How Car Accidents Lead to Traumatic Brain InjuriesCar accidents cause many different types of catastrophic and serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and head trauma. The faster the cars involved in a crash are traveling and the more direct the impact, the more likely a driver, passenger, or anyone outside the vehicle is to suffer a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Other contributing factors include how the vehicles collided, whether the victims use seatbelts, whether the airbags work, and whether the victim is ejected from the car.

What is a brain injury?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, traumatic brain injuries are assessed based on whether there was any loss of consciousness, through diagnostic imaging tests, the use of various cognitive tests, and other factors. The assessment may be that an accident victim has a mild, moderate, or severe TBI.

Some of the signs a victim has a TBI include:

  • Memory difficulties and confusion
  • Behavioral changes
  • Concussions
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Light and smell sensitivity
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Slurred speech

Diagnostic tests for a TBI include a neurological evaluation that examines the patient’s motor function, sensory functions, memory, and thinking. Imaging tests include CT scans and MRIs. Some blood tests that look for proteins in the blood can also help.

Surgery may often be required to treat the bleeding and swelling. Many victims who have severe TBIs often need a lifetime of physical, occupational, speech, psychological, and cognitive therapy. For many TBI victims, their lives are never remotely the same as they were before the car accident.

How do car occupants strike their heads in a car accident?

The people in a car include the driver, the front-seat passengers, and the passengers in the rear seats. Depending on their position in the car when a car strikes another car, another object, or veers off the road, the occupants may strike their head on:

  • The windshield or side windows
  • A dashboard
  • A steering wheel
  • A door
  • The roof of the car, if the car rolls over
  • Another passenger
  • The ground, another vehicle, a tree, or anything else outside the car if the driver or passenger is ejected from the car

Airbags can also cause head trauma – which is one reason children should ride in the rear of the vehicle because their smaller size and weight make an airbag head injury more likely.

Head trauma may also occur if broken glass penetrates the skull.

There doesn’t even have to be a forceful impact with another object or person for an injury to occur. The shaking of the head back and forth, such as with whiplash, can cause a TBI. TBIs due to the violent movement of the head are called coup and contrecoup injuries. In a coup injury, while the body stops moving, the brain continues to move and collides with the skull. A contrecoup injury involves the ricochet reaction when the brain rebounds and strikes the other side of the skull.

Sometimes, the initial brain injury (whether due to impact or excessive movement) causes victims to suffer secondary brain injuries days or weeks after the primary brain injury. Secondary injuries may cause bleeding in the brain and other types of serious, and possibly fatal, injuries.

How do different types of car accidents cause traumatic brain injuries?

How the accident happens affects how the occupants of the car move, and thus how a TBI can occur:

  • Rear-end accidents. In this type of car accident, the heads of the occupants in the car that is struck from behind rapidly move forward and backward. In addition to severe neck pain, the head movement can cause the brain to move within the skull.
  • Head-on accidents. Here, the fronts of two vehicles collide with each other – often because one car is headed in the wrong direction. The heads of the passengers can strike the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, or just move back and forth, causing TBIs, including coup-contrecoup TBIs.
  • T-bone or side-impact accidents. These car crashes, such as when the front of one car strikes the side of another car in an intersection accident, can force the head to the front or the side depending on the point of impact. The glass from broken windows can penetrate an occupant’s skull.
  • Rollover accidents. Cars that take turns too fast can roll over. Cars with low centers of gravity or cars that strike each other in just the wrong way can flip over. When cars roll over, even occupants who are wearing seatbelts can strike the roof of the car. Rollover accidents often cause severe TBIs due to the direct impact between the top of the skull and the roof.

If a car strikes a motorcycle rider or a pedestrian, the odds of a TBI are quite high because the motorcycle and ground provide no physical protection. Motorcycle riders who aren’t wearing helmets and pedestrians who strike the ground or the car that caused the accident are likely to suffer very serious injuries. While helmets often save lives, they may not prevent a TBI.

Many TBI car accident victims in Sevierville also suffer concussions, penetrating head injuries, and diffuse axonal injuries.

Even minor car crashes at low speeds can cause traumatic brain injuries. High-speed car accidents and high-impact car accidents are especially likely to cause a TBI. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our Sevierville car accident lawyers are skilled at showing how your accident happened and why the driver of the car or truck that struck you should be held responsible. We work with your doctors and our network of doctors to verify your traumatic brain injury, explain what medical care you’ll need, detail the cost of that care, and show just how different your life will be because of the TBI.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a TBI due to a car accident, please call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have an impressive record of settlements and verdicts in personal injury cases. We represent car accident victims and families in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee areas.