Can a Car Accident Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Car accidents can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and in fact, they are a leading cause of them in the United States. The physics of a crash offers the perfect conditions for TBIs. The early symptoms can be subtle or even invisible, but the long-term consequences are very serious. Therefore, it is important to know what to look for after an accident.

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Car accidents are a leading cause of TBI

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, auto accidents are a leading cause of brain injury-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

In 2014, more than 13% of the 2.5 million TBI-related emergency room visits were caused by car accidents. It is the third most common cause, coming in behind unintentional falls and being unintentionally struck by or against an object.

TBIs from car accidents range in type and severity. In any case, if you suffer one, seek medical care as early as possible to lessen the effects and improve outcomes.

Types of TBI

Although open-head injuries, caused by penetration into the skull, can cause traumatic brain injuries, closed-head TBIs are far more common in car accidents. Closed head injuries occur when the head strikes, or is struck by, some object and does not penetrate the skull.

The symptoms of a brain injury vary by type and severity. These are some of the TBIs that may occur in a crash.

  • Concussion – A concussion is generally a relatively mild TBI that can have a serious long-term impact. It can occur when a jolt causes the brain to bounce in the skull, causing a temporary change or loss in function. There may be no symptoms, or it can be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, confusion, or impaired vision, balance, memory, or speech.
  • Contusion – A concussion can be accompanied by a bruise under the skull. Known as a contusion, it may heal on its own or may require surgery.
  • Hematoma – A hematoma is a blood clot that forms when a blood vessel ruptures. Hematomas can be dangerous if they put pressure on certain parts of the brain, and if large, they may require surgical removal.
  • Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (TSAH) – TSAH is bleeding in the space between the skull and brain. This space is supposed to be filled with protective cerebrospinal fluid, but bleeding from torn arteries causes swelling and cell death.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) – When the brain undergoes a severe back-and-forth motion, it can tear the nerve axons that connect brain cells. Too many tears can be fatal, but even a non-fatal DAI can cause varying degrees of brain impairment.
  • Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury – Typically, more severe and immediately apparent, this type of injury occurs when an impact causes the brain to hit the skull on the opposite side of the impact. Damage occurs on both sides of the brain and can cause long-lasting effects.

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What to look for after an accident

Since not all symptoms of TBI are apparent just after an accident, it is important to be on the lookout for signs. Symptoms include:

  • Headache or feeling of pressure
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Impaired coordination and balance

If you experience signs of a concussion, see a doctor as soon as possible, even if it does not seem like an emergency.

The long-term impact of a brain injury

Some TBIs, like mild concussions, may resolve completely and relatively quickly. Others may cause permanent life-altering injuries. Possible serious long-term effects include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Paralysis
  • Memory loss, including an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cognitive impairment

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to know right away whether a TBI will lead to an ongoing impairment. Research shows that those who suffer a brain injury have the greatest outcomes if they seek early treatment and follow all instructions for follow-up evaluations.

Choose an experienced attorney

A traumatic brain injury is just one of the unexpected and life-altering potential effects of a car crash. If you have been involved in an accident, enlist the help of a seasoned lawyer to guide you through the aftermath. At Douglas & London, our team takes a personalized approach while we fight for maximum compensation. Call today to schedule a free consultation with our New York City car accident lawyers.