Driving With A Concussion

You could have a concussion if you suffered a blow to the head in an accident recently. A common question is whether one can drive with a concussion. Below is more about driving with a concussion and related information. If you have questions, our personal injury attorneys at Cloward Trial Lawyers can help you. You might be entitled to compensation if you got a concussion in an accident that was no fault of your own.

Concussion Overview

A concussion is a kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the head is struck or jolted suddenly, most often in athletic events, assaults, falls, and auto accidents. While some concussions may be considered mild because they aren’t usually life-threatening, it is a serious condition that can cause life-long consequences if not correctly diagnosed and treated.

Concussion Symptoms

Most concussions do not knock you out, so you shouldn’t assume you don’t have one because you remained conscious. If you suffered a blow to the head or were jolted back and forth, which made your head rock, you should be evaluated by a doctor for a concussion.

The most common concussion symptoms are:

  • Physical: You may have blurred vision, migraines, headaches, ringing ears, and sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises.
  • Memory: Concussion victims can have difficulty with recent memories and be confused. For example, hitting your head on the ground may make you forget how you got home after the incident.
  • Emotional and mood: If you are suddenly sad, irritable, or nervous after hitting your head, it could be a sign of a concussion.
  • Sleep: Major, sudden changes in sleep patterns, either not sleeping or sleeping too much.

Concussion symptoms can last for days, weeks, and sometimes longer. Older adults, children, and teenagers often take the longest to recover from a concussion. If you have had a concussion before, another one can require a longer recovery.

Most concussions resolve on their own with enough time. However, in rare situations, you could have a blood clot next to the concussion area. This is a dangerous condition that requires emergency care. You should go to the ER immediately if you have these symptoms:

  • A headache that doesn’t go away or worsens
  • Feeling weak or having difficulty coordinating your movements
  • Repeated nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Unable to recognize loved ones and friends
  • Confusion and agitation

Further, if you have lost consciousness, have seizures, or have dilating pupils for no reason, it’s a medical emergency, so call 911.

Grades Of Concussions

A tricky part of concussions is you may not be sure you had one, especially if it was a mild concussion. So, it is best to be checked by a doctor if you hit your head or were shaken in an accident. The grades of concussion are as follows:

Low Grade – Mild

You may have a headache, memory loss, nausea, and dizziness. Most people with mild concussions can return to regular activities after a few days when symptoms fade. This grade of concussion does not usually result in a loss of consciousness.

Mid Grade – Moderate

A moderate concussion is like a mild one, but you probably will lose consciousness. The loss of consciousness usually lasts for at least one minute but less than five. You also can experience ringing in your ears, irritability, and amnesia. You should have many days of rest before returning to regular daily activities.

High Grade – Severe

A severe concussion means you lost consciousness for more than five minutes. The symptoms can linger for weeks or months. You may have permanent brain damage with a severe concussion.

You also may have severe amnesia, difficulty speaking, vomiting, and seeing stars. You need your doctor’s close supervision to recover from a severe concussion.

Can You Drive After A Concussion?

Most doctors say you should not drive for at least 24-48 hours after a suspected concussion. However, this general rule does not apply to everyone. If it’s been more than 48 hours since your concussion, you still should not drive if:

  • You have difficulty turning your head left or right.
  • Your eyes are extremely sensitive to bright lights.
  • Your symptoms get worse, or they are triggered when you drive.

You should not drive until your doctor says you are safe to do so. Remember, you are at a higher risk of a car accident if you have concussion symptoms. Hitting your head during a concussion recovery is even more dangerous. An auto accident could turn a ‘mild’ concussion into a severe brain injury. Also, you could be legally liable if you get in an accident and hurt someone after your doctor says you shouldn’t drive.

The bottom line of driving with a concussion is to never do so within 24-48 hours or any time you experience common concussion symptoms.

When Can You Drive Again After A Concussion?

If you need to drive for work and live daily life, you probably need to know when you can drive again after a concussion. If you don’t have concussion symptoms after two days, you probably can drive again, but check with your doctor.

When your doctor gives the green light to drive, only take short distances at first in areas you know with minimal traffic and low-speed limits. Bring a friend with you who can assume the wheel if you have problems with driving.

What Should You Do If You Can’t Drive After A Concussion?

It can be difficult to make it in America if you cannot drive, but it has gotten easier in recent years. With the advent of ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, it has never been easier to get a ride to where you need to go, even in small communities.

You can also have many goods delivered to your doorstep, including groceries. Also, have a loved one or friend drive you to your appointments, work, school, etc.

Should You Wait To Drive After Your Concussion?

Yes. Before driving, you should wait at least 24-48 hours after your concussion symptoms disappear. Also, getting clearance from your doctor before driving again is highly recommended.

Having a concussion can affect your ability to drive, walk, run, think, work, study, and so much more. After a concussion, you should give your body several days to heal before even thinking about driving. If you have symptoms, have someone else drive you where you need to go. The first place you should go is a follow-up appointment with your doctor to discuss your concussion symptoms.

Common Concussion Myths

Now that you know you should not drive within at least 24-48 hours of most concussions, we’ll review some of the most common concussion myths seen online:

  • A doctor can diagnose a concussion with an MRI or CT scan: Not true. A concussion can only be diagnosed by checking symptoms, not with imaging tests.
  • Concussions are just physical injuries: Concussions can have complicated physical, psychological, intellectual, and emotional components.
  • People only get concussions in football: Sports-related concussions are common, but concussions also frequently happen in car accidents and falls.
  • You don’t have a concussion if you don’t black out: People with mild concussions usually don’t black out. It is estimated that 95% of concussions don’t cause a loss of consciousness.
  • Concussions only happen from blows to the head: Most stem from blows to the head, but you also can get a concussion by your head whipping back and forth in an auto accident or shaking incident.
  • A good helmet can prevent a concussion: In reality, no helmet exists to ensure you won’t get a concussion.
  • You should get complete rest after a concussion: Getting rest is important, but this doesn’t mean you should do nothing for weeks. You should have reduced physical and sensory stimuli after a concussion for a few days, but it helps recovery to become more mentally and physically active after a while.
  • You can’t sleep for more than two hours if you have a concussion: People can have a variety of altered sleep patterns after a concussion. If you hit your head and are having sudden sleeping issues, get medical attention immediately.
  • You can return to the game if you don’t have concussion symptoms: You should not participate in sports for at least a few days if you took a blow to the head. You might feel ok after the incident, but a doctor should check you before playing again.
  • Everyone has the same symptoms after a concussion: Everyone is different, and you may experience a concussion differently than other people. For example, some people may briefly lose consciousness after a mild concussion, but you might not. Just because you didn’t black out doesn’t mean you don’t have a concussion. Always have yourself checked by a doctor after head trauma to check for a concussion.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Now

If you have a concussion from an accident caused by someone’s negligence, use caution when driving. Your body needs time to heal and recover. Talk to our personal injury attorneys at Cloward Trial Lawyers today for a complimentary consultation about your concussion case.


Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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