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Most Common Traumatic Brain Injuries Seen in Automobile Accidents

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

While automobile accidents can lead to various injuries, traumatic brain injuries can often be the most common. These injuries, known as TBIs, range in their severity and can lead to both short-term and long-term effects, possibly permanently changing your life forever.

According to the National Safety Council, approximately 4.4 million people were seriously injured in automobile accidents last year. No doubt, many of these accidents involved TBIs. While we love our cars, they can also become our worst nightmares.

Below are five of the most common traumatic brain injuries experienced in car accidents, and ones you need to be aware of in case you ever find yourself in these unfortunate circumstances.

Concussion TBIs

As a mild and nonfatal form of traumatic brain injury, concussions can cause severe and sometimes long-lasting effects. They occur when the brain encounters a sudden movement, such as when it bounces against the inside of the skull. This frequently happens in automobile accidents when you are thrown forward suddenly, such as in a rear-end collision.

With a concussion, you may experience several symptoms, from a feeling of increased pressure inside your head to dizziness to nausea to confusion and fatigue. While rest will be required to recover, there are times when medical attention will be required.

Head Contusions

We all know what it’s like to get a bruise. However, a contusion is a bruise on your brain that often occurs when the head impacts an object during a car crash. This localized injury to the brain may be considered minor, or it can be more serious. For example, a severe contusion may lead to brain herniation and also swelling on the brain, both of which require immediate emergency medical attention.

Contusion symptoms may vary. Some of the most common ones are slurred speech, balance issues, numbness, or tingling in the bruised area.

Coup-contrecoup Injury

A coup-contrecoup traumatic brain injury, like the contusion, occurs when the head impacts with an object. However, where it differs is that with a coup-contrecoup, the brain’s injury occurs at the impact (coup) site and the brain’s opposite side (contrecoup). Both sides of the brain experience trauma. Many times, this injury results from negligence on behalf of the driver of a motor vehicle, and seeking a personal injury lawyer’s assistance may be necessary.

These injuries usually occur in the most violent and forceful car crashes, when the brain is jerked in one direction, then in the opposite, striking both sides of the skull. Symptoms are usually severe, including bleeding and swelling in the brain, loss of consciousness, and seizures. In extreme cases, this injury can lead to coma, stroke, or death. Immediate emergency medical help is imperative.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

traumatic brain injuries

A diffuse axonal injury or DAI, does not require an impact to occur. Instead, it is caused by the shaking, jarring, or rapid rotation of the brain inside the skull itself, such as often happens in high-speed car accidents.

A severe DAI leads to tearing of the brain’s structures, such as the brain stem’s fibers. Symptoms may begin as headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, but the one who suffers the injury falls into a coma in many cases.

Penetrating Brain Injury

An open head injury, or penetrating brain injury, is one of the most deadly types of traumatic brain injuries. If, during an accident, the skull is penetrated by an external object, two types of injury occur. One of these is a fractured or cracked skull, and the other is a severe brain injury.

Serious complications can develop with this type of injury, such as heavy bleeding, difficulty breathing, and coma. Surgery is usually required to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain. Open head injuries such as this are often fatal.

Any blow or jolt to the head can cause serious injury, even a life-threatening one. An auto accident is a primary cause of many traumatic brain injuries, TBI, and requires medical attention from the start.

Contact Us Today

If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury due to an automobile accident, you may be able to receive compensation to help with medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the injury is severe, you may need financial assistance for many months or years. Our personal injury team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. stands ready to assist you.

Our partner, Eileen Kroll, has over 30 years of experience, both as a registered nurse and as a trial attorney, and will work with you to determine your legal options. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW, for a free consultation to discuss your case and legal options.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Emily is a writer and legal professional with experience as a law firm paralegal and non-profit legal administrator. Prior to her legal career, Emily earned her Bachelor's Degree in International Affairs and worked with a government consulting group out of Washington, D.C. Today she splits her time between the Florida coast and the North Carolina mountains.



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