doctors reviewing brain mriIf you were hurt in an automobile accident, you might be facing a long road to recovery. Car crashes are, after all, a surprisingly common source of injuries, from cuts and scrapes to broken bones and burns. While a fracture may heal in a matter of months, other injuries have the potential to be life-altering. Head and brain injuries can be particularly debilitating, no matter their severity.

Car Accidents and Brain Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.7 million Americans suffer traumatic head and brain injuries each year. Of these 1.7 million injuries, at least 17.3% are sustained in car accidents. This is because car crashes are especially violent events. Even a low-speed impact can subject the human body to forces it simply was not designed to withstand.

Head injuries usually come in one of two forms:

  • Open injuries, when the head or skull is penetrated by a foreign object, such as metal, glass, or a car part. An open head injury can expose the brain, causing permanent damage and disability.
  • Closed injuries, which occur within the skull and do not always present immediate physical signs of harm. A closed head injury can be as mild as a low-grade concussion. However, closed head injuries can also lead to permanent disability.

While open head injuries are often easier to diagnose than closed head injuries, neither is necessarily more severe than the other.

Common Types of Head and Brain Injury

Car accidents can be responsible for many types of head and brain injuries. Common types include:

  • Concussions. These are among the most common brain injuries identified after car crashes. Concussions are caused by the force of impact or sudden, violent changes in movement. An untreated concussion can lead to severe and even permanent damage. 
  • Diffuse axonal. Similar to common concussions, diffuse axonal injuries are caused by blunt trauma to the brain. However, diffuse axonal injuries are characterized by the physical tearing of the brain structure. People who suffer diffuse axonal injuries frequently never recover from their injuries and may require life-long care.
  • Contusions. Sometimes, in an accident, the brain can get bruised. If the contusions are severe enough, they made require surgical intervention. Left alone, contusions can cause blood clots and lead to cognitive problems, such as difficulty speaking or impaired memory. When contusions are found on both sides of the brain, they are called coup-contrecoup injuries.
  • Acquired. Not all injuries are caused by impact. Blood loss, chest complications, and other physical stresses following an accident can deprive the brain of blood and oxygen. While acquired injuries are often treatable, they demand rapid medical interventions.

Some car accident brain and head injuries, like concussions, can resolve on their own. However, other injuries have the potential to be catastrophic.

Living With a Brain Injury

An accident can disrupt a person’s life in many different ways. However, most crashes are—if nothing else—costly. Even a low-grade concussion might demand a brief stay in the hospital and time away from work. You might be responsible for the costs of treatment, including:

  • Procedures such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs
  • Prescription medication
  • Specialist appointments
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Cognitive therapy

You may also have to miss work for days, weeks, or months. If your injuries are very severe, you may never be able to return to your profession, putting your career and retirement goals in jeopardy. You may never regain full control of your motor functions and may suffer from impaired cognition. In a worst-case scenario, you may not be able to live independently, forcing your family to pay for in-home medical help or an assisted living facility.

The financial strain of a head or brain injury can drive even upper-income families into serious debt.

What to do After a Serious Head or Brain Injury

Whenever you are involved in an automobile accident, you should always try to take two critical steps:

People who retain an experienced Missouri car crash attorney obtain better settlements than those who try to negotiate with an insurer on their own. The Law Office of Layton & Southard can help secure damages for all the injuries you suffered, including:

  • The costs of past, present, and future medical treatment
  • Any income you lost from work while in recovery
  • Any income you may lose from work while continuing to recover
  • Lost earning potential due to severe injury or disability
  • Disability, such as paralysis or impaired cognition
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Since Missouri does not cap possible damages in traumatic head and brain injury claims, the Law Office of Layton & Southard may consult medical experts to calculate the financial value of your claim, ensuring you have the best chance at the best recovery possible.

Megan D. Andrews
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