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How Car Accidents Could Lead to Traumatic Brain Injuries

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Posted on December 1, 2022

Car accidents in California are a leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). Nationwide, vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of TBI after falls. Sadly, TBI is the most common injury suffered in car accidents. This type of injury can be as relatively mild as a slight concussion to severely disabling or deadly. Statistics from 2018 give a fair picture of annual accidents, showing that 5,607 injuries and fatalities occurred in San Diego alone due to traffic accidents, with TBIs as a major contributing factor to these statistics. Even a mild concussion can be serious due to the delicate nature of human brain tissue. Repeated mild concussions also lead to more serious traumatic brain injuries over time.

Car Accidents and TBI

The impact when cars collide with other vehicles or stationary objects, come to a sudden halt from high speeds, or flip and roll causes head injuries ranging from whiplash injuries to direct impacts to the skull.

When the sensitive brain tissue shakes violently inside the skull, the delicate brain cells can sustain damage ranging from mild to severe. The brain may bruise and swell from impact, and in some instances, the tiny blood vessels feeding critical oxygen and nutrients to the brain may tear and break.

While even mild TBIs require treatment, hospitalization, monitoring, and time away from work,  more serious traumatic brain injuries can lead to disabilities, impairment, coma, and death. This type of injury can have impacts on a victim and their family that cause short term physical and financial harm or long-term or even life-long negative impacts.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries Commonly Caused by Car Accidents

Because the brain controls every body system, all traumatic brain injuries are serious. There are several types of TBIs associated with car accident injuries including:

  • Concussion, commonly caused from a victim’s head striking the steering wheel, dashboard, window, or windshield. Concussions range in severity from mild to severe with bruising and/or bleeding on the brain or inside the skull.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury, often caused by impacts leading to the brain bumping the inside of the skull. This may cause the tearing of nerves and damage to brain structures resulting in the disruption of the normal function of the brain. Diffuse Axonal Injuries cause impairment, disability, coma, and sometimes death.
  • Contusion, causing bruising or bleeding on the brain from direct impact. The severity of the effects range from headaches and dizziness to the need for pressure-relieving surgery and long-term after-effects.
  • Penetrating injuries, while these are more common from violent attacks and gun violence, penetrating injuries can occur in car accidents when bent and broken metal penetrates the skull on impact, sometimes damaging portions of the brain and affecting brain function in a variety of ways.

All traumatic brain injuries are cause for alarm and require immediate medical intervention for the best possible chance at recovery.

What You Should Do After a Car Accident With a Traumatic Brain Injury

If you or a loved one had a car accident with impacts to the head or whiplash injury, allow emergency services to transport you to a hospital or seek medical care immediately. Get a referral for a specialist who will order the proper diagnostic tests. Early testing, treatment, and documentation is the best way to protect your physical and economic health. Not only does early treatment result in the best chance of recovery, but it also serves as evidence that the accident caused the TBI, something insurance companies may require for your claim.

Talk to an attorney about your accident and traumatic brain injury. A skilled accident attorney knows how to gather and present the evidence in cases where an at-fault party caused your accident so you can maximize compensation for medical expenses, lost earning and earning potential, and the pain and suffering related to your injury.