Suffering a brain injury is more common than most people think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are the leading injuries from car accidents, and contributed to 60,611 deaths in 2019.
Car accidents often lead to sudden shifting of the brain inside the skull. Unlike other body parts that remain strapped to the seat during a car crash, the neck and head can move freely.
Besides closed head injuries, car accidents can also cause open head injuries when objects like debris from the collision penetrate the skull and damage the brain. These wounds will completely change the victim’s life, affecting their ability to work and enjoy life as they did before the accident.
Despite these devastating consequences of brain injury from a car accident, it is often difficult for the victims to recognize the signs of brain damage immediately after the crash. It is essential to seek medical attention after a collision to ensure the impact hasn’t caused serious damage.
We’ve covered what you need to know about car accidents, traumatic brain injuries, and how you can get compensation for head injuries due to someone else’s negligence.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury or TBI refers to a head trauma caused by a sudden bump, blow, or jolt. Depending on the force of impact, it can cause a temporary disruption of normal brain functioning or permanent brain issues. These include loss of consciousness, memory loss, and physical impairments. The primary injury is the initial event leading to a head injury, such as a car accident.
The primary injury usually damages a specific part of the brain, causes a skull fracture, or injures the entire brain. The injury may force the brain to shake violently within the skull, causing bleeding, bruising, or tearing nerve cells. The secondary injury occurs following the primary injury and limits the proper flow of blood into the brain. This causes further damage to the brain.
Common Causes of TBIs and Head Injuries in Car Accidents
The primary cause of car accident brain damage is a sudden skull blow. Car accident victims can easily collide with the steering wheel or dashboard, leading to the brain tissues colliding with the skull. The crash may also cause objects to fly inside the vehicle hitting the head at different angles.
Also, studies show that whiplash, a neck sprain that tears critical nerve fibers, causes brain injury in about 20% of car accident cases. Traumatic nerve cell tears on the neck and back are also associated with traumatic injuries in the brain tissue. All these cases can lead to permanent or temporary damage to the brain.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries and Other Car Accident Head Injuries
TBI is the umbrella term for head injury from a car accident. Typically, there are three different categories of head injuries:
- Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or concussion: Mild TBI refers to minor brain trauma that causes temporary memory loss, headache, and concentration issues. The injuries usually heal within a month after an accident.
- Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and post-concussion syndrome (PCS): Moderate TBI is more serious and can lead to symptoms that last a few months to a year. Concussions that do not heal within six months are called post-concussion syndrome.
- Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): This is the most severe head trauma. It majorly leads to loss of consciousness that will last several days or weeks. Victims with severe TBI require proper treatment or else risk permanent brain damage.
Below are the most common car accident head injuries:
The concussions usually occur when the brain forcefully slams inside the skull due to sudden movement. This can lead to headaches, dizziness, temporary memory loss, or brief loss of consciousness.
Contusions (Coup & Contrecoup)
Contusions occur when there is bruising on the brain tissue due to secondary injury when the brain slams on the other side of the skull after the initial blow.
This type of TBI is where both sides of the brain are damaged in extreme violent car accident cases such as rollover collisions. The results will be swelling or bleeding inside the brain.
Penetrating Head Injury
These injuries occur when objects penetrate the skull and damage the brain tissues. It is essential to seek medical help or risk permanent brain damage or death.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
DAI occurs from damage to axons, the nerve fibers that send signals from one brain cell to another. These will lead to memory loss, loss of consciousness, and cognitive symptoms.
Symptoms of Car Accident Brain Injuries
Car accident head injury has several symptoms that range from mild to severe.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of mild TBI include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Blurred vision
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Depression or anxiety
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Ringing in the ears
- Mood changes
- Trouble concentrating
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Confusion or disorientation
- Slurred speech
Moderate to Severe Brain Injury Symptoms
Moderate to severe symptoms of head injury are:
- Profound disorientation (forgetting dates or names)
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
- Dilation of one or both eye pupils
- Loss of coordination
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of consciousness (lasting several minutes to several hours)
- Severe headache or headache that worsens over time
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Inability to awaken from sleep
Recovering From Car Accident Head Injuries
The recovery journey from a car accident or head injury is long, complicated, and expensive. These injuries require constant medical care, and your insurance may not cover the medical bills. Your family members and loved ones will struggle with lost wages and damages due to the crash.
The recovery process also varies depending on the severity of your injuries. Some people may heal after a few weeks, while other victims may require months or years to reach full recovery.
Get Help from a TBI Attorney in South Carolina
When you suffer a brain injury from a car accident, the negligent driver is legally liable to pay for the damages and injuries caused. At David Aylor Law Offices, we can help you focus on rebuilding your life following a car accident.
Car Accident TBI FAQs
Can I sue for TBI after a car accident?
Yes. Victims can sue the at-fault drivers for compensation for pain and suffering due to crash-related injuries.
Can I recover money for rehabilitation after a TBI?
Yes. Rehabilitation programs for physical, occupational and speech therapy can be compensated after suffering a TBI.