Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Is Having an MRI Done Helpful if Someone has a Concussion?

    A standard MRI is usually not helpful for a concussion. This is because a standard MRI maps the structure of the brain and not its function. A standard MRI is a powerful tool in detecting structural damage to the soft tissues of the brain, as seen with strokes, aneurysms, tumors, bleeding in the brain, etc. But a concussion affects how your brain functions and communicates information with the body. Your brain is made up of billions of neurons or brain cells that communicate with each other to perform thousands of functions. A concussion disrupts communication between neurons and can have a significant impact upon a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities at the same level prior to sustaining a concussion. A standard MRI cannot detect alterations in neural communication. This disruption in how the brain functions is the hallmark of a concussion and not visible on a standard MRI scan.

    Sometimes a standard MRI will be ordered by a healthcare provider if neurologic symptoms progress, there are focal neurological findings on a physical exam, or there is concern for a skull fracture or other injury. Without these clinical symptoms however, most healthcare providers forgo ordering a standard MRI which typically comes back normal because mapping brain structure is not the same as mapping brain function. For mapping brain function, a specialized MRI called a functional MRI can be an option. Research has shown this type of specialized MRI is helpful in revealing brain connectivity or brain activity which can be helpful in treating a concussion or diagnosing post-concussion syndrome.

    Experienced Florida Brain Injury Attorney

    Jim Dodson is an experienced brain injury attorney with over 25 years of experience representing victims who have suffered a concussion or brain injury from the negligence of someone else. If you have immediate questions and want to speak to Jim, call our office at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • Why Should I be Concerned About My Child or a Loved One Getting a Concussion?

    What is a Concussion?

    Contrary to what many people believe, a concussion is not simply a “bruise” to the brain after bumping the head. A concussion is actually a traumatic brain injury. They are caused when the head is hit or hits something which results in the brain to rapidly accelerating inside the skull. When the rapidly moving skull comes to an abrupt stop, the momentum of the brain causes it to strike the inside of the skull with great force. This all happens very rapidly, but far from being just a quick event, it initiates processes deep within the brain tissue which may last a lifetime.

    What Happens Inside the Brain?

    The brain is a highly-organized, extremely complex, and powerful command center of the human body. It governs our emotions, thoughts, memories, learning, intelligence, creativity, movement, speech, our senses and so much more. Its capabilities are amazing. But it is very fragile. The brain is soft and delicate and has a Jell-O-like consistency. Inside the brain are billions of neurons, which communicate signals over long-spindly structures, called axons. The smooth and uninterrupted transmission of these signals over the axons is vital to the brain’s ability to properly control our bodies.

    The skull serves to protect the brain from external blows to the head, but when the head or torso is subjected to a sudden force or jolt, the brain forcefully shifts and moves inside the skull, causing the neurons and axons to stretch and even tear. When an axon is torn, it not only disrupts the brain’s ability to communicate its vital signals, but also causes the death of surrounding neurons from toxins which are released when the destroyed axons begin to degrade and deteriorate.

    What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

    Symptoms of many concussions are immediately visible. Sometimes, however, they become apparent much later. Symptoms that typically appear immediately include headache, confusion, disorientation, loss of consciousness, amnesia about how the injury occurred, dizziness, and others. Symptoms that can occur later include depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, fatigue, visual disturbances, problems with concentration and attention, memory problems, sleep disturbances, as well as changes in mood and behavior.

    How Long Does it Take a Concussion to Heal?

    Each brain is unique, and each injury is unique. There are also different levels of concussion severity (from mild to severe). The average complete healing time for a concussion is typically 2-3 months according to scientific literature. Getting appropriate medical care, following physician’s orders, and protecting yourself from receiving another concussion while healing from an initial concussion, are crucial to the healing process. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, concussion symptoms can last well beyond the “normal” healing period. In fact, people can suffer these symptoms for months or even years after the event. Suffering concussion symptoms beyond the time that is considered “normal” is called Post-Concussion Syndrome (or PCS). PCS is a serious medical condition that wreaks havoc on a person’s daily life – interfering with work, social life, school, hobbies, and personal relationships. Persistent post-concussion syndrome may be considered a permanent injury and its effects may ripple throughout one’s life.

    Experienced Florida Brain Injury Lawyer

    Jim Dodson, an experienced brain injury lawyer has over 25 years experience successfully representing clients who have suffered a brain injury from the wrongdoing of someone else. If you have immediate questions and want to speak to Jim, call our office at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • How Do You Know if You Need a CT Scan After Concussion?

