Head Injuries After a Car Accident
You try to drive defensively. You bought a car that was fully equipped with sophisticated safety features. However, car accidents still occur. And, the sudden brunt force of an accident can cause significant injuries—especially to the head and cervical spine.
Moreover, head trauma is often more complicated than other injuries resulting from car accidents. After all, the brain is responsible for everything the body does. For some, recovery from a traumatic brain injury can last for years beyond the initial accident.
IMPORTANT: If you were involved in a car accident and suffered a blow to the head, seek medical attention right away. It’s impossible to accurately diagnose a head injury based on initial symptoms and how hard you hit your head. Requesting treatment immediately may save your life and prevent the long-term effects of a head injury.
Of course, once you start undergoing treatment for a major head injury, new struggles tend to surface. You may be out of work, dealing with major medical bills, and struggling to put food on the table.
It can be a very scary time indeed.
For example, how can you possibly deal with a significant injury while you still have so many other responsibilities? Recovery is an inherently difficult process. Securing compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and monthly bills, however, may be easier than you think.
But, more on that later…
First, let’s take a closer look at how car crashes affect the brain and what it’s like to suffer a traumatic brain injury.
Every Car Accident Involves Three Collisions
Three collisions? Yes, you read it correctly. Even simple rear-end accidents include three collisions.
It’s all about kinetic energy. This is the energy of any given object while moving. If the energy is not absorbed properly (such as applying the brakes and gradually slowing down), the object (i.e. the body) continues to move until an outside force stops it. In the case of a car accident, the forceful stop leads to a damaged car and often physical injuries.
To review, when you are involved in a car accident, three collisions occur:
- Your car: As your vehicle collides with another car or object, it can cause significant damage to the car’s body and frame. Luckily, many cars have safety features to help absorb most of the necessary kinetic energy during a crash. While your car may suffer major damage, it ultimately protects you.
- Your body: Even the safest cars can’t absorb all the kinetic energy of a crash. During a car accident, your body continues to move until something stops it. For many, seat belts absorb the impact. Those not using seatbelts, however, may slam into the steering wheel, windshield, or dashboard.
- Your internal organs: Once a seatbelt stops your body from moving, your internal organs remain in motion until something causes them to stop. In the case of head injuries, your brain may collide against your skull as your body comes to a complete halt. This may lead to a traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury Definition
When the head suffers a jolt, bump, or blow, it may disrupt the normal function of the brain. This is considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These are serious injuries. In fact, TBIs are a major cause of death and disability in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 5 traumatic brain injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents.
Traumatic brain injury symptoms depend on the type of injury. Some may be mild, whereas others may be long-term and debilitating.
Common Brain Injuries Associated with a Car Crash
Here are five types of head injuries you may suffer during a car crash. Remember, if you suspect any type of head injury, please obtain medical assistance right away.
The impact and sudden momentum change of a car accident may cause a concussion. During the collision, damage can occur to the cranial nerves and blood vessels. Concussions are serious injuries that can take months or even years to fully heal. If you suffer a concussion, you may lose consciousness or just experience a dazed feeling. Other symptoms of a concussion include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feeling of pressure in the head
- Slurred speech
- Confusion or trouble concentrating
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in personality
Contusion is another word for bruising. In the case of head injuries, this means bruising on the brain. Blood on the brain after a car accident may require surgical intervention if the bleeding doesn’t stop on its own. The severity of a contusion depends on the size and location of the bleed, how long it lasts, and if surgical intervention is necessary. Symptoms of a brain contusion include:
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, and even forming sentences
- Numbness or tingling near the affected area of the brain
- Trouble with balance or coordination
- Slurred speech
Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury
Serious car accidents, usually involving a high rate of speed, could lead to a coup-contrecoup brain injury. This occurs when a major collision causes the brain essentially to bounce off of one side of the skull and hit the opposite side of it. The result: contusions on both sides of the brain. Since multiple areas of the brain are traumatized, these are often very serious TBIs. Symptoms include:
- Bleeding or swelling on the brain
- Loss of consciousness
- Skull fracture
- Confusion, fatigue, or dizziness
- Severe headaches
- Ringing in the ears
- Mood and memory disturbances
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury
Violent shaking or rotation of the head during a car accident may cause diffuse axonal injury. When the brain lags behind the movement of the skull, it can cause brain structures to tear. Some of these tears may be microscopic, while others are quite serious. This brain disturbance can cause widespread brain damage. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe headaches
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Swelling in the brain
Penetration Brain Injury
As your car comes to a complete halt, anything insecurely attached to the car can transform into dangerous projectiles. These projectiles may force skin, hair, or bones into the brain. The objects themselves may lodge into your brain. Any time a foreign object comes in contact with the brain, it is a very serious injury. Symptoms include:
- Major bleeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of sensation or movement in the limbs
- Loss of other bodily functions
- Loss of consciousness and coma
As you can see, many of these traumatic brain injuries share some similar symptoms. A comprehensive medical evaluation and, oftentimes, emergency medical care is required to see the extent of your head injury and determine the best treatments. If you suffer a head injury, chances are you may not be thinking clearly and rationally. Don’t try to “tough it out” and think even minor head injury symptoms will heal on their own.
The Aftermath of a Head Injury
Major traumas to the brain take time, rehabilitation, and expert medical care. For many, the fastest improvements occur during the first six months after an injury. Improvements may also gradually appear up to two years after an injury. After two years, progress isn’t out of the question, but it may only show up sporadically.
Of course, even if you make a full recovery after six months, chances are you’ve dealt with some major obstacles. Financially, the medical bills may be overwhelming. The pain and suffering have had you facing some very bleak days. And, let’s not forget your family. The whole family dynamic probably shifted while you were out of work recovering from your injuries.
If the car accident leading to your head injury wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to significant compensation. This includes money for your mounting bills, pain and suffering, and loss of wages or earning potential. Of course, the complicated process of filing an insurance claim is the last thing you want to deal with as you recover from your injuries.
The Ward Law Group is a dedicated team of lawyers who help both English- and Spanish-speaking individuals in their time of need following a car accident. Our lawyers have an intimate understanding of how the insurance claims process can actually work for you. We allow you to focus on recovering from your injuries and make sure that you get every penny you deserve for your head injury.
Call us today at 855-DOLOR-55 so that we can help you secure a successful claim!