Brain injuries are a tragically common effect of car accidents. In fact, the CDC estimates that roughly 1 in 7 brain injuries nationwide come from car accidents. And these injuries can be devastating for both the victim themselves and their families, often changing their day to day life for years to come.
However, there are many different types of brain injuries, and not all will affect the victim in the same way. In over 20 years of practice helping car accident victims, we have seen firsthand which injuries come up most often. And there are five specific brain injuries that car accidents tend to cause.
The 5 Types of Brain Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
You will often hear the phrase traumatic brain injury (TBI) thrown around as a catch-all. While this is accurate, the fact is the most brain injuries are TBIs. And, while there is a system for categorizing how severe TBIs are, they tend to have very different effects depending on exactly what caused them.
As a result, we find it more useful to classify brain injuries based on the specific damage or injury suffered. The five types of brain injuries we see in car accidents are:
- Concussions Concussions are the most common brain injuries in car accident cases. A concussion can happen from any sudden trauma to the head, even whiplash. There does not have to be an actual blow to the head to cause one. Concussion victims don’t always show outward symptoms right away, which leads some people to consider these injuries “mild.” They aren’t. Concussions can lead to swelling that causes further injury to the brain, or may cause long-term problems on their own.
- Cerebral contusions Contusions are bruises on the brain. And bruises anywhere on the body are essentially the same thing: tiny hemorrhages of lots of blood vessels all in the same area. In the brain, that comes with serious issues, including swelling and leaking of blood into the brain itself. These often require surgery to remove, in order to protect the brain from additional harm. Brain contusions come from a direct blow to the head by another object, such as hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, or a seat in front of you.
- Penetration injuries Penetration means that an outside object broke through the skull and hit the brain directly. In the ER, these are usually seen in shootings and other types of assaults, but in rare cases they happen in car accidents as well. They are somewhat more common in motorcycle accidents because the victim may be thrown off the bike and land on a dangerous surface. Tragically, penetration injuries are often fatal. Even when they’re not, they require rapid emergency care and usually surgery to survive.
- Diffuse axonal brain injuries These injuries occur when the head is suddenly rotated or shaken at a high speed. A classic example in a car accident is a person looking to the side or toward the rear-view mirror as the impact occurs, causing the head to rotate while snapping forward. These injuries are called “diffuse” because they do not affect just one area of the brain—the entire brain, or large regions of it, is damaged from the sudden motion.
- “Coup-contrecoup” brain injuries This is a French term that means roughly “hit/counter-hit.” It is a very dangerous type of brain injury that affects completely opposite sides of the brain. Imagine, for example, that a person is hit in the back of the head by something moving very fast. That object will injure the back of the brain, but it will also throw the head forward. If that forward motion is strong enough, the front of the brain will also get injured as it’s forced up against the front of the skull. In a car accident, conditions have to be just right for this to happen. But it can occur in very high velocity accidents or accidents where the head is physically hit by something.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer Who Understands Brain Injuries
Our law group exists to serve one mission: help those were injured. We have over two decades of experience working with brain injury victims and their families. We know from personal experience what you are going through, and we want to help you through a difficult and frightening time.
Let us give you a free consultation. We offer some of the top car accident lawyers in Georgia, and we charge nothing if we don’t recover money for you. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.