    A CT scan is a medical imaging test used by physicians to diagnose certain conditions. It combines a series of x-rays and computer technology to create structural images of the body. Immediately following a head injury, a CT scan is commonly used to diagnose suspected bleeding in the brain, swelling of the brain, and skull fractures which may be life threatening and require emergency surgery. Signs and symptoms of bleeding in the brain or a skull fracture include seizures, unequal pupil size, blood or fluid coming from the ear or nose, bruising under the eyes, and repetitive vomiting.

    While a CT scan is fast and highly effective in detecting brain bleeding, brain swelling, and skull fractures, it is not effective in detecting a concussion because a concussion affects how the brain works. A concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) results in microscopic injury to axons (or nerve fibers) not visible on a CT scan. The chemical and electrical changes occurring deep inside the brain that disrupt brain function after concussion are imperceptible on a CT scan.

    The disruption of brain function that occurs after mTBI is invisible on a CT scan. A CT scan is expensive, not always practical, or possible, and exposes patients to radiation, which is thought to be especially harmful to children. In fact, children must meet higher symptom criteria before a CT scan is administered. The use of a CT scan is preferably avoided after a head injury unless a more serious injury including a brain bleed or skull fracture is suspected.

    Florida personal injury attorney, Jim Dodson is a legal expert in brain injuries. He has over 25 years experience successfully representing brain injury victims. Our law firm welcomes the opportunity to answer your questions and give you guidance on what can be done to help you. Give us a call at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • What is the Best Scan for Diagnosing an Acute Concussion?

    A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or commonly known as concussion, is a clinical diagnosis; no single test can definitively confirm the diagnosis of an acute concussion. A clinical diagnosis means that a physician or other qualified healthcare professional will make a diagnosis based on the history of the injury, the patient’s signs and symptoms, and a physical exam. There is no best scan for diagnosing an acute concussion. In fact, concussions are routinely diagnosed in emergency departments and urgent care centers without a brain scan.

    A concussion does not result in large structural changes to the brain visible on traditional scans such as MRI and CT scan. A concussion triggers chemical and electrical changes in the brain. While these changes often result in widespread disruption of function days, weeks, or even months later, even the most sensitive MRI and CT scans currently available will not detect the chemical and electrical changes that occur in the concussed brain.  Additionally, scans are expensive, sometimes not readily available, and in the case of a CT scan, expose the patient to unnecessary radiation. For these reasons, scans are not routinely performed during an assessment of a suspected concussion. A CT scan may be used in ER settings to determine whether there is active bleeding within the skull which can be an emergency situation requiring surgery. However, most such CT scans are normal.

    If a concussion is suspected, it is important to be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional who is knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating concussions. A proper evaluation and diagnosis of concussion is the first step in an individual’s progress after injury.

    If you or someone you know has experienced a concussion from a car accident, a bike crash, a fall, or any other event caused by the negligence of someone else, you should discuss the circumstances with an experienced brain injury attorney.

  • Why Would the Emergency Room Diagnose Concussion Without a CT Scan or MRI?

    A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or commonly known as concussion is a clinical diagnosis; there is no single test to definitively confirm the diagnosis of concussion. Doctors assess the history of the patient’s injury, the patient’s symptoms, and perform a physical examination. In the vast majority of mTBI cases, a CT scan finds no abnormality or visible signs of injury. Even the most sensitive CT scanners are not able to detect the changes that occur deep within the brain following a concussion. Also, CT scans are expensive, not always practical, or possible, and expose patients to radiation (which can elevate cancer risks).  For these reasons, a CT scan is not routinely performed during a concussion assessment. An ER physician may order a CT scan of the brain however, to rule out a brain bleed or a skull fracture that may need emergency surgery as sometimes seen with a direct blow to the head. But otherwise, a CT scan is unnecessary for many people and avoided if possible.

    Like CT scans, a traditional MRI will not detect the subtleties of a concussion in the ER. A traditional MRI can detect large structural damage of the brain in more severe head injuries but are often not helpful in making the initial diagnosis of concussion. MRIs are expensive (costing twice as much as a CT scan) and can take up to two hours to complete making them an impractical diagnostic tool for a suspected concussion in the ER. MRIs are more often used to rule something out like a brain breed or brain swelling. Health care providers may use newer, more specialized MRIs or a functional MRI weeks or months after the initial concussion diagnosis to evaluate how well the brain is functioning in patients with ongoing symptoms. Commonly brain damage occurs over time following the initial injury. MRI is used after the passage of time to see if the damage has become extensive enough to be detected by MRI, following progression of the damage to neurons and surrounding tissues.

    If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury following a Florida accident you should speak with our legal expert on brain injuries, attorney Jim Dodson. He has over 25 years experience successfully representing brain injury victims and can answer all your questions. Give us a call at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • If My Bike was Totaled in a Crash with a Car Do I Get a Full Cost Replacement?

