An Overview of Second Impact Syndrome Laws in California

Second Impact Syndrome

Second Impact Syndrome

The roadways in California are hazardous. Accidents are the cause of 600 injuries every day in the state. Many are familiar with the typical car accident injuries of abdominal pain, back pain, head injuries, neck pain, and post-traumatic stress disorders. However, it’s possible that not many have heard of second impact syndrome.

Receiving immediate medical treatment is always advisable but may not resolve all medical problems from the accident. In addition to the most common car accident injuries, you are at risk of developing second impact syndrome (SIS).

While not well known, this head injury is significant enough that California has special SIS laws. Keep reading about second impact syndrome and California law so you know what to watch for and precautions to take if you are in a car accident.


What Is Second Impact Syndrome?

Second impact syndrome (SIS) happens when a person suffers a second concussion before healing from their first concussion. This is often fatal. However, if the injury does not result in death, it can lead to a permanent disability.

The impact does not necessarily have to be extreme. Death often occurs shortly after receiving the second concussion because the brain cannot regulate the cerebral spinal fluid pressure. The result is severe swelling and herniation of the brain.

An auto accident may cause a simple snap of the head. Additionally, if the brain moves within the skull, it can result in a second concussion and SIS. 


Symptoms of Second Impact Syndrome

Second Impact Syndrome

The auto injury does not need to cause a loss of consciousness. A person looking stunned may indicate SIS. In addition, they may appear to be functioning normally, then suddenly collapse within minutes of impact.

The person’s condition quickly worsens. Also, they will experience loss of consciousness, loss of eye movement, pupils that dilate, one eye dilates more than the other, and respiratory failure.

SIS may happen days or weeks following the initial injury. The critical factor is if they have not had a full recovery from the initial concussion before suffering another injury.


Preventing Second Impact Syndrome

The patient needs to avoid any activities that may result in a second head injury. Therefore, someone who has suffered a head injury should not participate in activities, like sports following a traumatic brain injury.

If work duties put the person at risk of falls or hitting their head, they may need to discuss getting a work restriction order with the doctor.

If the person is experiencing any signs of nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, or disorientation, they need an immediate medical evaluation. This includes feeling they are “in a fog” or are functioning at a slower than normal pace.


Treating Second Impact Syndrome

common car accident injuries

If there is any suspicion a person is suffering from a severe brain injury, or if you know they recently had a traumatic brain injury and incurred another impact, they need to go immediately to the closest emergency center.

The emergency facility needs to perform a CT scan of the head. The CT scan will evaluate the brain for bleeding and swelling.

The hospital needs an account of the injury and the person’s medical history, including prior injury. This is important for the hospital to monitor their condition properly.


How Prevalent Is Second Impact Syndrome?

Second impact syndrome is rare, and most cases happen in young athletes. If anyone suffers a concussion from a car accident, they should immediately be seen by a doctor. Additionally, injured individuals shouldn’t return to any physical activity until all initial injury symptoms are gone. Any subsequent impact to the brain inside the skull can result in death from SIS.

Signs of a Concussion

Even if a person does not obtain medical treatment following an injury, the signs they may have a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disorientation
  • Ears ringing
  • Fatigue
  • Feel like they are in a fog
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea
  • Personality changes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting

If a person shows any indication of a concussion, they need to refrain from activities that may result in a second injury.


California Second Impact Syndrome Laws

car accident lawyer

California’s personal injury law allows you to receive compensation for your injury, even if you are partially at fault in the auto accident. California is a comparative negligence state. This means your settlement will be reduced by the percentage the court determines you to be at fault.

The best way to negotiate a fair settlement that ensures your rights to financial compensation are met is to hire a traffic lawyer with experience in personal injury. They will be knowledgeable in negotiations, traffic law, and personal injury law to obtain the highest settlement possible.

If you have any questions about car accident law or your ability to file a lawsuit after you or a loved one suffers injuries in a car accident, contact a California lawyer knowledgeable about car accident injuries.

California has a two (2) year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a car accident. If more than two years pass, you will no longer be able to file for compensation.


Second Impact Syndrome Legal Action

If you or a family member are suffering from car accident injuries or death due to second impact syndrome, contact the car accident law firm of Daniel Kim. We have over 40 awards and honors recognizing our long-term success in car accident personal injury litigation.

We handle all cases on a contingency fee, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.