Car accidents happen across the U.S. every day. While most of them are minor collisions, some have devastating results that can change your life forever. In fact, in Louisiana alone, there are more than 1,300 car accidents that result in serious injuries every year. Severe injuries can lead to long hospital stays, costly medical bills, and permanent damage to your body. A car accident brain injury falls into this category as it can result in long-term issues.
Perhaps you're facing months of rehabilitation or your injuries are so severe that you’re unable to return to work. You may be entitled to compensation that will help you overcome these challenges. A brain injury accident lawyer on our team can discuss your options and answer any questions you may have. If you're in Louisiana or Texas, contact us to schedule a free consultation or read on in this post to learn more.
What causes a car accident brain injury?
A TBI is generally caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Some are mild, meaning there is only a brief change in mental status or consciousness. Alternatively, a severe TBI can result in a permanent or extended period of memory loss or unconsciousness.
According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are among the most common causes of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths related to traumatic brain injury among people aged 15 to 34.
Whether you experience a TBI in a car accident often depends on several factors, as a recent study from the University of Arizona discovered. This includes the direction in which you were hit, speed of the vehicles involved, and whether you were wearing a seatbelt.
Types of car accident brain injuries
There are several different types of car accident brain injuries. Some of the more common include:
- Concussion: Often referred to as the most common type of TBI, a concussion can take months to completely heal. It can be caused by a direct blow or violent shaking that results in the stretching of the brain’s blood vessels.
- Contusion: A contusion is generally the result of direct impact to the head that causes bleeding on the brain. Large contusions may require surgical removal.
- Coup-Contrecoup: This injury leads to bleeding at the site of the blow, as well as the opposite side of the brain. This happens when the impact causes the brain to move and slam into the opposite side of the skull.
- Diffuse Axonal: When the unmoving brain lags behind the movement of the skull, nerve tissues throughout the brain can tear. A diffuse axonal injury can disrupt brain activity, leading to permanent brain damage, coma, or even death.
- Penetration Injury: If pieces of metal or debris penetrate the head, it can force these objects or even parts of the skull into the brain. This ruptures and stretches brain tissue.
Symptoms of car accident brain injuries
Beyond type, car accident brain injuries also range in severity. It’s important to know symptoms for each to know if you're dealing with a mild or more severe injury.
A mild traumatic brain injury may result in loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes. However, it’s possible to remain conscious while feeling confused or disoriented. In the hours or days following the accident, other symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Speech problems
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Mood swings
- Concentration problems
- Depression or anxiety
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can include the signs and symptoms noted above, along with other issues. Loss of consciousness may take place for several minutes to hours. The following symptoms will usually be present within the first few hours or days:
- Convulsions or seizures
- Persistent or worsening headaches
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Dilation of one or both pupils
- Loss of coordination
- Numbness in fingers and toes
- Inability to wake up from sleep
- Combativeness or confusion
- Unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
What happens after a brain injury?
If you were recently in a car accident and believe you may have a brain injury, it’s important to seek medical care immediately.
While each situation is different, the following is the typical flow of events after a car accident brain injury. However, it’s important to note, you may not feel the effects of a brain injury from a motorcycle accident or car accident right away. Every case is unique. Even if you don't think you need it, get medical attention right away just to make sure.
Emergency care after any type of car or motorcycle accident is critical.
In some cases, an injury may be fatal if left untreated. This is why it’s essential to see a doctor for a thorough check-up. Even if you feel normal, the impact of a serious car crash can be dangerous. Visit your doctor for a professional opinion.
When you go to obtain emergency care or any type of check-up after a car accident, you will most likely undergo various medical tests. This may include a computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and X-rays.
Intracranial pressure monitors are also used in some cases. Tissue swelling from a TBI can increase pressure inside the skull, which causes even more damage to the brain. By inserting a probe into the skull, doctors can monitor the level of pressure a patient is experiencing.
These tests allow your medical team to determine whether you have sustained a traumatic brain injury or brain swelling after a car accident. A solid diagnosis is the first step toward treatment.
Once your medical team determines whether you’ve sustained a traumatic brain injury, you will move forward with a treatment plan.
In mild cases, rest and over-the-counter pain medication should be enough. Your doctor may recommend continuous monitoring for worsening symptoms, both physical and cognitive.
For moderate to severe cases, your emergency medical team may turn to diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in the brain. Anti-seizure or coma-inducing drugs may be necessary in very serious situations.
Emergency surgery is also a possibility, depending on the injury. Doctors must operate in cases involving skull fractures, bleeding on the brain, and extremely swollen brain tissue.
Most significant brain injuries require extensive rehabilitation. While this typically begins in the hospital, you will most likely need further care through an inpatient facility. After more serious injuries, you may even need to relearn how to walk, talk, and perform simple daily activities.
In other cases, you will have the option of pursuing ongoing outpatient care. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist, speech pathologist, or even a neuropsychologist.
The type of rehabilitation you undergo, as well as the duration will depend on your specific injury and overall condition.
How can a brain injury accident lawyer help?
All of this information in this post is just a high-level overview of what can happen after a brain injury from a car accident. Such an injury is often life altering and they're among the most costly injuries to heal.
As you navigate through life after this type of accident, costs may add up quickly. You may not be able to work as much as you used to, if at all. Continued care through therapy and rehabilitation may be necessary for an indefinite amount of time.
At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, we understand the serious nature of this type of injury. We’re dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve so you can heal. Our team is here to support you each step of the way. Our goal is for you to focus on your recovery, not how you’ll pay the ongoing bills.
If you’re suffering from a car accident brain injury and want to learn if legal representation is right for you, contact us today for a free consultation. We can help you learn more about your options moving forward.