How Can I Tell if a Head Injury From a Car Accident Is Mild or Severe?

a car driving down a road in rhode island

Have you suffered a car accident head injury? You’re not alone. Head injuries are some of the most common injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes. 

If the injury affects the brain’s structure or function, doctors usually refer to it as a brain injury or traumatic brain injury. A traumatic injury is any sudden bodily harm that requires urgent medical attention. 

Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe. Knowing your brain injury’s severity is essential to your recovery, but evaluating your symptoms is difficult. Even seemingly mild symptoms can feel debilitating. Meanwhile, severe injuries can initially feel mild but worsen over time.

When you’ve suffered a car accident head injury, a doctor can diagnose the severity of the injury and determine a treatment plan. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush in Rhode Island are here to help you understand your legal options and offset the costs of your recovery.

If your injury results from someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, we can help you pursue compensation. Legal action has enabled numerous head injury victims to receive the damages they deserve, whether their injuries are mild or severe.

Mild Head Injury Symptoms

A mild traumatic brain injury, also called a concussion, is the most common form of head injury. Doctors call these injuries “mild” because they are rarely life-threatening, but symptoms can be debilitating.

A mild head injury results either from a blow directly to the head or one to the body that causes sudden head movement.

For example, suppose another driver rear-ends you, and your body lurches forward. Your head snaps forward and back but doesn’t hit the dashboard or steering wheel. Even though there was no contact, you could have suffered a head injury due to your brain shifting or sliding inside your skull.

If you suffer a mild head injury in a car accident, your symptoms may include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Blurry vision
  • Heightened sensitivity to sound or light
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Mild confusion
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Mental fog or grogginess
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you have been in a car accident and have experienced any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a doctor. Be watchful for symptoms that get worse or change.

Moderate to Severe Head Injury Symptoms

Car accidents also cause life-threatening head injuries that fall into the clinical categories of “moderate” and “severe.” Moderate and severe head injuries usually result from bumps, blows, jolts, or penetrations. Falls, firearm-related incidents, and car crashes are common ways people sustain these types of injuries in the U.S. 

More severe traumatic brain injuries cause symptoms such as:

  • Ongoing or worsening headache
  • Loss of consciousness, lasting from a few minutes to several hours
  • Inability to wake up
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation (widening) of one or both pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms, hands, feet, or legs
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Fluid drainage from the ears or nose

These symptoms require immediate medical attention. The types of injuries that produce these symptoms can cause severe and long-term damage, even death.

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury reduces a patient’s life expectancy by an average of nine years, increasing the risk of death from causes such as infections and seizures. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57 percent of those who survive a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury live with profound disabilities. In addition, more than half lose the ability to work, and a third rely on daily assistance.

Common Head Injuries From Car Accidents

Head trauma from a car accident can range from mild to severe, depending on the type and degree of damage. Common types of head injuries include:

  • Concussions: Mild traumatic brain injuries
  • Contusions: Bruises on the brain
  • Skull fractures: Breaks in the cranium. sometimes with cuts in the scalp or damage to the underlying brain tissue
  • Hematomas: Slow brain bleeding that leads to bruising or clotting, which can build up and cause dangerous pressure that interrupts brain function
  • Intracranial hemorrhages: Uncontrolled bleeding inside the brain
  • Diffuse axonal injuries: Tearing of the axons, the fibers that carry messages throughout the brain

Brain injuries may be closed or penetrating. A penetrating injury breaks the skull, while a closed brain injury does not.

When To Seek Medical Attention

It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately after a car accident, even if you aren’t experiencing severe symptoms. This is because some brain injuries cause bleeding inside the skull and blood clots, possibly leading to permanent brain tissue damage, hematomas, hemorrhages, and even death.

Early diagnosis helps doctors to treat your car accident head injury. Timely treatment may reduce your chances of long-term disability or death.

By seeking medical attention, your establish a paper trail of medical records for your head injury. These records can help build your case if you decide to take legal action against a negligent party.

How Doctors Diagnose Head Injuries After a Car Accident

When you suffer a head injury in a car accident, a doctor must examine you to determine whether you have a traumatic brain injury. The process starts with a physical examination and interview. 

Expect the doctor to ask about the incident and your symptoms. They will also conduct a neurological exam to assess your:

  • Cognition
  • Coordination
  • Reflexes
  • Motor functions
  • Sensory capacity — especially sight and hearing

The doctor will ask you to perform basic tasks to evaluate these functions. They will then determine whether to conduct other diagnostic tests, which may include:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging tests
  • Electroencephalogram heart rhythm tests
  • Blood tests

Blood testing enables your doctor to identify chemical changes resulting from brain damage. Recent research also suggests that some blood testing can predict outcome severity.

Imaging tests allow doctors to identify brain bleeds and clotting, both requiring immediate surgery or medical intervention. 

Damages to Claim in a Car Accident Head Injury Lawsuit

If you’ve suffered a head injury in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you have the right to pursue compensation.

Living with a traumatic brain injury can be very expensive. For example, people with a traumatic brain injury history are 66 percent more likely to receive disability or welfare payments, and approximately 43 percent of patients hospitalized with traumatic brain injury develop an injury-related long-term disability. 

Many patients face lifetime costs ranging from $85,000 to $3 million. These include expenses such as:

  • Immediate medical treatment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Short-term or long-term unemployment

Traumatic brain injury patients are also susceptible to emotional pain and suffering. In one study, 29 percent of patients with mild traumatic brain injury had moderate to severe depression, and 29 percent had severe anxiety. People with depression, anxiety, and other emotional changes often face additional recovery costs and have a reduced quality of life. 

Many people with accident-induced traumatic brain injuries can recover compensation for tangible and non-tangible damages, including emotional pain and suffering. Compensation can offset the costs related to your traumatic brain injury and help you focus on your recovery.

Contact an Expert Car Accident Lawyer Today

After you seek medical attention for your head injury, the next step is to contact a car accident lawyer. Marasco & Nesselbush’s expert lawyers have represented clients in car accident cases for more than 24 years. 

While you focus on your health and getting your life back, our skilled attorneys fight to get you the money you deserve. We’ve recovered millions in damages from negligent drivers, including a $4.5 million settlement for a car accident victim with a traumatic brain injury.

If you believe you may have a traumatic brain injury case, call us or submit the form on our contact page. We’ll set up a free consultation and help you decide what to do next.

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