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Suffering Head Injury and Concussions in Car Accident Settlements

head injuries and concussions


Even with seat belts, airbags, and other modern safety features, your head remains highly susceptible to injury after a car accident.

Head injuries can range from a minor bumps and bruises to serious brain damage or worse death [1]. Since most head injuries also involve significant pain and suffering, there is a high chance of you getting a large injury settlement amount.

In this article we’ll discuss all the important things you need to know to maximize your accident claim for a head injury. We’ll discuss...

What Causes Head Injuries?
What are the types of Head Injuries?
What are the Symptoms of These Head Injuries?
What is the Average Head Injury Settlement Process?
Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Let’s get started...

What Causes Head Injuries?

The most common ways head injuries occur is through blunt force trauma, such as with the steering wheel, dashboard or pavement.

However, you don’t need to hit your head or be knocked unconscious in order to suffer a head injury.

In a car accident, the sudden shift in the momentum from the collision can make your brain hit part of your skull to cause damage. You can also suffer a whiplash effect on your neck that can injury to the muscles and nerves in and around your head.

In both cases, you suffered a head injury without making any direct impact.

What are the Types of Head Injuries?

Head injuries from car accidents can be minor or deadly. They can be both “open” and “closed”.

Open refers to an injury where the skull is broken or fractured, closed refers to an injury of the head without the integrity of the skull being impacted.

According to the Brain Injury Alliance, these are some of the most common types of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) [2]:

- Concussion - is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull [3].

Concussions can occur as open or closed head injuries and are the most common ones suffered in car accidents. There is also post-concussive syndrome that affects roughly 10% of people.

- Contusion - is another word for bruise and these happen quite often when an accident happens. They are the result of an impact and if they are external don’t pose a serious threat.

However, contusions to the brain are very serious. Since they can cause internal swelling/bleeding they require immediate medical attention and perhaps surgery.

-Hematomas - by definition a hematoma is a collection of blood outside of a blood vessel, it’s blood leaking out where it does not belong [4].

This is generally caused by damage to a blood vessel due to a direct impact or outside force.

Epidural hematomas are when this process occurs in the skull but on top of the cerebrospinal fluid and away from the brain.

Subdural hematomas occur when this process takes place inside the skull.

- Skull fractures - are when there is a break or fracture to the integrity of your 8 skull bones [5]. There are many varieties of skull fractures ranging from linear to depressed to diastatic. Generally, depressed skull fractures are the most serious as the fracture presses the bones inwards onto the brain.

What are the Symptoms of These Head Injuries?

Every head injury is going to be unique in how it occurs and what symptoms it causes.

There are many different symptoms for both open and closed head injuries. In terms of closed head injuries, the most common symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness/fatigue
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nose bleeds
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion or memory problems
  • Emotional and behavior changes

When it comes to open head injuries there likely won’t be any doubt whether or not an injury has occurred. In these scenarios, the impact was significant enough to penetrate the soft tissue of the head and damage the skull.

Skull fractures are a common form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained from car accidents and in the worst cases, they can lead to dementia, paralysis, loss of body functions, and death.

What is the Average Head Injury Settlement Process?

A brain injury can have a significant and long lasting impact on the quality of your life. As a result, the average settlement amount for head injuries can range anywhere from a few thousands to millions of dollars.

To calculate your settlement amount, your damages are divided in two categories:

Economic damages:

  • Damage to your vehicle
  • Lost wages or earning potential
  • Cost of medical expenses

Non-economic damages:

You may be entitled to compensation for all of the categories above and in some rare cases additional punitive damages.

If both parties in the claim are represented by counsel, your lawyer will negotiate a settlement for you. If not you’ll be on your own to ensure you get a good deal.

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Yes. The process of settling a head injury claim is complex and contentious.

There is no reason not to hire a lawyer. Often winning a case is a prerequisite for a lawyer getting paid, so if they’re willing to take yours this is a good sign for your claim. Most lawyers also offer a free consultations which you can take advantage of.

Hiring an attorney will get an expert on your side who understands the dynamics of head injuries (causes, common types, symptoms), the injury settlement processes, and most importantly the will advocate for your rights.

Summary

Of the 1.7 million Americans who suffer a traumatic brain injuries, every year roughly 18% of them do so because of a car accident [6]. Just remember the following:

  • You can suffer head injuries even when there is no direct impact.
  • Head injuries can be classified as “open” or “closed” injuries
  • The settlement amount will include economic and noneconomic damages
  • Always hire a lawyer for an injury to the head.


Sources:

1- https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html
2-https://biau.org/types-and-levels-of-brain-injury/
3- http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/traumatic-brain-injury-concussion-overview#1
4- http://answers.webmd.com/answers/1178509/what-is-a-hematoma
5- http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/head-injuries-causes-and-treatments#3
6- http://www.brainline.org/content/2008/07/facts-about-traumatic-brain-injury.html


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