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Brain Injuries In Car Accidents

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The brain is the focus point of human thought and emotion as well as the control center for our bodily functions. Despite its natural protection from a bony outer skull and cushioning layer of fluid, delicate brain tissue remains vulnerable to injury from a strong blow, impact, or penetrating head injury. Car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States, leaving thousands of Americans with significant impairment.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

The brain contains neurons and axons that control all of our body systems and senses. When an injury causes bleeding, bruising, and inflammation in the brain, the pressure and toxins released result in cell death to thousands of critical cells in the injured portion of the brain with impacts on the individual’s normal brain function that vary in severity depending on the location and amount of the damage.

The brain can suffer injuries from medical conditions like a stroke or heart attack, but when the injury results from an outside force like a car accident, it’s a traumatic brain injury, sometimes leaving the accident victim with serious, potentially life-long consequences. These economic and non-economic consequences are known as “damages” in a car accident claim for compensation.

How Do Brain Injuries Occur in Car Accidents?

Seatbelts prevent many types of injuries and increase a car accident victim’s chances of survival by preventing the person from becoming a projectile or being ejected from the vehicle during a crash. However, a seatbelt cannot prevent all types of injuries. In a car accident, the motorist experiences tremendous crash force. To understand the impact of crash force on the human body, consider that a 100-pound person becomes a 3,000-pound force during an accident at only 30 miles per hour. That’s 3,000 pounds of pressure thrown forward against the seatbelt and then snapped back against the seat. Even presuming the head isn’t injured from structural damage to the vehicle, the force of the brain against the inside of the skull from the crash can cause serious injury.

Common Types of Brain Injuries From Car Accidents

Brain injuries range from mild concussions which are fully recoverable, to severe injuries causing life-long impairment or death. Common types of brain injuries experienced in car accidents include the following:

  • Concussion
  • Hematoma
  • Bleeding/bruising
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Coup-contrecoup injury
  • Diffuse axonal injury
  • Skull fracture
  • Penetrating head wound

Diffuse axonal injuries cause damage in a wide portion of the brain, resulting in severe impairment. A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when one side of the brain suffers injury from impact with the interior of the skull, and then the opposite side suffers an injury from bouncing back against the opposite side of the skull.

Signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury

The most severe traumatic brain injury causes loss of consciousness and coma at the scene of the accident, but less severe injuries may cause subtle warning signs with impacts that worsen without immediate medical intervention as swelling and bleeding in the brain cause further damage. Signs of a traumatic brain injury include headache, dizziness, nausea, balance and coordination problems, vision problems, ringing in the ears, and problems with memory and concentration.

Understanding the Long-Term Impacts of a Traumatic Brain Injury

When a brain injury victim receives immediate medical treatment to address the consequences of swelling, bleeding, and pressure on the brain it helps to minimize the trauma to the brain tissue and limit the damage. However, any damage to the brain can cause noticeable changes in the individual’s speech, memory, cognitive ability, mood, and personality. Rehabilitative therapy improves the long-term outcome but those with severe injuries may not be able to return to work at their previous capacity or at all. Many brain injury victims achieve independence, but others require assistance with daily tasks and long-term care.

Can A Brain Injury Attorney Help?

No one can erase a brain injury, but an experienced San Diego car accident attorney can help a brain injury victim recover financial compensation to open doors to the best possible medical care and relieve financial hardship so the injured individual can focus on maximizing their recovery. If someone else caused your brain injury or an injury to your loved one, call a brain injury lawyer who can help you recover compensation and a sense of justice.