How Common and Dangerous are Brain Injuries During Auto Accidents?
Traumatic brain injuries are unfortunately common, impacting the lives of millions of Americans every year. Many of these injuries are caused by auto accidents, and result in long-term or even lifelong challenges for the victim and his or her family.
How Common are Brain Injuries During Auto Accidents?
Brain injuries are caused by many factors. The most common causes include falls, blunt force trauma, and auto accidents. Of the striking 1.4 million people who seek treatment for brain injuries each year, how many of those injuries are caused by auto accidents? Consider the following:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 55.8 percent of traumatic brain injury (TBI) deaths are caused by auto accidents.
- In 2006, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control estimated that 280,000 people were treated for brain injuries sustained in auto accidents.
- It is estimated that up to 100,000 people suffering a brain injury will have prolonged symptoms.
While these numbers are significant, it is likely that the number is actually higher. Many brain injuries exhibit only mild symptoms that may be confused with other less-dangerous conditions. Often, people do not seek treatment for these injuries, and thus, statistics will not include these reports.
How Dangerous are Brain Injuries During Auto Accidents?
It is a common misconception that brain injuries only occur during serious auto accidents. The truth is, even minor accidents can cause brain injuries. What’s more, you don’t have to strike your head or suffer physical trauma in order to suffer a brain injury. There are three processes that lead to brain injuries – bleeding, tearing, and swelling.
Bleeding in the brain is caused by force, such as when your head whips back and forth suddenly. This force causes the brain to “slosh” inside the skull, which can rupture blood vessels. This bleeding into the brain can cause various degrees of injury. Blood pooling in the brain has nowhere to go, which leads to swelling.
When there is no room inside the skull, soft brain tissue is compressed, which can damage tissue or even cause it to die. Compression can also cause certain parts of the brain to stop working properly, which can compromise the brain’s ability to control vital functions like breathing and heart rate.
Signs and Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Because brain injuries can occur from even minor auto accidents, it is not always immediately apparent that the victim has an injury. This creates the potential for hidden dangers, and highlights the importance of family and friends recognizing the signs and symptoms of brain injuries, and when to get medical attention. Depending on the type and severity of the brain injury, the signs and symptoms may include:
Mild Brain Injury:
- Disorientation or confusion
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unusual fatigue or drowsiness
- Dizziness or imbalance
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
Moderate to Severe Brain Injury:
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent or worsening headache
- Consistent or repeated nausea or vomiting
- Seizures or convulsions
- Dilated pupils
- Clear fluid draining from ears or nose
- Weakness or numbness of fingers or toes
- Loss of coordination
- Combativeness or unusual mood swings
- Slurred speech
As these examples show, the symptoms of brain injuries may also be present in other conditions, or may be indicative of a virus or other injury. It is important to let your family and friends know if you have been involved in an auto accident and experience any of these symptoms.
It is also important to see a doctor after any auto accident. Even minor “fender benders” can cause injuries that are not obvious or visible. Brain injuries of any severity can be potentially dangerous, and can impact most every other part of your body. Make sure that you get prompt medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms listed above. Brain injuries that are left untreated can result in more serious complications.
Long-Term Impact of Brain Injuries
According to the CDC, around 43 percent of all individuals with a brain injury have some form of related disability one year after the injury occurred. These disabilities include:
- Impaired cognitive function (memory, attention, etc.)
- Impaired motor function (weakness, coordination, balance, etc.)
- Loss of sensation (impaired perception, hearing, vision, or touch)
- Emotional disabilities (depression, aggression, personality changes, impulse control, etc.)
These ongoing disabilities often result in:
- Inability to work
- Inability to work at the same capacity as before the injury
- Difficulty with relationships or socialization
- Ongoing physical, occupational, or behavioral therapy
- Medical care or assistance with daily living
To reduce the risk of these long-term impacts, it is recommended that diagnosis and treatment be initiated as soon as possible after the injury.
Getting Help with Brain Injuries and Auto Accidents
If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury during an auto accident, you may be overwhelmed at the prospect of dealing with insurance companies, medical expenses, and all the other impacts such an injury may have on your lives. Fortunately, you are not alone.
At The Dixon Firm, our Atlanta burn injury attorneys are dedicated to helping auto accident victims protect their legal rights and get the compensation they deserve. Whether you need help communicating with insurance companies, or want to know more about holding someone else accountable for negligence, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more, and to schedule a free consultation.