Crash and collisions that result in a brain injury or a concussion are more complex and require experienced representation
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health concern in the United States that results in death and disability for thousands of people each year. Statistics show that from 2006 to 2014, the number of TBI-related emergency room department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths increased by 53 percent. In 2014, an average of 155 people in the United States died each day from injuries that include a TBI.
The effects of a TBI on an individual can last anywhere from a few days to the rest of their lives. Short and long-term effects of TBI may include cognitive impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, sensation such as vision and hearing and emotional functioning such as personality changes and depression.
Auto accidents are one of the most common causes of TBI, both here in Georgia and nationwide. Motor vehicle crashes and slip and falls are the leading causes of all TBI-related hospitalizations for adults, teens and children.
Whether you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident or another tragic incident, continue reading to learn more about TBI and contact Scholle Law for your free TBI case consultation.
In this article, we are going to focus on the automobile accident-related TBIs.
What is a TBI?
A traumatic brain injury can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to one’s head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI occurs when forces on the head cause the brain to shake within the skull. These forces result in chemical changes that interfere with the brain’s normal functioning and may result in changes in alertness, a loss of consciousness, amnesia, or a list of other symptoms.
You may not be diagnosed with TBI, even if you suffered a head injury. TBI’s are rated from “mild” (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (extended time of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury). A mild TBI is also referred to as a concussion.
Crashes are among the most common causes of a TBI
According to the CDC, falls and motor vehicle accidents are the first and second leading causes of all TBI related hospitalizations. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death for persons 15-24, 25-34, and older adults aged over 75 years old.
Here at Scholle Law, we’ve represented a number of clients who suffered traumatic brain injuries in violent collisions and crashes:
- In one auto crash case, we secured a $5,500,000 settlement for a Gwinnett County resident who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a T-bone accident, suffering brain damage and multiple fractures.
- When a Gwinnett woman suffered fractured ribs and a traumatic brain injury as a result of another driver running a traffic signal, we were able to settle the case at her policy limits—$200,000.
- We won $140,000 for a husband and wife from Catoosa County involved in a head-on collision. They suffered multiple fractures to their arms, legs, feet and face. The husband also suffered a traumatic brain injury.
- A Gwinnett County teen suffered a brain injury when he fell off a vehicle on which he was riding. We made sure the client received a policy limits settlement of $150,000.
Other common causes of TBI include sport-related accidents, being struck by an object and explosions.
Car accident head injury symptoms
Following an accident, your adrenaline might be so high that you may not realize you are injured right away. And even though a concussion does not show up on the CT scan, you may still have one. Some insurance companies balk at brain injury claims due to the fact that TBI’s are often not listed on the police accident report because they aren’t diagnosed until later.
In the minutes, hours, days and weeks following a crash, you should be vigilant in checking yourself for signs of traumatic brain injury—and seek medical care as soon as possible if necessary.
Some of the most common symptoms of TBI (as listed by the CDC) include:
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Feeling slowed down
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Headache, fuzzy or blurry vision
- Nausea or vomiting (early on)
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Balance problems
- Feeling tired, having no energy
- More emotional
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sleeping more than usual
- Sleep less than usual
- Trouble falling asleep
It is not unusual to overlook the symptoms of a TBI at first. Sometimes, it’s when you resume your usual daily activities that you notice that something is wrong. Perhaps, someone else noticed a change in you that you were not aware of. A person may look fine on the outside but will start acting or feeling differently.
You should always see a medical professional if you suspect or know that you suffered a concussion in a crash. The health care professional will determine if you need to be referred for more testing or treatment. Studies show that getting help from a trained professional soon after the injury can improve recovery.
