Symptoms of a head injury after a car accident and the next steps to take
Being involved in a serious car accident can be an emotionally, physically and financially devastating event. However, after the initial shock, the physical damage can be even more severe. If you have been involved in a car accident, it is important to know the symptoms and implications of a head injury or a concussion.
Just as your brain is a complex circuit, the symptoms of a concussion or brain injury can be equally complex. The symptoms may change over time, and simply feeling fine immediately following an accident isn’t enough to know that you’re okay. If you or a loved one were in a car accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to check for head and brain injuries, even if you feel fine.
Common types of brain injury
It is common for people to refer to all brain injuries under the heading of “concussion.” However, this is a specific event and represents only one type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Knowing the proper terminology and symptoms is key.
A concussion occurs when the brain makes contact with the inside of your skull and is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. This is almost always caused by a dramatic change in speed, such as a head-on car accident.
Concussions vary significantly in severity, and there can be a myriad of symptoms which may include loss of consciousness, headaches, forgetfulness, nausea, dizziness, confusion, slurred speech or even personality changes.
Unlike a concussion, a contusion is a bruise on the brain itself that happens following a direct impact or collision with the outside of your head. In the context of a car accident, a contusion is often caused by a projected object striking the head of the driver or passenger, or by the head making contact with a fixed object within the vehicle such as a steering wheel.
The symptoms of a contusion are similar to a concussion, but not exactly the same. Contusion symptoms typically involve cognitive changes, difficulties in forming new memories, numbness on the head or reduced balance and coordination.
Penetration is just as it sounds. It occurs when an object pierces the outer skull, resulting in foreign debris making contact with the brain. As would be expected, the symptoms can be quite severe and include heavy bleeding, seizures, difficulty breathing, paralysis, loss of consciousness, comatose state or even death.
Unlike the other events that we have discussed, a diffuse axonal injury doesn’t necessarily require a severe impact. Rather, this condition is caused when the head undergoes a significant twist or shaking period. Practically speaking, the brain begins moving faster than the skull around it, and the tearing of various brain structures can result.
This injury is particularly common in high-speed car impacts. The symptoms of a diffuse axonal often involve headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, fatigue and, in extreme circumstances, loss of consciousness.
A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the brain undergoes a ricochet effect inside the skull, causing the brain to bounce off both sides of the skull. This is one of the most violent forms of head injury and is often the result of a rollover or a particularly violent collision. The distinguishing feature of a coup-contrecoup injury is that both sides of the brain are damaged due to the bilateral impact.
The symptoms of a coup-contrecoup injury are extensive and often include brain bleeding or swelling, loss of consciousness, headaches, seizures, dizziness, confusion, tinnitus, memory loss and disrupted vision or speech.
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Did you suffer a brain injury after a car accident?
If you have been involved in a vehicular accident and believe that you may have a traumatic brain injury, the most important thing to do is seek medical care immediately. Just because you felt uninjured or did not have any symptoms immediately following the accident should not impact your decision to seek help if symptoms develop later. TBI symptoms often develop and change over time, and new symptoms can emerge even weeks after the initial impact.
Some of the short-term impacts of brain injuries can involve:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Emotional disturbance
- Cognitive and memory loss
- Difficulty focusing
- Personality and behavioral changes
However, long-term effects can emerge months or even years following an accident, including:
- Intolerance of noise, excitement or crowds
- Cognitive decline or depression
- Reduced memory and focus
- Disruption of sleep
- Personality change
- PTSD, anxiety or panic disorder
In other words, you should never second-guess yourself if you think you might have a brain injury. A full medical examination is the only way to know for sure if you may have ongoing complications. There are numerous treatment methods to alleviate symptoms, including reducing swelling and developing cognitive coping mechanisms. However, you should be prepared for the possibility that full function will never return.
When to speak to a Montana auto accident lawyer
After seeking the help of a doctor, you should seek legal advice from an experienced Montana injury lawyer who specializes in automobile accidents and personal injury cases. The liability of the parties involved in a traffic accident can be difficult to ascertain. Thus, even if you believe you were at fault or have been told you were at fault, that may not preclude you from being entitled to damages.
The medical bills, emotional and physical suffering and the diminished capacity of a brain injury can become extremely difficult to recover from financially. That is why it is so important to speak to the right lawyer to make sure that you receive the entirety of the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one suffered a head injury following a car accident in Montana, contact the Murphy Law Firm. We’re skilled at helping victims receive the compensation they deserve.