Can You Drive With a Concussion?

By Kasey Murray

Concussions are a common form of brain injury in the United States. As many as 3 million people have been diagnosed with a concussion from participating in sports or recreational activities, and with half of all concussions going unreported or undetected, that is probably a conservative estimate. Concussion symptoms can make daily living activities difficult, including driving. Can you drive with a concussion, and should you?

What Is a Concussion?

A doctor should check you out before you drive with a concussion.

A concussion is a type of brain injury that happens when a person experiences a sudden impact or jolt to the head. Common causes of concussions include impact sports, falls, and auto accidents. While concussions are usually not life-threatening, they can cause serious health issues if not diagnosed and treated properly.

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Common concussion symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Ringing ears
  • Light and sound sensitivity

Concussion victims may also have difficulty with short-term memory, experience confusion, and be irritable, sad, or nervous. Symptoms usually resolve after a few days or weeks, but some people experience them for months or years.

Can You Drive With a Concussion Safely?

Concussions affect how your brain works and can result in:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Poor judgment
  • Decreased physical coordination

Driving while experiencing concussion symptoms increases your risk of causing an accident and reduces your ability to avoid an accident caused by another driver, an animal, or an object in the road. Driving with a concussion may also increase the risk that you will be at fault for an accident.

Washington, D.C., drivers must report any medical condition that may impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, even if it is a temporary condition. Operating a vehicle without doing so could violate traffic safety laws.

When Is It Safe To Drive After a Concussion?

can you drive with a concussion

Most medical providers recommend that you not drive for at least 24-48 hours after sustaining a concussion. However, when driving will be safe for you depends on your symptoms. 

Talk to your healthcare provider before you resume driving. Your doctor may recommend you gradually return to driving. You may also have other restrictions, such as avoiding night driving if you have sensitivity to bright lights.

How May Driving With a Concussion Impact Liability in an Auto Accident?

Because a concussion can impair a person’s ability to drive, a person driving with a concussion may be more likely to be at fault for an accident than an unimpaired driver. Because D.C., Virginia, and Maryland all have contributory negligence laws, driving with a concussion could prevent you from recovering damages even if the other driver is the majority at fault. 

Accident After Driving With a Concussion? We Can Help

If you suffered an injury caused by someone driving with a concussion or a negligent driver is attempting to avoid paying for the damages from your concussion symptoms, the personal injury attorneys at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, can help.

We will work through the complex legal issues and protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. You will only pay a fee if you receive compensation.

About the Author
Washington, D.C. and Maryland injury lawyer Kasey K. Murray represents clients in a wide range of personal injury areas including car accidents, premises liability, construction accidents, medical malpractice, workers compensation claims and various appellate matters.