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Negligence - College Student Suffers Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome

NEGLIGENCE

Injuries:
Concussion, Post-Concussion Syndrome

Settlement:
$1.6 million two weeks before trial

Date:
May, 2019

Attorney:
Breakstone, White & Gluck, P.C., Boston (for the plaintiff)

Case Description:
College Student Suffers Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome 

The 21 year old female college student suffered a concussion and post-concussion syndrome in March, 2014.  The injury occurred at an entertainment venue at which the plaintiff was a spectator.  Further details of this incident are withheld due to a confidentiality agreement. 

At the scene of the incident the plaintiff suffered a laceration to her head and was taken by ambulance to the hospital where eight staples were used to close the gash.  She was discharged from the hospital on the evening of the incident. 

At the time of the incident the plaintiff was a college student in the Boston area majoring in interior design, a career which requires significant use of computers to create CAD designs.  She hoped to return to school the day after the incident but due to symptoms of concussion she returned to her parent’s home and eventually withdrew from school for the rest of that semester.  She was restricted to a darkened room for two months due to light sensitivity from the concussion.  Use of computers increased her symptoms. Four months after the incident, she received permission from her neurologist to participate in a semester abroad program in Europe on the condition that she receive accommodations in her courses including extra time on tests, limited use of computers and a reduced course load.  The plaintiff successfully completed her semester abroad although the academic requirements were far less rigorous than those at her college in the United States.  While she was abroad the plaintiff traveled throughout Europe on multiple occasions but her activities while traveling were curtailed to prevent overstimulation and exhaustion that could result from her brain injury.

When the plaintiff returned from her semester abroad, she re-enrolled at her college with a reduced course load and achieved a GPA consistent with what she had obtained before the incident occurred.  However, she found the work exhausting.  As a result, she further reduced her course load for the next semester.  She again received the same level of grades but still found the work cognitively exhausting.  Use of computers continued to exacerbate her post- concussion symptoms and she suffered physical symptoms from her cognitive exhaustion. As a result, she withdrew from college altogether.   

The plaintiff received consistent cognitive therapy, psyche therapy, and physical therapy and had regular visits to her neurologist who confirmed ongoing symptoms of concussion and post-concussion syndrome.

The plaintiff did not return to college due to her ongoing post- concussion syndrome.  In an effort to remain productive she worked part-time at the front desk of a fitness center  and discovered that she was able to work approximately four hours per day before she would become cognitively exhausted which would lead to symptoms of physical illness, including dizziness, vision changes, mood alteration, and significant headaches.  She settled into a 16 hour per week work schedule and ultimately became certified as a yoga instructor teaching one or two classes per week.

The plaintiff’s injuries resulted in her establishing a lifestyle that was different from the one she lived before the incident occurred. She became a person who went to bed by 9:00 in the evening. She limited her socializing in order to prevent the onset of physical symptoms that would inevitably occur if she overstimulated her brain. 

The plaintiff was prepared to offer testimony from multiple experts leading to an overall expert presentation which concluded that the plaintiff was unable to return to her previous course of study and that as a result she would not receive a college degree which would result in a significant loss of earning capacity. 

The defendant intended to present expert testimony from a neurologist whose opinion it was that although the plaintiff suffered a concussion, she fully recovered from her injury after three months and did not require additional medical treatment after that period of time.  Defendant’s vocational rehabilitation expert would have testified that plaintiff had no loss of earning capacity and was fully capable of graduating from college and working in her desired field. 

The plaintiff continues to work part time at the fitness center as a yoga instructor and in an administrative capacity.  The case settled two weeks before trial for $1.6 million dollars.  Plaintiff’s medical expenses were $45,000.   
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