X-ray of the head and brain of a person

What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

What are Traumatic Brain Injuries? Traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBIs, are serious forms of head trauma. According to the Mayo Clinic, traumatic brain injury “usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body.” Traumatic brain injuries can also result from “an object that goes through brain tissue, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull,” as the Mayo Clinic explains. Traumatic brain injuries rain from mild to moderate to severe. Concussions are a type of mild traumatic brain injury. With mild traumatic brain injuries, brain cells are usually affected only temporarily. However, a history of multiple mild TBIs can have long-term consequences including the possibility of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other degenerative diseases. When brain injuries are moderate or severe, changes to the brain can occur that may be permanent. With severe TBIs, there is a high risk of death from head trauma.

Look Out for Traumatic Brain Injuries After a Vehicle Collision

Nobody expects to suffer an injury in a car accident or other type of traffic crash in or around Hamilton, Ohio. However, traffic accidents happen more often than you might think. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were 1,244 fatal crashes in 2021. Beyond fatal accidents, there were thousands more collisions resulting in nonfatal injuries. In many of these accidents, vehicle occupants as well as motorcyclists and bicyclists suffered head trauma. Motor vehicle collisions in Ohio can be disorienting and painful, and head injuries need to be taken extremely seriously so that they are treated properly and the injury victim has the best chance of healing fully.

Traumatic brain injuries are among the most common and serious types of injury incurred in road accidents. These types of injuries vary in terms of severity, but they almost always require medical attention. You need to look out for traumatic brain injuries after a vehicle collision. When traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are minor, they may not produce immediate signs or symptoms. More serious TBIs can require emergency treatment and may be fatal.

What are Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries That Can Result From a Collision?

What are the different types of brain injuries that a person can experience in a serious crash? As Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, TBIs are marked by “a sudden, external, physical assault [that] damages the brain.” Further, traumatic brain injuries are “one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults.” It is important to understand that the term “traumatic brain injury” is an umbrella term that can refer to a wide variety of head traumas. In some types of TBIs, the injury is localized in one specific part of the brain, while other types of TBIs can cause harm across the brain. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that TBIs typically fall into one of two categories:

  • Closed brain injuries, which are those caused by a “non-penetrating injury to the brain with no break in the skull,” and usually result from “a rapid forward or backward movement and shaking of the brain inside the bony skull that results in bruising and testing of brain tissue and blood vessels”; and
  • Penetrating brain injuries, which occur “when there is a break in the skull, such as when a bullet pierces a brain.”

Vehicle Collisions can result in both closed brain injuries and penetrating brain injuries. Within both of these categories, brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe. Additional terms that you may encounter while you are on the lookout for traumatic brain injuries after a vehicle collision include but are not limited to the following:

  • Diffuse axonal injury, or “DAI,” which is the term that refers to the long connecting nerve fibers in the brain (known as axons) tearing or shearing. This type of harm is severe, and it often results in a patient going into a coma. DAI also affects various parts of the brain and tends to be diffuse. In order to diagnose DAI and resulting changes in the brain, a patient usually requires tests beyond computed tomography scans (CT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. DAI can happen with a closed brain injury, and exterior signs and symptoms may not be obvious.
  • Primary brain injury, or “the sudden and profound injury to the brain that is considered to be more or less complete at the time of impact,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Car accident TBIs usually are classified as primary brain injuries, although head trauma sustained in a collision can also result in secondary brain injury.
  • Secondary brain injury, which is a term that “refers to the changes that evolve over a period of hours to days after the primary brain injury.” Various types of changes to the brain can occur as part of a secondary brain injury. Johns Hopkins expressly identifies “stages of cellular, chemical, tissue, or blood vessel changes in the brain that contribute to further destruction of brain tissue.”
  • Complicated TBI, which means that a CT scan of the head or an MRI shows changes in the brain.
  • Uncomplicated TBI, which means that CT scans, MRIs, and other tests are normal. A person can have an uncomplicated TBI whether the brain injury is mild, moderate, or severe.
  • Internal brain damage, which is damage that is not outwardly visible but can occur following a traumatic brain injury that is a closed brain injury. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains how a direct blow to a person’s head, or a jolting of the head, can result in “bruising of the brain and . . . damage to the internal tissue and blood vessels.” This type of internal brain damage has a specific site of impact known as a coup lesion. When the brain jolts in the other direction, the bruising is known as a contrecoup lesion. The way in which the brain bumps into the side of the skull and causes these lesions can also result in internal brain bleeds, bruises, and swelling.

How Do Vehicle Collisions Cause Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Motor vehicle collisions can cause both open and closed brain injuries. Closed traumatic brain injuries in car accidents often result from a person’s head being jolted back and forth due to the force of the collision. With an open traumatic brain injury, a piece of the motor vehicle, such as glass from the windshield, might pierce a person’s skull.

According to a paper-reviewed article in Traffic Injury Prevention, traumatic brain injuries in motor vehicle collisions account for nearly 219,00 emergency department visits, nearly 57,000 hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 fatalities every year on average. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that traffic crashes are a leading cause of serious and deadly traumatic brain injuries each year.

