How Car Accident Head Injuries Can Go Unnoticed

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Key Points:

  • Victims of brain injuries often don’t show any visible signs of trauma, and symptoms may be delayed for hours or even days.
  • It’s a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident to confirm whether a concussion is present.
  • Head injuries often go unreported or improperly compensated for in automobile insurance claim settlements.
  • A personal injury attorney can help ensure a concussion is appropriately documented and included in a claim so that you can receive full and fair compensation for your injuries

The impact caused by car accidents can lead to countless injuries – from minor bumps and bruises to severe or even life-threatening trauma. While some of these injuries may be extremely apparent, others can go unnoticed for hours or even days.

Head trauma is one injury that is often overlooked because the damage is not visible. Instead, it is hidden deep inside the skull where the brain may be bruised and bleeding.

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This can be extremely dangerous, as left untreated, head injuries can cause long-term damage or even death. Therefore, it’s always best to seek medical attention to confirm there is no cause for concern.

Here’s what you should know about head injuries caused by car accidents and how you may be able to receive compensation if you’ve been injured.

Concussion: A Head Injury That Often Goes Unnoticed

Immediately following an accident, victims often think they are fine. This false sense of well-being can result from the body’s first response to a crisis – a flood of adrenaline through the circulatory system.

An adrenaline rush can mask pain, leaving the victim with the feeling that they are uninjured when, in fact, they need urgent medical care.

Victims of brain injuries often don’t show any visible signs of trauma, and symptoms may be delayed until hours or even days after the injury occurs.

Common symptoms of a concussion include confusion or loss of memory, vomiting, dizziness, coordination problems, confusion, ringing in the ears, sleepiness, or seizures. Loss of consciousness after a blow to the head is a sure sign that medical evaluation is necessary.

It’s a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident to confirm whether a concussion is present.

How a Car Accident Can Cause a Concussion

Your brain is protected by the thick skull, and your brain floats in a cushion of fluid that surrounds it.

When the body is exposed to a sudden, severe jolt or collides with an object, the brain can be sent careening forcefully, twisting and turning inside your head. Unfortunately, the delicate tissues of the brain are not meant to cope with such impacts.

Even with today’s automotive safety equipment, like airbags and headrests, blows to the head are common in car accidents. When vehicles collide, gravity and inertia may hammer victims’ heads into the dash, windows, doorposts, and other hard surfaces. This makes automobile accidents one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury.

How to Detect a Concussion After a Car Accident

Concussions can be difficult to diagnose for the reasons mentioned above. Nevertheless, there are a few red flags to watch for after a car accident.

First and foremost, any time a person loses consciousness after an accident – even for a moment – it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Other symptoms of a concussion are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or drowsiness – looking dazed
  • Pupils that are dilated or one pupil larger than the other
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, memory loss, or slurred speech
  • Difficulty walking or poor coordination
  • Irrational or aggressive behavior
  • Seizures
  • Numbness or paralysis in any part of the body

Generally, these symptoms show up right away. However, it is possible that signs may be delayed by hours or even days. If you have these symptoms following a known blow to the head, you should seek medical help.

How Doctors Rate the Severity of a Head Injury

Doctors and medical staff may express concussion severity in different ways, but generally, there are three levels of head trauma:

Mild head injury: This is associated with a common bang to the head. There is usually no evidence of trauma on the head, scalp, or face in mild cases, and typically no loss of consciousness occurs. If there is memory loss, it may only last for about 30 minutes. The injured person may vomit once or twice and complain of a headache.

Moderate head injury: In moderate cases, there are generally signs of trauma to the outside of the head, such as a cut, bruise, or lump. The victim may have briefly lost consciousness or show signs of memory loss (amnesia). Other symptoms can include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. Often, there is discoloration around the eyes or behind the ear that may or may not include a discharge of clear cerebrospinal fluid from one or both of the ears.

Severe head injury: In addition to obvious damage to the head and face, serious head injury is often accompanied by injuries to other parts of the body, including the neck, arms, legs, or major organs. In most cases, the victim is unconscious or non-responsive, but sometimes, aggressive behavior may also happen. Seizures also occur in about 10% of people with severe head injuries.

How Medical Professionals Check for a Concussion After a Car Accident

At the hospital, the medical staff will work to stabilize the victim and do an initial neurological and physical evaluation. They will examine the size of your pupils, evaluate your reflexes, and check your sensation and muscle strength. If these test results are abnormal, you may be subjected to other tests or admitted to the hospital for observation.

Following the initial examination, your doctor may order spinal X-rays or a Computed Tomography (CT) scan of the head. The CT scan is the most effective way to detect skull fractures, brain injury, or bleeding inside the head.

How a Concussion Is Treated

Your doctor will likely provide thorough instructions and cautions if you’ve been diagnosed with a brain injury. Typically, the best treatment for mild to moderate concussions is rest. Both mental and physical downtime enables the brain to recover more quickly.

Depending on the severity of your injury, a course of rehabilitation may be necessary for you to return to normal. In severe traumatic brain injury cases, victims may need to re-learn language and motor skills and work on physical coordination.

Short- and Long-Term Consequences of a Concussion

In the days and weeks following a concussive event, the victim may experience headaches, “mental fog,” or cognitive delay, like difficulty answering questions, impaired judgment, ringing in the ears, and sensitivity to light and sound. With rest, the short-term effects of a mild or moderate concussion usually resolve in one to four weeks.

Unfortunately, not everybody heals quickly. Up to 30% of concussion patients experience delayed recovery. More serious traumatic brain injuries also take longer to heal. These patients may experience the symptoms above and extended difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or problem-solving. The longer the healing process, the worse this can become.

Depression and irritability are also common in cases where healing is impaired. Some victims with severe traumatic brain injuries may never fully recover. In these cases, long-term care for the victim may be required.

A Concussion from a Car Accident Can Be Life-Threatening

Because concussion symptoms don’t immediately present themselves, damage and bleeding inside the brain can become fatal. Elderly people, anyone on blood thinners, and those who have had a previous concussion are at particular risk for permanent brain damage or even death.

Suffering a second concussion – even a minor one – after a previous event or before the first injury heals completely can be deadly.

Receiving Compensation for a Concussion Caused by a Car Accident

Even though a concussion is a serious injury that comes with burdensome bills for medical care, these injuries often go unreported or improperly compensated for in automobile insurance claim settlements.

More obvious injuries, such as broken bones, cuts, and bruises, are easy to report and claim as damage caused by an accident. However, because concussions are not something that can be seen, they tend to be left off the list.

When concussions are not included in the claim, the victim may not receive a full and fair settlement for damages even though all medical bills, lost income, as well as pain and suffering, should be compensated by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Oversights like this can be easily avoided with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Schedule a Free Consultation

At The Millar Law Firm, we offer a free first consultation to help you understand your rights. By taking advantage of this service, you can learn the best way to proceed and be more confident that all of your damages, including those less obvious like concussions, may be compensated.

We have been fighting for the rights of accident victims for decades. Allow us to use our experience and expertise to help you get a full and fair settlement. Call The Millar Law Firm today at 740-400-0000

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