caused the concussion.  A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that children who lost consciousness during their concussion were far more likely to suffer from future complications nearly a year after their injury.  These complications could include adverse health issues such as forgetfulness, inability to maintain focus, fatigue, or headaches.

Concussion Symptoms

A concussion may be referred to as a mild TBI, but they can cause serious issues and sometimes could be fatal.  When diagnosing a concussion, it is important to understand that you do not necessarily have to hit your head to cause a concussion, as one could occur from events such as a sudden jolt to the head or whiplash.

The symptoms of a concussion can also be delayed by a few hours, days, or even weeks after the event.  Should your child experience any of the following symptoms following a car accident, have them seek medical treatment immediately:

  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Delay in motor skills or delays in response
  • Sluggish speech
  • Sensitivity to light or audio
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeplessness or restlessness
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irritability
  • Anger

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that injuries that occur in children are more serious than if they occurred in adults, specifically head injuries to young children, as their brains are still developing.  This explains why concussions to a younger child can have far-reaching consequences as the child grows up, and symptoms may not reveal themselves until years later.

The NHTSA also reports that:

  • The age group that has the most head and chest injuries sustained from a car wreck are children under 12 months old.
  • Children are more likely to have serious injuries when in a rollover-type car accident.
  • Children are more likely to suffer brain, head, or spine injuries in car wrecks.
  • About 20 percent of children injured in a car accident are hurt because of incorrect child seat usage.

Diagnosing a Concussion in Your Child

It is always a good idea to have your child be seen by a doctor following a car wreck, regardless of any visible injuries or symptoms.  Symptoms can take hours, if not days to manifest themselves, especially after the shock and adrenaline from a car accident wears down.  Mild concussions share the same symptoms as moderate and severe TBIs such as bleeding on the brain, which could be fatal if not treated, so it is imperative to get your child checked out even if you believe the symptoms are not serious.

A doctor will perform a series of tests and examinations to determine the severity of the concussion and may perform an imaging test if necessary.  However, CT scans or MRIs do not show concussions but may reveal other underlying problems, especially if the patient is vomiting, was unconscious, or has severe headaches.

If symptoms persist even after seeing a doctor, it is possible that the concussion was misdiagnosed and your child may need to see a specialist such as a neurologist, particularly ones who focus on TBI.

Treating a Concussion

Concussions heal differently from person to person, but generally they require plenty of rest to heal properly.  Children suffering from a concussion need to stay away from activities, particularly physical ones, or activities where their symptoms could interfere.

  • For the first few days, let your child relax at home and do quiet activities that do not require much thought. If symptoms begin to interfere with the activities, have them take a break from it.
  • Cut down on screen time, such as watching television, playing video games, or using social media. Light from the screens can exacerbate symptoms such as headaches or light sensitivity.
  • Avoid any physical activities like school sports.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and sleep.
  • As time passes, your child can resume activities as their symptoms allow.

Preventing Concussions in Children

Sports, falls, and accidents are common causes in concussions and TBIs in children, but there are ways for parents to help prevent them from occurring.

  • When driving, make sure all children are properly in their seats and restrained.
  • Use car seats that are suitable for your child’s size and age and always make sure they are buckled in properly.
  • Use the appropriate safety equipment for certain activities, such as a helmet when bicycling or skateboarding, or when participating in sports like lacrosse or football. A concussion may still happen when wearing a helmet, but the helmet does prevent more serious injuries.
  • Have your child understand how to prevent concussions as well, particularly when they are playing sports. For instance, if they play football, make sure they understand how to tackle correctly and never use their head.
  • Have a discussion with your youngsters about the symptoms of a concussion and remain knowledgeable about them yourself. Have your child be comfortable with reporting to you should they ever hit their head or are experiencing any symptoms.
  • Having a concussion increases the chances of suffering another one in the future. Never ignore your child should they experience any symptoms, and make sure they receive medical attention right away.

Maryland Car Accident Laws

Should you and your child get injured in a car wreck, it is important to know the accident laws in Maryland to better understand your options.

  • Statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit you have to bring a lawsuit to court. In Maryland, the time limit is three years from the date of the accident.  In a wrongful death lawsuit, in which someone dies as a result of an accident, the statute of limitations starts from the date of the person’s death, not the accident itself.  Attempting to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired will more than likely result in your case being dismissed.
  • Contributory negligence. Many states follow a comparative negligence rule regarding lawsuits, meaning that even an at-fault driver for an accident can collect some damages as long as they are not found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. However, Maryland is a contributory negligence state.  With this law, if you are found to be even the slightest bit responsible for an accident, you may not recover any damages.
  • At-fault insurance. Maryland is an at-fault insurance state, meaning that whoever is responsible for causing an accident is liable to pay for the damages they caused. A person who suffered an injury can file a claim under their own policy, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.


Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Children and Their Families Injured in Car Accidents

Getting into a car accident can be a scary experience, especially if you had children in the vehicle.  If you or your child has been injured in a car accident, reach out to the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton.  Our knowledgeable team has years of experience with these types of cases and will help you and your family receive full and fair compensation. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.