Of the numerous types of injuries that can occur during a vehicle accident, one of the most serious and concerning types is the traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is particularly true when it involves a TBI that is not readily apparent at the time of the accident. Studies have shown that some 20% of all traumatic brain injuries are due to vehicle accidents and this affects some 280,000 victims every year. TBI is also the #1 cause of hospitalizations for brain injuries.
Science tells us that the human brain normally floats within the skull, surrounded by a layer of fluid. When an auto accident occurs, and everything goes from traveling fast to a dead stop – or when a car rolls over or is violently shaken, the brain doesn’t just sit still. Quite the contrary, it will bounce back and forth against the inside walls of the skull, and can continue doing so after the collision is over and the vehicle has stopped. Even if the skull doesn’t actually strike anything, this violent shaking and movement can cause bruising, tearing and other damage to the brain. The effect is worse if the head actually strikes something such as the steering wheel, the dashboard or the windshield and is at its absolute worst if the skull is fractured or punctured by some object during the collision.
Most Common Brain Injuries Caused by Vehicle Accidents
There are a number of different types of traumatic brain injuries which can result from vehicle accidents. Some of the more common ones include:
Concussion: This is one of the more familiar types of brain injuries and is caused when there’s direct impact or violent and sudden movement / momentum change. Concussions may or may not result in loss of consciousness, and includes other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, disorientation and mild amnesia. These symptoms are normally not permanent and usually resolve within a few days to a few weeks.
Contusion: Generally more serious than a concussion, a contusion is actually a bruising of the brain. If severe enough, this can result in the brain swelling which causes a rise in intracranial pressure, affecting circulation in the brain and severe pain. Milder cases can be treated with medication, but if not, it may be necessary to actually drill a hole in the skull to drain fluid and relieve pressure.
Diffuse Axonal Injury: Severe whiplash can result in a brain injury known as Diffuse Axonal, which is when the violent twisting and shaking of the head or neck which causes stretching and damage to the long nerve fibers that help the brain communicate with the rest of the body. The twisting, stress and rapid deceleration occurring in a vehicle accident sends stress and pressure waves at high speeds through the body, stretching the nerve fibers and damaging the nerve cells. (This same condition is often seen in war veterans wounded by explosions.)
Penetration: The type of brain injury with the most serious potential is the penetration injury, which is exactly like it sounds – a foreign object has penetrated the skull and gone into the brain. This can often result in death or serious permanent brain damage.
Symptoms of Brain Injury To Be Aware Of
All too often, people injured in vehicle accidents are not aware that they may have a serious brain injury and do not seek prompt evaluation and treatment. It’s also not uncommon for the symptoms to not show up immediately, but only appear hours or even a few days after the accident. For the more severe brain injuries, delay in treatment could be fatal. It is therefore crucial that people be aware of the symptoms of brain injury and seek evaluation and treatment immediately if any of these appear – even if the symptoms are mild. Those symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Dilated Pupils
- Difficulty focusing or thinking
- Amnesia or forgetfulness
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Balance and coordination problems
- Recurring blackouts
- Slowed response times
- Numbness in arms and legs
Speak To A Car Accident Lawyer Today
Motor vehicle accidents are stressful and emotionally traumatic, even if you’re not physically injured, but much, much more devastating if there is serious brain injury. For over 65 years, the personal injury lawyers at Lattof & Lattof, PC have been helping victims and families protect their rights and obtain fair compensation for abuse, suffering and injuries from motor vehicle accidents caused by the wrongful and negligent act of others. We will work hard to obtain justice for you and to help free you from the worry and stress of making claims, gathering records and dealing with insurance companies. Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your case and advise you of your rights.