Can Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur from Car Accidents?

traumatic brain injury

One of the most severe personal injuries that anyone can sustain is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately 1.7 million TBIs annually in an isolated injury or along with other injuries.

Additionally, the CDC reports that annual head trauma results in roughly 230,000 hospitalizations, 50,000 deaths, and 80,000 more permanent or long-term disabilities.

The second leading cause of TBIs, behind falls, is car accidents, which account for roughly 35 percent of traumatic brain injuries.

A sudden and violent blow to the head or body can cause a TBI, and those sustaining these injuries in a car accident are often jolted during a collision.

TBIs are classified depending on the severity and mechanism of the head injury. The Mayo Clinic classifies head trauma with the associated symptoms.

Symptoms of Mild TBI  

The signs and symptoms of mild TBI may include: 

  • Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms may include headaches, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, problems with speech, dizziness, or loss of balance.
  • Sensory symptoms. These include blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell, and sensitivity to light or sound. 
  • Cognitive, behavioral, or mental symptoms. These symptoms can manifest as loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes; no loss of consciousness but a state of being dazed, confused, or disoriented; memory or concentration problems; mood changes or mood swings; feeling depressed or anxious; difficulty sleeping; or sleeping more than usual. 

Symptoms of Moderate to Severe TBI

Moderate to severe TBIs can include a variety of symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury.

Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms of a TBI include the following:

  • Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Frequent vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination

Cognitive or mental symptoms. Patients sustaining a TBI can experience the following:

  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

Symptoms of TBI in Children

 Young children and infants who sustain brain injuries may not be able to communicate headaches, sensory problems, confusion, and similar signs. In a child with TBI, you may detect:

  • Adjustment in eating or nursing habits
  • Uncommon or easy irritability
  • Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
  • Change in ability to pay attention
  • Alteration in sleep habits
  • Seizures
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Drowsiness
  • Disinterest in favorite toys or activities

Types of TBIs include a concussion, contusion, diffuse axonal injury, traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage, and hematoma.

Car Accidents that Can Cause TBIs

Being involved in a car accident can subject you to being jolted within your vehicle, and your head can come into contact with your steering wheel, dashboard, or window, or a free-flying object could hit you.

Typically, a sudden jolt in a car accident will result in whiplash, which occurs when your head is violently thrown backward and then forward when your car is hit from behind.  

When this occurs, your brain could strike the inside of your skull at high speed, resulting in mild to moderate symptoms of a TBI, along with neck and back pain.

A front-end collision can also cause your vehicle to suddenly stop, which means that you continue to move forward at the same rate of speed you were traveling before the impact while your car abruptly stops.

This can also cause your brain to slam against your skull with violent force, which will often result in a traumatic injury to the brain.

In a side-impact collision, your head will be thrown in the direction of the impact, which forces your brain to strike the opposite direction of your skull and then back again.

A T-bone collision is more violent than being struck in the front or the rear of your car. This type of crash leaves the person susceptible to strike their head against the window or an outside object, along with cuts to your head or fractures to the skull.

Additionally, shards of glass, debris, or even bone fragments could enter the brain and result in devastating, life-threatening wounds known as open head injuries.

Your skull is roughly a quarter of an inch thick, and a blow to the head with the force of impact that accompanies most car collisions can result in tragic and long-term suffering, and the healing process will be long and tedious.  

What Occurs after a Brain Injury?

If you have sustained a brain injury from a car accident, you need to seek emergency medical care immediately.

Although each situation is different, the following is the typical flow of events after a car accident brain injury. However, it is important to note that you may not feel the effects of a brain injury from a motorcycle accident or car accident immediately. Every case is unique. Even if you do not believe you need it, get medical attention right away just to make sure.

After your car accident, you will usually be subject to a variety of medical tests, including a computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and X-rays.

If during the diagnosis process, doctors believe that there is tissue swelling from a TBI, intracranial pressure monitors can be utilized. Doctors can monitor the level of pressure a patient is experiencing by inserting a probe into the skull.

These tests can reveal whether you have sustained a TBI or brain swelling after a car accident. The first step toward treatment is diagnosing the injury.  

A medical team can formulate a treatment plan depending on the severity of your TBI. In mild cases, rest and over-the-counter pain medication will be all you need as your doctor monitors your symptoms.  

For moderate to severe cases, your emergency medical team may employ diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in the brain. In extreme situations, anti-seizure or coma-inducing drugs may be necessary.

Depending on the severity of the injury, emergency surgery may be required, as doctors need to operate in circumstances involving skull fractures, bleeding on the brain, and extremely swollen brain tissue.

Your rehabilitation will depend on injury and overall condition. If your brain injury is severe, you will need to further care through an inpatient facility after emergency care. More severe brain injuries could have you relearning how to walk, talk, and perform simple daily activities.

In other circumstances, you will have the option of pursuing ongoing outpatient care to see a physical therapist, speech pathologist, or even a neuropsychologist.

Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Advocate on Behalf of Clients Sustaining Traumatic Brain Injury

If you are the victim of a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, the Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman will fight for your compensation as you concentrate on putting your life back together. Our experienced legal team has been successfully representing clients seriously injured in car accidents for decades. Call us at 856-751-2345 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Mount Laurel and surrounding areas.