Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States. Unfortunately, many people are so shaken after a crash that they may not realize they have suffered head trauma, allowing the condition to worsen in the hours after the accident. Our attorneys explore the common causes of these injuries and why they are likely to happen after a crash, giving victims the information they need to prevent further injury.
Brain Injuries That May Occur as a Result of a Crash
The most common form of traumatic brain injury in a car accident is a concussion. Although many concussions heal without permanent damage, they can be more hazardous to children and victims who have suffered from concussions in the past. In most cases, concussions will resolve on their own with rest, but it is always a good idea to see a doctor even in mild cases.
Car accidents are especially likely to result in:
- Contusions. Contusions, or bruises on the brain, often result from the brain colliding with the front or back of the skull in a crash. The initial impact throws the head forward and then backward, potentially causing multiple contusions as well as whiplash injuries. A contusion is a form of closed head injury, and can result in dangerous brain swelling if left untreated.
- Diffuse axonal injury. The rapid deceleration from a car accident can cause the brain to move quickly inside the skull, shearing or tearing brain matter. A diffuse axonal injury damages the nerve cells of the brain, and is overwhelmingly likely to result in coma or a persistent vegetative state.
- Skull fractures. A collision may cause a driver to strike his or her head on the steering wheel, while a passenger’s head may strike the dashboard. A direct impact to the head can result in a skull fracture, causing lacerations to the brain as pieces of bone penetrate into the tissue. Fractures may require surgery to repair and place victims at risk of complications such as brain swelling, hematoma, and infection.
- Hematoma. A hematoma is a collection of blood that forms when a blood vessel ruptures. A person who has suffered a hematoma inside the skull may appear normal after a head injury, only to become confused or unconscious several hours or even days later as the pressure from the bleed impacts the brain. If pressure inside the skull is not relieved quickly, a hematoma can lead to coma or death.
Always Seek Medical Treatment After Hitting Your Head in a Crash
After an accident, many people simply want to return home and put the incident behind them. Any confusion, irritability, or dizziness they are experiencing may simply be the shock of the crash—or it could be the initial symptoms of a brain injury.
Even if you don’t think you are hurt, it is vital that you see a doctor after an accident in order to:
- Protect your health. Unlike cuts and bruises, many brain injuries are not readily apparent after a crash. By the time a victim begins to suffer headaches, drowsiness, or cognitive problems, the injury could have progressed to the point where lifesaving treatment is required.
- Build medical evidence. Some of the best evidence in your case is the medical treatment you received immediately following the injury. Seeking emergency care after a crash not only shows that you are a responsible person, it also creates a record of your physical condition and doctors’ opinions on your injuries right after they occurred.
- Know what to expect. Once a doctor has diagnosed your brain injury, he or she can prepare you for the road ahead. You can discuss your treatment options, be prepared for increased medical expenses and lost income, and make plans for your recovery.
If someone in your family has suffered a severe head injury, our attorneys can listen to the details of your case and discover who may be liable—and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.