After you or a loved one sustained injuries in an accident, it can be difficult to know what symptoms are normal and which may indicate a new medical issue. Second impact syndrome (SIS) is a particularly concerning ailment that could result from an accident. While some symptoms show up immediately, other delayed effects of secondary impact syndrome might not surface until weeks or months later. If the negligence of another caused your or a loved one’s secondary impact syndrome, you might be entitled to compensation after the accident. 

secondary impact syndrome

Second Impact Syndrome

A traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, or any other brain injury can be an initial assault on the brain. Brain injuries often happen because of car accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and so on. 

Second Impact Syndrome occurs when a brain injury victim receives a second injury before the first one has fully healed. Even though the second injury might be minor or incidental, the fact the initial brain injury did not heal before experiencing a second trauma could result in a catastrophic injury to the brain.

Second impact syndrome symptoms are immediate and include the following:

  • Dilated pupils,
  • Loss of consciousness,
  • Respiratory problems,
  • Blindness,
  • Seizures, and
  • Brain herniation.

Brain herniation is shifting brain tissue from one space in the skull to another through various folds and openings. Second impact syndrome is especially dangerous and is always a medical emergency where the victim requires immediate treatment.

Why Is Second Impact Syndrome Dangerous?

When a person suffers second impact syndrome, the second impact can cause the already damaged brain tissue to swell inside the skull. SIS is dangerous because the swelling causes catastrophic brain damage and death in the worst cases.

If the victim gets to a hospital quickly enough, there is hope. Immediate stabilization is necessary, and physicians must focus on the victim’s respiratory distress and circulation. The patient may receive mannitol, a sucrose-like substance that reduces pressure within the skull. Neurosurgery is often required. It can be a long, hard road ahead, and the patient may remain hospitalized for weeks or months. Even if the patient survives, virtually all SIS victims will suffer a lifelong disability. Common impairments include the following:

  • Memory loss,
  • Mobility problems, and
  • Neurological issues.

These symptoms often lead to feelings of isolation from friends and family or personality shifts that alienate the victim even further. If unchecked, this downward spiral could cause depression and anxiety, compounding already difficult circumstances.

Anyone who has suffered a brain injury in an accident must prevent a second head injury for the next several weeks. This means that victims must take as few risks as possible until the doctor clears them. Fewer risks mean not participating in any activities that include the risk of falling or head impact. If the victim’s type of employment poses hazards, they should not perform those jobs without a physician’s approval.

How Do I Receive Compensation for Second Impact Syndrome?

One traumatic brain injury can radically change the course of your life in an instant. Two brain injuries back to back can be life-threatening—not to mention the cause of significant financial stress and personal hardship down the road.

You are likely entitled to compensation if you’ve suffered a second impact brain injury due to someone else’s negligence. Compensation means reaching a fair settlement with an insurance company or fighting for compensation at trial.

Negotiating a Settlement

Most people who file a brain injury claim never battle it out in court. Instead, they enter negotiations with the insurance company of the liable party and work to settle their claim without the need for judicial interference. But that doesn’t mean you should take the first (or even second or third) offer the insurance company tosses your way, as these offers are usually for significantly less than your case is worth. The insurance adjuster is hoping that you are so desperate for money that you will jump at whatever figure they toss out. Don’t be fooled, because once you sign an agreement—you can never go back for more money, even if your expenses increase dramatically. Figuring out a fair settlement amount isn’t always straightforward, and settling for a low payout that does not support your needs does not help your situation.

In other words, negotiating an SIS settlement is important but also very risky. Without an attorney, it would be difficult to be confident that the payout will be sufficient to meet your current and future needs. 

Proving the Elements

Additionally, you must prove all the legal elements against the other party. In a case involving negligence, you must prove the four elements of negligence before becoming legally entitled to compensation. After you have shown that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to you that they violated, you must show that you would not have been injured had it not been for the defendant’s actions. Then, you must prove the extent of your damages.

Causation, the third element, is often tricky in a personal injury case.

One way defendants avoid liability in an SIS case is to argue that there is no causation for the plaintiff’s injuries because the plaintiff was susceptible to the injury due to their previous brain injury. It takes a professional to overcome such legal arguments that seek to deny you the help you need and deserve.

Eggshell Skull Rule

Generally, a person injured in an accident is not entitled to compensation for a pre-existing condition or injury. However, if that physical or emotional condition is made worse by the accident, they may recover the damages necessary to compensate them for the full extent of the injury. 

The defendant is liable to pay for the damages they have caused to the specific and unique plaintiff. Under the “eggshell skull rule,” California law recognizes that many injury victims have pre-existing conditions that can be made worse by an accident. Under the rule, you take an injured person as you find them. It does not matter what condition the plaintiff was in before the accident. In other words, even if an accident would not have injured an average person, the negligent person may still be liable for a susceptible victim’s injuries. 

The eggshell skull rule is a relief for the plaintiff, who may not otherwise be able to prove causation between the extent of their harm and the defendant’s actions because of their medical condition. 

Our Lawyers Understand Secondary Impact Syndrome Cases

The lawyers at GJEL Accident Attorneys are top-rated California personal injury attorneys with a 99% success rate. We have helped accident victims for over 40 years. During that time, we’ve earned a well-deserved reputation for obtaining significant settlements for our clients, evidenced by over $950 Million dollars recovered for accident victims and their loved ones. We will fight hard to get justice with no upfront cost to you. Contact one of our California-based locations today!

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