Car accidents can change your life in an instant, especially when they result in severe injuries like traumatic brain injuries (TBI). To put the gravity of this issue into perspective, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 190 Americans died from TBI-related injury – with car accidents standing out as a leading cause.
For residents in Spokane, understanding the profound implications of a brain injury from a Spokane car accident is critical. In this blog, we’ll explore the nature of brain injuries, underscore the importance of timely medical care, and discuss potential compensation avenues if you or a loved one has been injured.
The Intricate Nature of Our Brain
Often referred to as the body’s most vital organ, the brain controls nearly every aspect of our being, from motor functions and cognitive abilities to emotions. Comprising 100 billion neurons and trillions of connections, the brain is also vulnerable to injury, especially during traumatic events like a car accident in Spokane.
While our skull provides a level of protection, the brain is still susceptible to injury when subjected to sudden impact or jolts. An injury might cause the brain to strike the inner part of the skull, leading to potential bleeding or bruising.
The Sobering Reality of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are not to be taken lightly. The most recent statistics available indicate that over 69,000 TBI-related deaths were recorded in the United States. This doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations or the countless TBIs treated in emergency care or left untreated.
Common Brain Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
The forceful nature of car accidents often leads to a high incidence of brain injuries among those involved. A significant proportion of non-fatal TBIs can be attributed to car accidents. The range and intensity of brain injuries stemming from such accidents can greatly differ. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most prevalent brain injuries linked to car accidents:
Car accidents, particularly those involving high speeds or sudden stops, can exert a significant force on the occupants. A sudden deceleration or impact can cause the head to jerk forward or sideways. When this happens, the brain, which is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull, can collide with the inner walls of the skull.
This rapid movement can lead to concussions, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Even in low-impact collisions or “fender benders,” there’s still a risk of sustaining a concussion, especially if the head is struck or if there’s a rapid change in movement.
Direct impact to the head, such as hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, side windows, or even the airbags, can result in a brain contusion. In essence, this means the brain suffers bruising.
The force from the collision can damage small blood vessels in the brain, causing localized bleeding or hematoma. This type of injury might not manifest immediate symptoms but can lead to long-term complications if not diagnosed and treated.
Diffuse Axonal Injuries
Diffuse axonal injuries predominantly arise from high-speed car crashes where rapid acceleration or deceleration occurs. The abrupt change in speed can cause different parts of the brain to move at varied rates, resulting in the shearing or tearing of the brain’s connecting nerve fibers. As these fibers get damaged, communication within the brain gets disrupted, leading to potentially severe consequences.
When a car crash results in a direct blow to the head or a sudden jolt, blood vessels in the brain can rupture. The accumulating blood forms a clot, creating a hematoma. Depending on its size and location, this buildup of blood can exert pressure on the brain, leading to symptoms ranging from headaches and confusion to more severe neurological impairments.
The force from a car collision, especially if debris penetrates the vehicle or if the head hits hard surfaces within the car, can lead to a fracture in the skull. This break can be linear, depressed, diastatic, or basilar, and each type has its potential complications. In addition to protecting the brain from external objects, the skull acts as a barrier against infections. A fracture can compromise this, leaving the brain vulnerable.
Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury
Car accidents, especially those with significant trauma, can lead to situations where the brain doesn’t receive adequate oxygen. This could be due to airway obstructions from injuries, significant blood loss leading to decreased oxygen-carrying capacity, or trauma to the lungs or chest preventing effective oxygenation. Without a consistent supply of oxygen, brain cells begin to die off, leading to hypoxic-ischemic injury.
Swelling or Edema
Following the trauma of a car accident, the body’s natural response might involve inflammation or swelling. In most body parts, swelling can dissipate, but in the brain, confined by the rigid structure of the skull, this isn’t the case.
Swelling in the brain increases intracranial pressure, which can compress and damage delicate brain tissue. If not promptly addressed, this can lead to severe neurological complications.
