Head Injury from Car Accidents
After a car crash, a head injury may include any injury to the scalp, skull, or brain — from a minor cut to a massive brain injury. Although more severe head injuries cause more catastrophic symptoms, even a “mild” head or brain injury, such as a mild concussion, can cause lingering problems with thought, attention, memory, and mood.
A car accident brain injury or head injury can turn your life upside-down in an instant. Tasks that once seemed simple can now feel insurmountably difficult. You may worry about how you will care for your family when you’re struggling to recover from a serious injury — or you may worry about whether you will ever recover at all.
In the face of your daily challenges, fighting with insurance companies or holding a negligent driver accountable can seem impossible. But they don’t have to be. By working with an experienced New York City car accident lawyer like the team at Zlotolow & Associates, you can gain an advocate who will handle communications with insurance companies and build a case for the compensation you need and deserve.
Schedule a free consultation with our team today.
Common Types of Car Accident Head Injuries
According to the National Institutes of Health, head injuries are classified as either “closed” or “open”:
- A closed head injury occurs when a blow to the head causes damage, but the skull is not broken.
- An open head injury occurs when something breaks the skull and enters the brain.
Both types of head injury may occur during a car accident. A concussion, caused by a blow to the head, may occur during an accident if the head strikes or is struck by any object – such as part of the vehicle or flying debris. Open head injuries during motor vehicle accidents are more likely to occur if the head is struck by a small, fast-moving object, such as glass flying at high speeds.
Any injury to the head may cause internal bleeding if it is severe enough. Bleeding may occur in the brain itself, or in the layers that surround the brain inside the skull. The National Institutes of Health estimate that more than 1 in 6 of all hospital admissions involve a brain injury of some kind.
Symptoms of a head injury may vary, depending on the type of injury and how severe it is. Some head injuries are not noticed for several hours or even days, until bleeding or swelling inside the skull begins to present in the form of pain, dizziness, trouble thinking, or other symptoms.
With any type of head injury, speed is of the essence when it comes to getting medical care. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you receive assistance and treatment that can help you recover more fully. When a head injury is severe, speed is mandatory: In a 1998 article published in the Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, researchers examined car crash data and discovered that 52 percent of all car crash deaths occurring in the first 90 minutes after the accident are caused by head injuries.
Concussions are among the most common types of motor vehicle accident head injuries. Symptoms of a mild concussion include:
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating, not thinking clearly
- Drowsiness or difficulty waking up or staying awake
- Loss of consciousness, even if only briefly
- Being unable to remember what happened immediately before or after the injury
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety, depression, or other changes in mood
More severe concussions may produce additional symptoms, which require immediate medical attention. These include:
- Changes in the ability to stay alert, aware of one’s surroundings, or conscious
- Confusion that does not go away or gets worse
- Muscle weakness on one or both sides of the body
- Different size pupils in the eyes
- Unusual eye movements, such as unusual jerking or twitching
- Repeated vomiting
- Trouble walking or maintaining balance
- Unconsciousness or coma
Whether classified as “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe,” all concussions cause damage to the brain. Medical treatment is essential, as is a period of rest and following your doctor’s instructions closely. Often, the recovery period for a concussion is longer than the injured person expects.
Headaches following a car accident are common and can result from a variety of causes including a head injury. A 2007 article in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association found that headaches that occur hours or even days after a crash need prompt medical care. They may be signs of a more serious head injury, or they may be the brain’s way of processing the psychological trauma of the accident. Regardless of cause, prompt medical care can help control distressing symptoms and promote maximum recovery.
Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic brain injuries occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen long enough to cause cell death, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. A related injury is a “hypoxic” brain injury, which occurs when the oxygen level is too low to sustain cell life.
Anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries may occur if the blood flow to the brain is blocked or slowed, or when there is not enough oxygen in the bloodstream, such as when a person is being suffocated by exposure to carbon monoxide (high levels of which occur in car exhaust). Even when a person has not suffered head trauma in an auto accident, they can suffer an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury if the crash causes the person’s heart or breathing to stop or if exposure to toxins like carbon monoxide deprives the person of oxygen.
The symptoms of an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury are similar to the symptoms of a concussion. They may include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in mood
- Loss of consciousness
- Poor coordination
In some cases, an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury can continue to take its toll even after the accident has passed. Patients who suffer this event may find that their brain functions continue to decline, with worsening symptoms, over the hours or days following an auto accident. Like any type of head or brain injury, these injuries often require prompt medical care.
How Can an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Help You After a Head Injury?
With so much to do surrounding the care of your head injury and your recovery, choosing a car accident lawyer can seem difficult. Yet working with the right attorney for you is essential.
An experienced personal injury attorney will:
- Help you fully understand the claims process. Every insurance company uses slightly different forms and processes, and the jargon of auto insurance can be confusing for anyone who doesn’t work in the industry. Your personal injury lawyer will help you understand how the claims process works and how you can protect your right to full and fair compensation.
- Communicate with insurance companies for you. Your lawyer will take over the process of dealing with the insurance companies on your behalf. For many of our clients, the relief of this burden is one of the most valuable parts of their relationship with our law firm — along with gaining an ally who can fight for the compensation they deserve.
- Launch an investigation of your case. Your personal injury lawyer will take charge of gathering paperwork, talking to witnesses, and determining exactly what happened. You’ll be kept informed of the process and given the information you need to participate in ways that help build your case and preserve vital information about your injuries.
- Help you care for your health. Your personal injury attorney can recommend ways in which you can take charge of your medical situation. For instance, your attorney may provide information on how to keep a journal that tracks your symptoms, medical appointments, and feelings about your situation. This journal can help suggest courses of treatment to your doctors, establish your claim for compensation to insurance companies and other parties, and provide a sense of perspective about your healing process and how the work you do helps you recover.
- Fight for the results you want to see. Every car accident claim is different, and so are the people who suffer injuries in these accidents. Your goals and desires matter to an experienced lawyer. Whether your biggest concern is getting your medical bills paid, covering future care expenses, or holding a negligent party accountable, your lawyer will take the time to understand what you want to achieve and to craft a smart legal strategy that fights for that goal.
Choose a New York City Car Accident Lawyer Who Will Fight for You
A head injury has serious consequences. At Zlotolow & Associates, our NYC car accident attorneys fight for full and fair compensation in each case. We know how your life can be turned upside-down in an instant by a crash, and we’re committed to fighting for all the compensation to which our clients are entitled.
To learn more, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.