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What Damages Can I Recover for a Traumatic Brain Injury Resulting From a Car Accident?

A driver of a car holding her head in pain after a collision between her car and another vehicle.

Traumatic brain injuries are a common result of car accidents. There are still many mysteries about how the brain works and how to repair it, so any damage to the brain is often devastating.

Physical impairments and life-altering mental disruptions leave victims with a completely different lifestyle than the ones they knew. Their families suffer as well because their loved ones may develop a completely different personality or become fully dependent upon others for their self-care, depending on which part of their brains were damaged and how severely.

People who have had their lives changed by a head injury resulting from a car accident that they were not responsible for have the right to receive compensation from whoever was at fault for the accident. Understanding how much compensation a traumatic brain injury victim is entitled to receive is difficult, and the calculations are complex as there are many factors involved.

There may be long-term effects, symptoms that are not apparent until years after the accident, delayed healing, regression, and other unforeseen consequences that need to be considered.

Common Brain Injuries From Car Accidents

The head is most commonly injured by forcefully coming into contact with a hard surface. In a car accident, the hard surface could be anything from the inside of the car to the road itself.

Objects within the car may become projectiles, and even other passengers can be a dangerous point of impact. The skull, face, and eyes are all vulnerable to injury and are usually apparent in their severity.

Damage to the brain is typically invisible as it is an internal organ surrounded by bone. Even people who appear to be fine should be examined by a medical professional to rule out a head injury after a car accident.

According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, approximately 2.5 million Americans experience traumatic brain injuries every year, resulting in almost 55,000 deaths. Acquired brain injury is the second leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting an estimated 13.5 million people.

The most common head injuries are concussions. They are usually classified as mild traumatic brain injuries and, according to Forbes, are caused by a sudden or violent jolt or impact to the head that causes movement of the brain within the skull.

Although concussions are considered to be mild brain injuries, this is because they are not usually life-threatening. All brain injuries should be taken seriously, as even mild concussions can have lasting effects that have a significant impact on the victim’s life.

Most concussions are not observable in brain imaging and are instead diagnosed through a physical examination of the victim and by asking investigative questions. Common symptoms include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Slow Reactions and Responses
  • Memory Problems
  • Sensitivity to Light

Most concussion symptoms fade away within a week or two, leaving the majority of people able to continue with their normal activities as long as they are careful not to have any additional head injuries.

Subsequent brain injuries are more serious as the brain is still recovering from the initial trauma. Suffering another traumatic brain injury while still in recovery can potentially cause chemical changes within the brain that may cause more damage and take closer to a year to resolve.

More than two consecutive concussions often have a compounded effect that results in permanent changes in how the brain functions. Memory problems and cognitive impairments often get worse over time as the chemical changes damage brain cells.

People with repeated concussions have been shown to have a high risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease that causes deterioration of the brain.

Other common head injuries resulting from car accidents include the following:

  • Skull fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Facial disfigurement
  • Damage to vision or hearing
  • Internal bleeding causing brain damage

What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

A traumatic brain injury is a type of acquired brain injury that is caused by something that happens outside the body. For example, an aneurysm is not considered a traumatic brain injury, but a gunshot wound to the head is considered a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injuries occur in a multitude of ways during a car accident. The victim may receive a direct blow to the head, the violent motion caused by the accident could shake the brain within the skull, or an object may penetrate the skull and damage the brain.

Can Whiplash Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Whiplash injuries are typically associated with the neck and occur when the sudden impact in a car accident forcefully moves the body forward and then snaps it back again. The violent motion can cause the brain to move and collide with the skull in multiple directions and cause a concussion, resulting in damaged brain tissue.

How Do Doctors Determine the Severity of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

The severity of a brain injury is initially measured by how long the person was unconscious. The duration of unconsciousness is a good indicator of the severity of the brain injury, but further diagnostic testing will also be done for a more accurate diagnosis.

Traumatic brain injuries are classified in the following categories:

  • Mild – The victim lost consciousness for under 30 minutes or had no loss of consciousness at all. Concussions are included in this category.
  • Moderate – The victim has lost consciousness for more than 30 minutes.
  • Severe – The victim has sustained a loss of consciousness for more than 6 hours. This category includes victims who are in a coma.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Brain injuries have been extensively studied for many years. While researchers are still making discoveries, as much involving the brain is still unknown, there has been increasing evidence showing that even mild brain injuries leave the victim susceptible to long-term symptoms and at higher risk of developing brain disease later in life.

Dementia is the most common brain disease suffered by people who have suffered a brain injury, and the likelihood of development is directly proportional to the number of brain injuries the victim has sustained throughout their lifetime.

People who have had moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries have an even more serious prognosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only approximately 25% of victims of traumatic brain injuries see improvements in their condition after the first five years from the initial injury.

Over half of them either get worse or die from their injuries. The rest of the survivors are left with a high chance of developing infections or pneumonia and may suffer from seizures and shorter lifespans.

How Are Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries From Car Accidents Compensated?

Brain injuries are expensive to treat, and they often affect every part of the victim’s life. Depending on the severity of the injury, victims may be unable to earn a living, or they may be left permanently disabled and need care for the rest of their lives.

Many people experience changes in their behavior and personality that tear apart relationships, leaving the victim isolated and the family broken. Some symptoms may continue to worsen over time, and completely new ones may appear years later.

Victims of car accidents that were completely the fault of someone else are eligible to receive compensation for their losses, such as the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of autonomy

How Long Does It Take To Settle a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim After a Car Accident?

The difficulty in determining the true extent of the damage from a head injury, including long-term developments, makes brain injury claims extremely complex. Insurance companies typically try to settle quickly before the full scope of the injury has become apparent in an attempt to keep their expenses down.

When victims or their family members accept a settlement offer too quickly, they may come to find that it is not enough to cover all of their expenses, and some legitimate damages may be left uncompensated.

In order to determine a fair compensation amount for damages, the full impact of the brain injury must be understood. This knowledge will ensure that the victim will not have to personally pay for damages caused by someone else’s negligence.

Contact Goldblatt & Singer to Recover Damages for a Traumatic Brain Injury From a Car Accident

All possible sources of compensation need to be explored before a settlement offer is even considered. Traumatic brain injuries are serious and potentially life-altering. The experienced brain injury attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer will examine all possible resources and insurance policies.

Some insurance policies have limits on how much the insurance company is required to pay. These limits may be inadequate to cover all the expenses that a brain injury victim may incur as a result of the car accident.

Traumatic brain injuries are very complex car accident injuries to assess for adequate compensation. Victims need the knowledge and experience of the skilled brain injury lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer to ensure that they receive adequate compensation for their injuries.

Contact our team of lawyers right away at (314) 231-4100 for your free consultation.

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