It’s crucial to note that the brain’s complexity means even seemingly minor injuries can lead to substantial long-term effects. Early diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention are vital in ensuring the best possible outcome after sustaining such injuries in a car accident.
The Importance of Immediate Medical Attention
Car accidents can lead to a surge of adrenaline and shock, often masking the initial pain and symptoms of injuries, especially those related to the brain. While some injuries might seem minor or even non-existent in the immediate aftermath, the complexity and critical nature of the brain make any potential injury a cause for concern.
Seeking immediate medical attention is paramount, as early detection can prevent complications, offer a clear roadmap for recovery, and provide invaluable documentation linking injuries directly to the accident.
Moreover, the brain’s subtle progression means that certain injuries, like concussions or hematomas, might not present obvious symptoms right away, yet can have lasting impacts if left untreated. The absence of immediate pain should not be mistaken for being “uninjured.”
Ensuring a thorough medical evaluation not only safeguards your physical health but also offers mental peace, and establishes a crucial baseline for any future health complications. Always prioritize your well-being after a collision and seek immediate medical care, regardless of how you feel in the moment.
The Lifelong Impact of Brain Injuries
The aftermath of a brain injury can drastically alter your life. Some reported challenges include:
- Difficulties with cognition and concentration
- Memory issues
- Impaired learning abilities
- Challenges with coordination and balance
- Speech, hearing, and vision disturbances
- Emotional and psychological disturbances
These complications might prevent you from resuming your regular work, driving, or even performing daily tasks independently. Moreover, studies indicate that even minor TBIs can predispose individuals to neurological conditions like dementia or Parkinson’s disease in later years.
What Compensation Can You Seek for a Brain Injury?
If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury due to another’s negligence on Washington roads, here’s a look at the forms of compensation you might be entitled to:
- Medical Expenses: These cover immediate and future medical bills related to the brain injury. This includes costs for hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and any specialized treatments specific to brain trauma.
- Rehabilitation and Therapy Costs: Given the intricate nature of the brain, recovery often demands extensive rehabilitation. This can encompass physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and other specialized treatments to assist victims in regaining functions or coping with new limitations.
- Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity: If the injury has impaired your ability to work either temporarily or permanently, you can claim compensation for these lost wages. Furthermore, if there’s a reduced capacity to earn in the future, compensation for that potential loss is also warranted.
- Pain and Suffering: This addresses the physical discomfort and emotional distress stemming from the injury. Brain injuries can usher in psychological challenges, including mood disorders or cognitive disruptions, warranting compensation.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: A brain injury can significantly hamper one’s ability to partake in daily activities, hobbies, or engage in social interactions. Compensation can be sought for this diminished capacity to enjoy life’s pleasures.
- Home Modifications and Assistive Devices: Severe brain injuries might necessitate alterations to a victim’s living environment or the use of assistive devices. These come at a cost, and victims have the right to seek compensation for such necessities.
- Wrongful Death Claims: In unfortunate instances where a brain injury results in death, the victim’s family may pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible parties.
It’s essential to consult with an experienced Spokane car accident lawyer familiar with the state-specific regulations and nuances. Their skill and experience will ensure that you secure the rightful compensation you are entitled to receive.
Let Albrecht Law Stand By Your Side
You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.
If a traumatic brain injury from a car accident in Spokane has affected you or someone you love, it’s crucial to consult with a Spokane car accident attorney. Attempting to negotiate with insurance companies on your own can be overwhelming and counterproductive.
The legal team at Albrecht Law, with years of experience in representing TBI cases, is equipped to assist you every step of the way. We understand the tactics insurance adjusters might employ and are ready to advocate for your best interests.
Concentrate on your recovery, and let us handle the complexities of your claim. Reach out to our team today at (509) 495-1246 or fill out our online form for a FREE consultation. Serving clients across Eastern Washington, including Grant County, Adams County, and Spokane County, we’re here to listen, guide, and represent you in your time of need.
Copyright © 2023. Albrecht Law PLLC. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Albrecht Law PLLC
5105 E 3rd Ave, Suite 101
Spokane Valley, WA 99212