Head Injuries from Car Accidents
Head injuries, also referred to as brain injuries or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), are a type of injury that can affect the scalp, skull, brain, tissues, and blood vessels in the head. Some milder head injuries, such as bumps or bruises, can be treated conservatively. However, more severe head injuries, like a fractured skull or open wound, require extensive treatment, including the possibility of surgical intervention, and can be life-threatening.
Car accidents are one of the most common ways that an individual can sustain a head injury. The amount of violent force involved in a car crash can have potentially catastrophic consequences for accident victims that could drastically affect their quality of life and may even be fatal. It is important that car accident victims seek medical attention if they believe they are injured immediately after or in the weeks following their accident. Also, accident victims should gather all information related to the accident should they later decide to seek legal compensation for discovered injuries or losses.
Common Head Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
When an auto accident occurs, the force can cause passengers to hit their heads on parts of the vehicle like the steering wheel, dashboard, and car doors. They can also be struck by loose objects that might fly around the vehicle upon impact. The severity of a head injury will depend on the degree of damage done to the brain as well as the injury’s location in the brain. A variety of head injuries can result and will manifest through different symptoms. Common head injuries sustained in car accidents include, but are not limited to, the following:
Concussions are generally mild head injuries that are caused by a blow to the head or a hit to the body that forces the head to suddenly move back and forth. The sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around inside of the skull and result in chemical changes in the brain or damage to brain cells. Keep in mind that concussions are only described as “mild” because they are typically not life-threatening, but they can be a very serious injury.
Symptoms of a concussion may not appear immediately. It is possible for symptoms to take hours or even days to develop after the initial injury. Symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, trouble balancing, sensitivity to light or noise, fatigue, headaches, nausea, irritability, and vision problems.
A contusion is a bruise, or, collection of blood, in the brain that is caused by an impact to the head. This type of injury occurs when capillaries or blood vessels are damaged and blood leaks in the surrounding area. In a car accident, this can result from the driver or a passenger hitting their head on a fixed object like a window or a loose object, like a cell phone. Contusions range in severity depending on the force of the impact. Symptoms will depend on the location of the injury and the size of the bleed. If the bleeding does not stop on its own, surgery may be necessary.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
Diffuse axonal injuries occur when the brain quickly moves back and forth inside the skull, causing damage to nerve cells in the brain. Extensive damage to nerve cells prevents information from being transmitted throughout the brain. The effects of this type of injury can be very severe and it is not uncommon for victims to end up in comas.
The most common symptom of a DAI is loss of consciousness, which usually lasts six hours or longer. If the injury victim remains conscious, other symptoms include confusion, headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. This type of head injury is more common in high-speed car accidents because of the extreme forces that are exerted on the body.
A coup-contrecoup head injury affects two sites of the brain—the initial site of impact and the opposite side of the brain. This injury usually results from a direct blow to the head and is often seen in auto accidents. Internal tissue and blood vessels are damaged at the site of impact, which is called a coup lesion. The brain then bounces backwards, hitting the opposite side of the skull and causing another bruise called a contrecoup lesion. The back-and-forth movement of the brain inside of the skull can cause damage such as internal bleeding, bruising, and swelling of the brain.
The auto accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy understand the life-altering effects a head injury can have on accident victims and their loved ones. Their results for clients who have suffered head injuries from car accidents include a $32 million record-breaking verdict for a veteran who suffered brain damage when he was struck by a driver impaired by drugs. To speak with one of our skilled attorneys, call 212-736-5300.
Treatment of Head Injuries
When head injury victims are first examined, the severity of their injury will likely be judged using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). Using a points system, this scale evaluates the injury based on eye opening response, verbal response, and motor response. The medical examiner will mark higher points for more alert responses and lower points for poorer responses. The overall score is tallied at the end with lower scores indicating a more severe head injury. Generally, head injuries will be classified as follows:
- Severe: Score of 8 or less
- Moderate: Score of 9 to 12
- Mild: Score of 13 or higher
Diagnostic tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) tests will likely be done to gain more information about the injury and form a diagnosis and treatment plan.
The goals of treatment for head injuries are to resuscitate the patient, minimize further damage, and aid in their transition to recovery. Serious head injuries may require intensive care or even surgery to save the patient’s life. Most patients suffering from moderate to severe head injuries will eventually require rehabilitation to relearn skills for recovery.
Of the many injuries that can be sustained in a car accident, head injuries are among the most devastating. Thankfully, most accident victims who suffer a head injury will experience a mild injury that does not require hospital care. The effects of moderate to severe head injuries, however, can completely alter an individual’s life as well as the lives of their loved ones, who may be forced to permanently take on a caretaking role.
Those that suffer serious injuries due to the negligent behavior of others may be able to obtain legal compensation for their losses. If an accident victim or their loved ones decide to pursue legal action, it may be in their best interest to consult an experienced car accident attorney who can guide them through the legal process.
Seeking Legal Assistance for a Head Injury
Accident victims who have suffered severe head injuries will require extensive treatment. Moderate to severe head injury victims should receive care in a hospital where they can be constantly monitored by medical professionals. The costs for medical treatment and care will quickly add up. For this reason, head injury victims may seek legal assistance to obtain financial compensation through a personal injury claim for the losses they have incurred because of their injury.
The value of each case varies depending on a number of factors, such as liability, loss of income, and cost of care. For a personal injury case to succeed, your attorney will need to be able to prove that another party acted negligently and that their negligent actions directly caused your injuries. Cases in which the accident victim suffered a head injury can be more complex due to the ways in which TBIs may affect cognitive function. It is best to consult a lawyer who has extensive experience working on head injury cases and understands the process.
Speak with a Head Injury Attorney Today
The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are dedicated to obtaining justice for those who have suffered losses as a result of the negligent behavior of others. Our legal team will work tirelessly to evaluate your case and determine the best path forward to receive fair compensation to cover current and future expenses related to your injury.
Results* for clients who have suffered head injuries in car accidents include:
- $32,756,156 record-breaking verdict for a 60-year-old army veteran who sustained extensive brain damage and fell into a coma when he was struck by an impaired driver
- $13,500,000 record-breaking settlement for a 24-year-old pedestrian who suffered a TBI when she was struck by a car in Suffolk County, NY
- $8,800,000 settlement for a woman who suffered a head injury when she was struck by a van that jumped the sidewalk while walking to pick her grandchildren up from school
- $7,525,000 settlement in a New York case for a family involved in a car accident in which a mother and her son died and two other children suffered serious injuries, including head injuries
- $2,558,000 settlement in a wrongful death case in which the passenger of a car involved in an accident suffered fatal head injuries
- $1,800,000 settlement for an NYPD Sergeant who suffered a diffuse axonal injury when her vehicle was struck by a truck
- $1,500,000 settlement for a pedestrian who sustained a TBI when she was struck by a van while crossing a road in the Bronx
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*Prior results for not guarantee a similar outcome.