The Risk of Traumatic Brain Injuries from Vehicle Crashes

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to lifelong, debilitating injuries, so you should never settle a case with an insurance company before you are certain of the full extent of any head injury.

The brain is a marvelous instrument. It is generally well protected within the skull, with its thick bone covering and by the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), in which it floats within the cranial cavity. Nevertheless, it is remarkably fragile and it is not impervious to injury, as a strong blow to the skull can cause the brain to strike the interior of the skull.

For much of human history, hard falls and being struck in the head by a club may have been the leading cause of these types of injuries. Today, however, vehicle crashes, sports injuries and military combat cause a great many of the traumatic brain injuries that occur.

Shake it off?

At one time, if you suffered a head injury on the football field or in a car crash, if there was no visible swelling or bleeding, you may have been sent back to the field or home with a clean bill of health. In recent years, the premature deaths of numerous football or hockey players led to a closer examination of concussions and the resulting traumatic brain injuries.

The evidence is now growing that even seemingly minor concussions can cause some degree of traumatic brain injury and that multiple small concussions can potentially lead to the deadly condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This condition can manifest itself with individuals demonstrating failing memories, becoming easily confused, suffering from poor decision-making and eventually dementia-like symptoms.

Vehicle crashes often cause concussions

If you don't play a contact sport and do not serve overseas in combat areas, a traumatic brain injury is most likely to have been caused by a vehicle crash. In any crash, even those at relatively low speed, you could suffer a mild concussion. Remember, your skull does not have to strike any object to cause such an injury. The motion of having your head snapped around during a violent crash is enough to cause the brain to crash into the sides of the skull and cause a traumatic brain injury.

This is why you never want to accept any insurance offers to settle a potential lawsuit before you are absolutely certain you did not suffer a traumatic brain injury or other latent injuries. The danger of settling a case too early, before your medical condition is accurately known, could leave you with inadequate resources to deal with injuries that only become known weeks or months after the crash.

Are you certain you are OK?

A traumatic brain injury caused by a concussion can be deceptive. You may "see stars" after the collision and become dizzy or suffer a headache after the crash, but those effects could lessen and eventually go away. You may believe you are "fine" and that further medical treatment or examination is unnecessary.

This could be a mistake. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may take days to appear. They may be subtle. Your family may note that you seem slightly different and that you are more irritable or sensitive to light. You may begin to be depressed or may find your sleep is no longer restful.

You may find it difficult to concentrate, follow instructions or be confused by tasks that you previously had had no difficulty with. Your work may begin to suffer and you may find yourself having arguments or disagreements with coworkers or your supervisors. You may begin missing work due to these issues.

Undiagnosed and untreated traumatic brain injuries could lead to a host of bad results, from an inability to work and earn a living to dementia. After a vehicle crash, much of the process can seem disorienting and overwhelming.

Speak with an attorney before settling any claim

This is where experienced personal injury attorneys can provide a great deal of help. They understand how insurance companies work, their tactics and goals, and they also understand the type of medical attention you should seek, to ensure that your condition and potential injuries are discovered. They also know how to calculate the cost of your injuries over a lifetime, and will work to obtain the compensation that will meet your current and future needs medical needs.