Epilepsy is a tendency to have seizures that start in the brain. Epilepsy is usually only diagnosed after a person has had more than one seizure. Not all seizures are due to epilepsy. Other conditions that can appear like Epilepsy includes fainting, or very low blood sugar in some people being treated for diabetes. Anyone can develop epilepsy, at any time of life. There are over half a million people with epilepsy in the UK, so around 1 in 100 people suffer from it.
Causes of Epilepsy
There are many different causes both traumatic and genetic. Epilepsy can be caused by trauma to the brain resulting in structural changes or following illness such as a stroke or meningitis.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy
Traumatic head injuries can also result in people being at an increased risk of developing epilepsy. The increased risk of epilepsy can be a life time risk if someone has sustained a significant brain injury.
There have been many studies taking an in-depth look at the links between head injury and epilepsy. For example, the study published by The New England Journal of Medicine which can be found here.
It is important when settling a claim for compensation involving a head injury that your solicitor advises you about seeking a provisional damages award rather than settling your case for a full and final one off settlement.
Provisional damages settlements mean that if you do not have an epileptic seizure after suffering head trauma but go on to develop epilepsy within your lifetime you are able to reopen your case and claim any additional sums that you may be entitled to such as further compensation for pain suffering and loss of amenity, further treatment costs, loss of earnings etc.
If your compensation claim is settled on a full and final basis by acceptance of a lump sum and you go on to develop epilepsy afterwards you will not be able to claim any further damages in the future even if your condition deteriorates.
Here at Spencers, the Serious Injury Team have dealt with many cases involving Epilepsy as a result of head injuries and some examples of these can be found here.
Importance of reporting Epilepsy to the DVLA
Of course, the importance of reporting epilepsy to the DVLA can’t be emphasised enough as highlighted by the tragic case involving Harry Clarke, who was the driver of a bin lorry which ploughed through Christmas shoppers in central Glasgow, killing six people. Mr Clarke allegedly lost consciousness behind the wheel despite allegedly having experienced previous seizures which hadn’t been disclosed to the DVLA.
Whilst much is still not understood about epilepsy and its causes, it is heartening that medical research has progressed so significantly that many epilepsy survivors are now living fairly normal lives despite the serious nature of the condition.
For more information, please visit Epilespy Society - Head Injuries and Epilepsy.
About the author
Emma Melia is a Solicitor and lead litigator within Spencers Solicitors' catastrophic injury team. Emma has over 17 years' experience helping people who have suffered life changing injuries.
Emma's last blog was Are you skiing on thin ice? How ensure you are protecting yourself on the slopes.