When to seek prompt medical attention as an adult
Many of the signs of TBI can be similar to other conditions, or a person suffering from TBI may not experience many of these symptoms at all. Every case is different. However, if you or a loved one experience any of the following conditions, you should see your doctor as soon as possible:
- Headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Very drowsy or cannot wake up
- One pupil is larger than the other
- Convulsions or seizures
- Cannot recognize people or places
- Getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated
- Unusual behavior
- Lose consciousness
Signs of danger in children
In addition to having any of the danger signs for adults listed above, look for these symptoms to identify possible TBI in children:
- Will not stop crying and are inconsolable
- Will not nurse or eat
What happens when you see a healthcare professional?
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a CT scan to determine whether or not you suffered TBI. Even if the concussion does not show up on the CT scan, you may still be diagnosed with a TBI.
You may also have to undergo neuropsychological or neurocognitive tests of your learning, memory concentration and problem-solving to determine the extent of your injury.
Life changes as a result of a TBI
If tests confirm that you indeed suffered a traumatic brain injury following your accident, you can expect to undergo both long and short-term life changes as a result of a TBI. Since you likely will experience headaches, difficulty concentrating and increased agitation, you may need to either curtail or reduce some of your normal activities of daily living. Most physicians will tell you not to make any big decisions during this time.
Rest is key to recovery from a TBI. Try to get more sleep. You might need to reduce the time spent doing many of the things that you either enjoy or tasks that are necessary for your job. Even seemingly simple activities such as reading, planning, problem solving and other normal activities that we take for granted might become difficult for you.
If you suffer vision loss or imbalance, this will limit certain abilities for a while such as walking without assistance and driving. If you experience changes in your personality, this may affect your relationship with your friends and family.
This is just the tip of the iceberg; there could be other issues. We’ve also heard of cases where an individual had suffered from PTSD in the past, and the TBI brought this back to the forefront. If you’re experiencing something similar, you might have to undergo quite a bit of psychological counseling.
Undoubtedly, your TBI will affect your life, relationships and career, in most cases. Whether it is short term or long term, remember to be patient with yourself and follow your doctor’s treatment and recovery plan.
Recovery and treatment for traumatic brain injuries
Depending on your injury, you may be referred to a vestibular therapist for an exercise-based program to improve balance and reduce dizziness-related problems. You may be referred to a neuro-optometrist for vision-related problems and neurological issues. There are several other rehabilitation specialists that can help you in your rehabilitation following a TBI.
Your recovery timeline will vary. While you can take comfort in knowing that most people do, in fact, recover from an accident-related TBI, every person is different. Your recovery can be affected by the extent of the injury, your overall health, your age, how early the concussion was detected and how well you take care of yourself afterward.
Expert consensus and research data suggest that 70-80 percent of individuals who sustain a concussion will not experience significant difficulties beyond 1 to 3 months.
The best treatment is often rest. Rest helps your brain to heal.
Dealing with an insurance company after an auto accident
Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with in the best of times, but especially after a serious accident. It is in their best financial interest to reduce or deny injury claims. A person with a TBI is in a particularly compromised situation because of the fact that they are usually not thinking clearly due to their injury.
In the case of a crash-related traumatic brain injury, the auto insurance company may initially attempt to deny the claim. For instance, if your head injury is not listed on the police accident report, the insurance company may hire a defense law firm who will find a physician to dispute your diagnosis. Their doctor may state that the injury was not related to the accident or not severe.
The insurance company will likely delve into your medical history and attempt to find a “pre-existing condition,” such as a history of dizziness, depression or a prior incident in which you hit your head. This is why it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, so that you can have the proper testing and documentation to prove the extent of the injury and that it is indeed accident-related.
When to consult an Atlanta car accident attorney
Due to the extreme complexities of a TBI diagnosis and treatment, it is important to contact an experienced law firm to protect your rights and ensure proper compensation for you and your family after an auto accident. Scholle Law has extensive experience working with TBI patients like you to make sure that you are not taken advantage of and are compensated fairly.
Contact us for your free consultation.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Surveillance Report of Traumatic Brain Injury-related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths—United States, 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.