What To Do if You've Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a Car Accident
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are serious. Nationwide, they result in approximately 288,000 hospitalizations, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Motor vehicles are among the leading causes of TBI each year. If you or a loved one suffers symptoms of a TBI after a car crash, you should call Lichtenstein Law Group, PLC, to learn about your legal rights and your potential options for recovering compensation.
How Car Accidents Can Lead to a Brain Injury
In a car accident, vehicle occupants are shaken back and forth. They are also jostled about inside the vehicle compartment. As a result, they often suffer these types of brain injuries:
- Blunt force trauma – A striking force can result in physical injuries to the brain. These types of blunt force trauma injuries happen when people strike their heads on windows, side panels, steering wheels, and other objects in the vehicle. When the skull strikes an object, the brain may violently impact the inside of the skull, leading to brain bleeds, hematomas, and fissures to the structure of the brain. Many car accident victims suffer concussions as a result of the trauma.
- Diffuse axonal injury – Diffuse axonal injury is a common form of TBI that happens when the white matter of the brain suffers damage. White matter is made up of millions of microscopic axons. These axons carry electrical impulses throughout the brain and have a major effect on cognition, motor skills and nearly every aspect of human function. When axons are stretched, torn or otherwise damaged, messages can be miscommunicated in the brain. Car accidents are one of the most common ways this type of brain damage can happen, and it doesn’t even require the head to strike any objects. Often, just the brain striking the inside of the skull (as with a rapid shaking action) can be enough to cause injury.
- Coup contrecoup – This type of injury is often called “shaken baby” syndrome. In a coup contrecoup injury, the brain is injured at both the site of impact and the opposite side of the brain due to the back and forth action. In severe cases of whiplash and rear-end crashes, people often suffer from these injuries for weeks or months without realizing it. Without appropriate diagnostic imaging, it can be very difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Brain Injuries
Depending on the severity of the traumatic brain injury, a person may notice a wide range of symptoms. After a car accident, you should look for signs of TBI such as:
- Temporary memory lapses
- Short-term cognitive deficits
- Vision abnormalities
- Tinnitus (ears ringing)
- Speech difficulties
- Emotional changes
- Mood changes
- Sleep disturbances.
In severe cases, loss of consciousness can be extended. For instance, some victims may notice changes to motor function, balance and gait. After a motor vehicle accident, it is important to be upfront and forthcoming with your doctor and discuss any symptoms you may have. Even if you are not sure if a symptom is related or relevant, you should still mention it. Sometimes, the symptoms of TBI can be latent, meaning they may not show up right away. Discussing your symptoms as early as you notice them will ensure that your doctor can get you to the right specialists for treatment.
Steps to Take If You Suffer TBI in a Car Accident
If you are in a car accident, and you begin to notice symptoms of head injury or TBI, here are several things you need to do right away:
- Get medical attention – As we indicated above, the sooner you get medical attention, the better off you will be in the long run. See your primary care physician and discuss your symptoms. Ask if you may need to see a neurologist or other specialist.
- Notify your attorney – If you have serious injuries such as TBI after a car crash, you should definitely speak to an attorney as early as possible. By working with an experienced car accident lawyer in Charlottesville or Roanoke, you will give yourself a distinct advantage. If you have difficulty finding the right medical specialist, our team at Lichtenstein Law Group, PLC, can help you to find the medical care you need.
- Document your symptoms – Because car accident brain injury symptoms can come and go and fluctuate in severity, it is important to keep track of them. Plus, memory loss and confusion can make details difficult to recall if you are put on the spot to answer questions. Keeping a journal of TBI symptoms can also be helpful to a health care provider who is trying to diagnose and treat your injuries.
Why You Should Seek Legal Representation as Soon as Possible
For many reasons, you should seek legal representation after a car accident. First, your symptoms may get worse, leaving you with complications and more. An attorney can help connect you with medical providers who often help accident victims who suffer from injuries such as TBI.
Also, TBI is an “invisible injury.” The casual observer can’t see it. For this reason, many insurance companies will try to deny the injury, or they will claim that it is not as severe as an injury victim says it is. An insurance company may also argue that the TBI was pre-existing or deny that it is related to the accident. The sooner you have an attorney on your side, the sooner you can gather evidence that will reveal the cause of your TBI and the identity of all of those who should be held responsible for it.
Insurance companies know that when you are represented by an experienced Virginia injury attorney from Lichtenstein Law Group, PLC, you have more options. If the insurance company is not willing to treat you fairly, they run the risk of having a lawsuit filed against their insured driver and going to trial. We can give you significantly more leverage than you would otherwise have if you tried to deal with the insurance company on your own.
To speak with a lawyer from our firm, call or reach us online. Our consultations are free. We also will never charge attorney fees unless and until we obtain compensation for you.