Some of the most common car accident injuries are traumatic brain injuries.
Each year, more than 1.7 million people nationwide sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a recent scientific study. But what exactly is a TBI? Are they the same as other head injuries? How are TBIs diagnosed and treated? What are the warning signs of a TBI? And why are concussions and other TBIs so common in motor vehicle accidents?
At the Law Office of Eric Beasley, we understand how confusing and overwhelming it can be if you or someone you care about sustained a brain injury in an accident involving negligence. In observance of Brain Injury Awareness Month, we want to help you better understand TBIs and the potential legal options for pursuing justice and financial compensation. We are dedicated to helping brain injury victims and their families in Middle Tennessee navigate the complex legal process and get the compensation they need to move forward. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.
What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury is a specific type of brain injury in which the brain tissue is damaged, often due to a blow to the head. Sometimes, a TBI involves the brain being shaken inside the skull. Other times, TBIs can arise from the brain crashing into the inside of the skull. When this happens, bruising, bleeding, and other physical brain injuries can occur, sometimes resulting in severe brain damage.
What are the common types of traumatic brain injuries?
There are many different types of TBIs. However, the most common types include:
- Mild traumatic brain injury – A mild TBI (mTBI) is a less severe type of TBI and may involve losing consciousness for less than 30 minutes. Often, mild TBIs do not cause permanent brain damage. The most common type of mild TBI is a concussion. However, don't let the name fool you. There's nothing "mild" about concussions and other brain injuries, which can have serious and lifelong consequences, especially if someone sustains more than one mild TBI before the first one has had time to heal.
- Moderate traumatic brain injury – A type of TBI in which the injury victim often loses consciousness for at least 30 minutes but less than 24 hours, resulting in more serious and longer-lasting symptoms, which might not go away over time.
- Severe traumatic brain injury – A very serious TBI in which the injury victim loses consciousness for at least 24 hours and may even go into a coma. Severe TBI victims may suffer from permanent brain damage in some cases.
Along with these three types of TBIs, medical professionals also often classify traumatic brain injuries in two ways:
- Penetrating TBI – Also known as open TBI, penetrating TBIs occur when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. Penetrating TBIs typically damage only part of the brain, but the consequences can still be severe and life-changing.
- Non-penetrating TBI – Also known as closed head injury or blunt TBI, non-penetrating TBIs are caused by an external force strong enough to move the brain within the skull. This type of TBI is more common than a penetrating TBI and can be just as serious.
Are all head injuries TBIs?
No. All head injuries are not traumatic brain injuries. For example, if someone sustains a skull fracture without injuring their brain, that is not a traumatic brain injury. The same applies to cuts or lacerations to the face, which are especially common in serious car accidents. Facial cuts are not TBIs, but they can be just as serious and life-threatening in certain circumstances.
What are the warning signs of a TBI?
How do you know if you or a loved one sustained a TBI in a car accident? Some of the most common warning signs of TBIs include:
- Frequent headaches
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty staying awake
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mild to severe confusion
How are TBIs diagnosed?
Medical professionals may perform a neurological exam to measure someone's motor skills as well as their hearing, speech, coordination, and sensory skills. Such tests might also include standard medical tests for TBIs, including the Acute Concussion Evaluation (ACE) form from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2, which is designed to measure whether someone sustained a TBI.
In addition, doctors often diagnose TBIs by performing certain diagnostic imaging tests, including:
- Brain X-Rays.
- Computed tomography (CT scan).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
However, even if doctors conduct such tests, they might not diagnose a brain injury, especially soon after an accident. That's because some TBIs take several days or longer to develop. So even if you feel fine immediately after a car accident, don't simply assume you're alright. You could have a brain injury with delayed symptoms.
How are TBIs treated?
Depending on what type of TBI you sustained and the severity of your injury, medical professionals may use different medical treatments for your TBI. Such treatments can include:
- Carefully monitored rest to make sure symptoms do not get worse.
- Prescribing medications, especially if TBI victims suffer from severe pain.
- Surgical procedures, especially in cases involving severe TBIs.
- Rehabilitation involving physical therapists or speech pathologists, depending on the type of TBI.
- Cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT), which is designed to help people regain normal brain functioning.
How do car accidents cause brain injuries?
Traumatic brain injuries often occur in car accidents. That's because the violent forward and backward motion of a car crash can damage or injure the brain. Examples include:
- The brain is violently jolted forward in a rear-end accident.
- The head comes into contact with the dashboard or windshield in a head-on collision.
- The head hits a window or other part of the car in a side impact or T-Bone crash.
A brain injury lawyer can help you find your way forward
You might think you don't need a lawyer if you sustained a TBI in a car accident caused by another driver. Unfortunately, many serious car accidents quickly turn into complicated legal cases. That's because the at-fault driver might deny doing anything wrong. And when that happens, their insurance company will often do everything they can to avoid paying you the money you deserve.
Remember, insurance companies aren't charities. They are businesses that are primarily concerned with their bottom line, not your well-being. That's why it's essential to have an experienced attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
At the Law Office of Eric Beasley, we know how to deal with insurance companies and have been helping injury victims for years throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Learn more about your legal rights. Contact us today and schedule a free consultation with a law firm you can count on in a crisis.