Motor Vehicle Accidents and TBI
As noted in our prior post, falls are the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The other major causes of TBI are motor vehicle crashes and sports injuries. In this post, we take a look at the TBI’s that often occur in vehicle crashes. Although many motor vehicles, particularly passenger vehicles, have more safety features than ever before, passenger cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks and buses traverse our roads together and when they collide, very serious crash injuries can occur, including brain injuries. Even in pedestrian accidents which are on the rise, brain injury can occur. Despite air bags, collision warning systems and other advancements in vehicle technologies, serious and fatal accidents continue to be a major health problem in our country.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have published studies involving the impact of all causes, including motor vehicle crashes, in which TBI has become the so-called “silent epidemic.” The CDC has estimated that about 1.7 million TBI’s occur annually. Over 50,000 of these injuries are ultimately fatal. A more chilling statistic is that across the population, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of TBI about 18 percent, but the highest percentage of TBI fatalities over 30%. The overall cost of these injuries is estimated to be about $60 billion.
For those who survive these injuries, they are called “silent” due to the fact that victims may have many long term symptoms that can include things like changes in cognition, emotion and even sensation. We have learned a great deal about TBI in the past few years. We know that even what might be called “mild traumatic brain injury.” can lead to serious symptoms and disruption of victim’s lives.
Types of Crash Related TBI’s
There are several types of TBI that occur in motor vehicle accidents. One serious type of injury is called diffuse axonal injury or DAI. This can occur in traffic accidents due to the “high energy trauma” that can occur in an accident involving speed or high impact. These injuries which affect microscopic tissues in the brain are often associated with the victim becoming unconscious with a resulting coma which can be devastating. If a victim is able to survive this acute stage of their injury, their lives can be altered in significant ways. After the initial trauma, some patients are able to recover some functioning since the brain, like other parts of our bodies, are often able to stabilize as the brain essentially reconnects itself as neural connections recover when the brain tissue is not destroyed, but is rather damaged.
In vehicle crashes, the brain can be harmed in several other ways such as a hematoma or swelling after an impact or even a skull fracture if the victim’s head strikes a part of the vehicle, such as the steering wheel or the windshield. Wearing a seat belt can help avoid these injuries in a car crash.
Even after a rear-end collision which might involve a whip lash type injury, a driver or passenger in the struck vehicle can suffer a head injury. Even striking the head rest in a forward and backward motion, the common whip lash scenario, can result in a strong enough impact to cause harm.
The danger in these situations is that the victim may seem completely normal and then suddenly present symptoms when there is a brain bleed or epidural hemorrhage occurs in which pressure ultimately builds and causes damage or can become fatal. Mild traumatic brain injury, such as a mild concussion, can actually lead to long term symptoms. These can include headache, dizziness, disorientation and many other symptoms that can impact the victim’s well-being and ability to work or function normally for at least some period of time.
Getting Legal Help After TBI
That is why as brain injury lawyers, Scholle Law advises that if you are involved in an accident in which your head is struck, but you seem to be fine and even if your injuries seem mild, visit an emergency room to ensure that nothing is happening in your body that could be harmful, but silent.
If you or a family member have suffered a brain injury from a fall, a vehicle crash, a sports injury or otherwise, please contact our law firm so that you can learn about the ways that the law can support your recovery. We will evaluate your accident at no cost and let you know if you have a case against those who caused you harm, such as another driver.