What are the Common Types of Car Accidents Causing Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Many different types of car accidents can result in traumatic brain injuries, including seemingly minor crashes. You should be on the lookout for a traumatic brain injury after a vehicle collision of any of the following types:

  • High-speed collisions;
  • Fender-benders;
  • Rear-end collisions;
  • Side-swipe accidents;
  • Head-on crashes;
  • T-bone accidents; and
  • Intersection crashes.

Even if you feel relatively healthy after a car accident, you should seek medical attention. Some signs and symptoms of TBIs, especially when a person suffers a concussion, may not appear immediately.

What are Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries After a Vehicle Collision?

Common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries after motor vehicle accidents will vary depending upon the type and severity of the TBI. In general, however, you should pay attention to any of the following signs or symptoms that may indicate a brain injury:

  • Headache;
  • Dizziness;
  • Fainting;
  • Fatigue;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Dilated pupils;
  • Confusion;
  • Memory issues;
  • Convulsions;
  • Seizures;
  • Behavior changes;
  • Mood changes;
  • Agitation;
  • Light sensitivity;
  • Smell sensitivity;
  • Sleeping issues; and
  • Speech slurring.

The Cleveland Clinic emphasizes that infants and children can experience slightly different signs and symptoms, which may include issues with eating or inconsolable crying.

What are Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Traffic Crashes?

Traumatic brain injury in an auto accident can have various consequences depending upon the severity of the brain injury and whether it is an open or closed brain injury. Mild brain injuries, or concussions, typically have symptoms that subside with treatment and care. However, as we noted above, multiple concussions over a lifetime are more likely to have long-term consequences, such as CTE or other degenerative conditions. Moderate and severe TBIs are more likely to cause permanent disability. Even a mild TBI can require rehabilitation and care from a physician.

Johns Hopkins Medicine identifies various types of deficits that can result from traumatic brain injuries, which include:

  • Cognitive consequences: Possibility of a coma, confusion, attention span issues, memory problems, amnesia, difficulty with problem-solving, judgment call problems, difficulty understanding abstract concepts, losing sense of time and space, losing sense of awareness of oneself and others, and inability to perform multiple commands.
  • Motor consequences: Paralysis, spasticity issues, poor balance, endurance problems, inability to plan one’s motor movements, difficulty moving, tremors, difficulty swallowing, and problems with coordination.
  • Sensory consequences: Problems with hearing or vision or taste or smell or touch, and loss of or extreme sensations in some body parts.
  • Communication or language consequences: Problems speaking or choosing words (aphasia), problems reading (alexia), problems writing (agraphia), difficulty performing common actions (apraxia), slowed speech, difficulty forming sensical sentences, difficulty identifying objects, and difficulty working with numbers.
  • Functional consequences: Impaired ability to perform activities of daily living. known as ADLs (e.g., bathing, dressing, eating), organizational difficulties, or problems driving a motor vehicle.
  • Social consequences: Imapired interpersonal relationships, problems keeping and making friends, and difficulties understanding social nuances.
  • Regulatory and physical consequences: Fatigue, sleep issues, dizziness, headaches, and loss of control of bowel or bladder.
  • Personality changes: Apathy, lack of motivation, irritability, anxiety, depression, and lack of inhibition.

Compensation for a Car Accident Traumatic Brain Injury

If you sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle collision, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation. The first step toward seeking compensation usually involves filing an auto insurance claim to seek money to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and related losses. When traumatic brain injuries are moderate or severe, the injured person may require more damages than the insurance company can pay according to the policy limits. If you cannot obtain full compensation through an auto insurance claim, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Civil lawsuits for traumatic brain injuries in car crashes are common.

When you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you may be eligible for various types of damages, including but not limited to compensation for:

  • Medical bills;
  • Rehabilitative therapy;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life; and
  • Pain and suffering.

In order to be eligible to receive those types of compensation in a car accident lawsuit based on a traumatic brain injury, you must file your claim quickly. Under Ohio law, plaintiffs usually have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Once that two-year statute of limitations runs out, your claim will become time-barred. To avoid ending up with a time-barred claim, you should note the date of the accident. Your claim must be filed within two years from that date.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Hamilton, Ohio

Traffic crashes in the Hamilton, Ohio area can range widely in terms of type and severity. If you were involved in an accident, regardless of how minor or major the wreck might seem, it is critical to look out for traumatic brain injuries after a vehicle collision. Sometimes traumatic brain injuries do not produce immediate signs and symptoms. Indeed, in some situations, signs of a concussion will not appear for hours or even days. To ensure that you have a traumatic brain injury treated, you should seek a medical assessment immediately. Even if you do not instantly have signs of a TBI, it is important to have a doctor evaluate you for harm.

When traumatic brain injuries do occur in collisions, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. In collisions caused by negligent motorists, injury victims often can seek damages to cover a variety of losses. Our Hamilton motor vehicle accident lawyers can help you to seek compensation for direct and indirect losses.

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