Accident-related brain injuries and your legal rights
It's a familiar story: you're driving in your car, and you stop at a stoplight. Suddenly, you are rear-ended by another car. Here's what can happen to you under such circumstances, especially if you aren't wearing a seat belt.
First, the head will snap forward due to the laws of motion and momentum. It will be abruptly stopped by an airbag or some other object with which it impacts, or simply because the seat belt does its work and prevents the body from flying forward too far. Then there is a "contrecoup" motion, the snapping back of the head. This results in the brain sloshing first to the front of the head, and then the back, possibly bruising itself twice.
There is a popular misconception among many people that TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) cause an immediate loss of consciousness. In fact, this is untrue. It's quite possible to sustain a TBI without losing consciousness.
This is why it's important to get a competent physician as soon as possible after your accident. Symptoms of brain injuries may take a certain amount of time to make themselves apparent. The sooner you get a competent doctor's diagnosis, the easier it will be to build a civil case.
What is a TBI?
A traumatic brain injury is medically defined as damage to the tissues of the brain by external forces, which consists of at least one of the following symptoms: (A) a loss of consciousness, however temporary, (B) amnesia (meaning the person cannot recall the event), or (C) skull fractures, seizures, or abnormal brain scans.
What causes TBI?
The CDC collected brain injury data between 2002 and 2006 and found that the foremost cause of brain injuries was falls, at 35% of the total. Car crashes made up 17% of the total. Car crashes were found to be the most common cause of moderate to severe brain injuries (ones which necessitate the victim being admitted to a neurological intensive care unit).
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control conducted a study in 2006, which showed that 1.4 million Americans received traumatic brain injuries on an annual basis. Of that number, well over a quarter of a million (280,000) people received a TBI in a motor vehicle accident.
Symptoms of TBI
The brain consists of roughly three pounds of soft, porous tissue suspended in cerebrospinal fluid within the skull cavity. The brain is protected by three layers of membranes, meaning that it is immune, to some degree, to sudden jolts or impacts. If the impact is strong enough, however, the brain's defenses will be overwhelmed and the organ will slosh around inside the skull, bruising itself against the walls of its prison. This can lead to brain bruising, hemorrhaging, and damage to the axons and neurons of the brain cells. A violent impact (such a car accident) can also cause something called DAI, or diffuse axonal injury, which is a whole-brain injury caused by the stretching of the brain fibers during impact. This frequently results in a loss of consciousness and a loss of function in the brain, as a DAI may pull, stretch, or even tear the neurons (the brain's individual cells) and axons (the fibers connecting the neurons and allowing them to communicate with each other). If these brain components are damaged, they will die, and the person may suffer permanent brain damage. This type of TBI is difficult to detect on brain scans.
Even days after the accident, secondary injuries may develop: fatigue, weakness, loss of concentration or memory, learning problems, hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, sensitivity to light or sound, sleeping difficulty, confusion, disorientation, even fainting and/or seizures. These are typically the result of the brain's blood vessels being torn or damaged and the brain not receiving the oxygen it needs.
It's important to remember that even low-speed accidents can cause life-altering and debilitating brain injuries. If you or someone you care about has been involved in an accident and has sustained a brain injury, you need to get in touch with a competent brain injury attorney and protect your legal rights.
Why You Should Hire a Brain Injury Lawyer
There are a number of reasons to hire a competent brain injury lawyer if you've been involved in an accident and sustained a TBI or even a mild traumatic brain injury (MBTI). While the CDC has found that brain injuries (even mild ones) can have long-lasting and drastic consequences for injured persons, insurance companies will nonetheless attempt to deny your claim. Brain injuries often require years of treatment, and this can be very costly for insurance companies. In particular, insurance companies often refuse to pay settlements to anyone who did not lose consciousness while receiving a brain injury. But as we've seen, even traumatic brain injuries may not result in a loss of consciousness. You should give serious consideration to hiring an aggressive, experienced brain injury attorney to help you seek justice for the life-changing damage and inconvenience caused you.
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Injured in an automobile accident?
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TBIs and MTBIs are no joking matter: if you've been in an accident recently and have displayed any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should get in touch with a brain injury lawyer. These injuries can cause lifelong complications and drastically alter individuals' lifestyles. We fight for victims' rights in Decatur, Huntsville, and all across Alabama and Tennessee. Call us today at 256.355.3311 for a free consultation