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What Auto Accident Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Need to Know About Their Injury


January 07, 2022

There are few car accident injuries as devastating as a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a major cause of disability and death. In 2019, there were approximately 61,000 TBI-related fatalities in the United States. That is approximately 166 TBI-related fatalities every day. This type of life altering injury typically has a permanent debilitating impact that that may rob an accident victim of the ability to walk, speak and think. While traumatic brain injuries are not caused exclusively by motor vehicle accidents, collisions constitute the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries for those under the age of 75. Traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents are also the most significant cause of long-term serious disability in children and teens.

A traumatic brain injury can deprive a family of the love and companionship of a loved one and cause financial turmoil.  If the person who suffers this type of life-altering injury is a substantial contributor to a family's household income, one's family may face astronomical medical expenses while suffering a significant reduction in household income.  

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to short- or long-term medical issues. Depending on the how severe the brain injury is, those who sustain a traumatic brain injury might face medical issues that last a week or the rest of their lives. A person who sustains a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury could suffer life-long symptoms from the injury. If you believe that you or a loved one has sustained a head injury, it is crucial that you are seen by a doctor. A majority of people who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion will be able to recover safely at their home after a medical examination.  Those accident victims who sustained a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury may need recurring medical care to help them recover. 

Brain injuries are measured in severity using the Glasgow Coma Scale. The Glasgow Coma Scale ascertains how responsive the patient is to specific behavioral measures. The Glasgow Outcome Scale is utilized at various times to determine the prognosis, or the chances of the patient regaining their independence.

Brain injury is commonly rated as mild, moderate and severe. Other measures, like the Rancho Los Amigos Scale, are used to assess consciousness, responsiveness and receptive skills. Often, the full effects of the brain injury are not fully understood until after the survivor completes emergency medical treatment and has entered into the recovery phase.

Whether or not a brain injury victim will regain their independence often depends on the severity and location of the brain injury. Although there aren’t any guarantees to recovery, a lot of brain injury victims often make significant strides toward recovery. Patient improvement sometimes can take years after the initial injury, and in a lot of TBI cases, people can return a life filled with purpose and meaning.

Along with the enormous emotional toll on a family when a family member suffers a traumatic brain injury, the financial costs are almost unimaginable.  It has been estimated that the annual direct and indirect costs of traumatic brain injuries in the United States exceed $48 billion per year.  The cost of treatment for traumatic brain injury during one's lifetime can be as much as $4 million.  The medical care and rehabilitative costs alone frequently exceed $150,000 for hospital bills, vocational rehabilitation and training, and modifications of one’s home.  

More than a million people per year suffer some form of traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries often are very serious resulting in almost fifty-thousand fatalities per year with another eighty-thousand people experiencing significant long-term disability.  These statistics include traumatic brain injury victims treated in hospitals but do not count those treated in doctor’s offices or emergency rooms.

Although there may be different types of accidents that can cause a traumatic brain injury, the most common cause is a motor vehicle accident. When a vehicle collides with another vehicle or a stationary object, the driver or a passenger’s body could be jolted forward so that the victim’s head strikes the windshield, dashboard, or another hard interior surface.  Part of the vehicle or an external object (vehicle ejections) could even penetrate the brain.

The force of a vehicle occupant’s body being whipped suddenly forward than backward can also cause a traumatic brain injury.  The brain may continue moving inside the skull and impact the hard bony structure of the inside of the skull.  The brain is made of a soft gelatinous material, which is susceptible to injury when impacting the hard bony surface of the skull.  Because the skull and brain move at different speeds during a motor vehicle collision given their difference in mass and weight, the brain could collide with the inside of the skull. The force of impact from a serious car accident can cause a motor vehicle accident victim to suffer swelling of the brain, severe contusions, or axonal shearing. 

Diffuse axonal shearing occurs when the brain is propelled forward then backward inside the skull resulting in it being first being squeezed or compressed and then stretched because of the soft gelatinous nature of the brain.  The fragile axons of the neurons also suffer from this process of compression and stretching.  If the force of the collision is severe enough, the axons might be stretched to the point that they tear, which is referred to as axonal shearing and can cause the neurons to die.

If you or a loved one sustained a head injury or a traumatic brain injury during a motor vehicle accident and this accident was caused by a negligent driver, it is essential that you or your loved one speaks to a skilled traumatic brain injury car accident attorney. After an accident, you need to understand you legal rights. At your free consultation with one of our experience car accident attorneys, one of our attorneys can review your situation, explain your legal options, and discuss a potential claim for financial compensation.

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Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html

https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html#:~:text=A%20traumatic%20brain%20injury%2C%20or,a%20gunshot)%20to%20the%20head

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.