    A totaled bike is no different than a totaled car in Florida. The insurance company for the driver who caused the crash is obligated to pay you its fair market value, not its full replacement cost. Fair market value is what it was worth just before the crash taking depreciation into consideration. There is no set formula to calculate fair market value. Insurance adjusters typically want to apply a 5 or 10% depreciation for each year since it was purchased. Many times your dealer can help.

    There is also a “blue book” for bicycles which I have had insurance companies rely upon. In practice, I always suggest to my client to begin with the replacement value. We have had many situations where this has been paid. If that doesn’t work, we fall back to purchase price and see if we can reach an agreement. We are always working to get the very highest number. The circumstances of every case varies as does what they will pay.

    We don’t charge any attorney fee for helping get your bike replaced if it is part of your injury case. The most expensive bike we have had so far is $15,000, along with some $12,000 ones.

  • Can a Cyclist Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike in Florida

    For many the answer to this question may come as a bit of a surprise. Did you know it is against the law to wear headphones or earbuds while riding a bicycle in Florida? Turns out, Florida is one of only two states (with the other being Maryland) that does not permit the use of headphones while riding a bicycle. Fla. Stat. §316.304 states:

    No person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of defective human hearing.

    Remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle. This prohibition still applies when riding on a sidewalk. Even though cyclists on the sidewalk have the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians, the bicycle is still governed as a “vehicle” and therefore this law applies.

    Headphones interfere with hearing ambient traffic as well as audible warnings from other cyclists and pedestrians. The statute could also be used as evidence of comparative fault if a crash occurred and you were wearing headphones at the time. It would be argued that you should have heard the approaching vehicle.

  • Is Your Dog Covered Under Your Homeowner’s Insurance in Florida?

    According to the American Pet Producer’s Association, over 63 million American Households include mankind’s best friend. This is probably why dog-related injuries are the most common liability claim on homeowner’s insurance policies. These claims include not only dog bites but also dogs knocking down children, cyclists, pedestrians, etc., all of which can result in severe injuries. Even your cute, little, lap dog may cause someone to fall.

    Although many homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog liability up to the policy limits, there are quite a few exceptions. It is important to note that even if your homeowner’s policy covers dog injuries, any damages above your liability limits could put you on the hook personally for the additional losses.

    In addition, some insurance companies will not insure homeowners with dogs who they believe to be a “dangerous” breed, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. Others decide on a case by case basis whether an individual dog, regardless of breed, has a past history. Once the dog has bitten someone, the insurance company may charge a higher premium or exclude the dog, or their owner, from coverage altogether.

    Finally, some insurance companies have an absolute or total dog injury exclusion and others are only willing to cover a certain amount below the policy limits for injuries caused by a dog. For instance, you may have a $300,000 liability limit but the company will limit your coverage to $50,000 for dog related injuries.

    The best way to find out how your homeowner’s insurance policy handles your canine best friend is to either read the policy or call the company.

  • Do You Need to Buy Insurance for Your Golf Cart in Florida?

    From neighborhood jaunts to even off-road adventuring, golf carts have grown far beyond their original purpose. But what if you are injured, or worse, if you injure someone else, while riding in your golf cart? Some people mistakenly assume that their existing automobile or homeowner’s insurance will cover the claim. This is not always the case.

    Most homeowners polices will cover the cart while you are on the course or only use the cart on your own property. Most auto insurance policies will not cover a golf cart without specific language or endorsement allowing it.

    It is possible to obtain insurance for your golf cart. This can cover property loss due to damage or theft as well as bodily injury and liability insurance. It can be done as an endorsement on your existing homeowners or car insurance policy or as a totally separate policy.

    As always, the best way to know what is covered by your insurance policy is to check with your insurance agent and ask them to show you where in the policy it discusses what you want to have covered. If you find your cart is not covered, I highly recommend doing so.

  • How Can Social Media Ruin Your Florida Personal Injury Case?

    Social media is a major part of many people’s day to day lives in 2020. Many people don’t know if you are injured in an accident then social media can seriously destroy your case. The scary truth is the insurance company and their lawyers will be looking at your social media posts. I have seen far too many cases where the other side shows social media posts to discredit a client’s injuries.

    Regardless of whether your profile is set to “private” or “friends only,” everything on your profile can be brought into your claim and into court.

    While we would not ask you to refrain from social media altogether, if you are ever engaged in litigation or considering litigation following an injury, it is best not to post anything at all during this period.  Someone could interpret almost any photo of you doing an activity as being inconsistent with your injury. Even photos of you smiling or with friends are used to suggest you’re doing alright and things aren’t as bad as you claim.

    If you would like to learn more about how seemingly harmless social media posts can destroy your personal injury claim, download our free report, Important Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims.