Auto Accidents May Result in Serious Closed Head Injuries

Head injuries can be classified in one of two ways, open and closed.

Open, or penetrating, head wounds are what most of us think of when picturing common brain injuries. They occur when an object pierces the skull, and are usually easy to observe and detect.

Closed head injuries, on the other hand, typically involve a blow from an object that does not break the skull. Closed head injuries are often difficult to diagnose, since they often evince no external signs. Yet, they can be just as damaging as their open counterparts.

An article by Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, MD, estimates that more than half a million patients are believed to sustain closed head injuries every year in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the primary causes of these injuries. Anyone whose life has been touched by a closed head injury from an auto accident can benefit from key medical and legal information.

What Causes Closed Head Injuries?

In vehicle accidents, closed head and brain injuries can arise from a number of sources. A victim's head may impact some interior portion of the car or an external object that enters the vehicle during the course of a collision. Loose items in vehicle cabins can become missiles in high-speed crashes and present a grave danger of closed head injuries if they strike a victim's skull. In some instances, closed head injuries can even result from the violent jarring of the head that occurs in certain types of crashes, even absent contact with an object.

Signs and Symptoms

After any serious auto accident, those involved should be thoroughly examined by a doctor. However, even for a trained physician, some common closed head injuries are easy to miss. Symptoms may not develop for hours or even days.

Watch out for irregularity in mental state, loss of or change in one of your senses, or headaches that continue to come back. Fluid draining from the nose or ears, dilated pupils, and dizziness could also be signs that something is amiss. Especially in children, irritability can indicate a closed head injury.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident and is displaying any combination of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately and raise your concerns about a closed head injury.

Liability for Closed Head Injuries

Dr. Rangel-Castilla's article reports statistics that estimate that almost 100,000 Americans are permanently disabled by head injuries every year; annual costs to victims, their families, and taxpayers from head injuries are estimated to range from $75 to $100 billion.

No amount of money can ever truly compensate the victim of a traumatic closed head injury. But, suffering a serious head wound entails some real costs. Medical expenses, wages lost due to injury and the loss of future earning capacity can all be staggering financial burdens. In addition, victims may experience life-changing personal costs, including pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (the less-tangible, companionship elements of a relationship). If a victim is killed, unanticipated funeral costs can also be substantial. Monetary damages can be awarded to compensate victims and their families for all these losses.

If your injury was caused through the fault of another, he or she (or in many auto accident cases, his/her insurance company) may be liable for your resulting losses. Determining who is at fault for an accident is a fact-intensive, complex process. However, if the driver of the vehicle that caused your accident violated any traffic laws (including speeding), was distracted or inattentive, or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash, they likely bear some responsibility for your injuries.

Getting Professional Help

Medical attention should be your first priority after you or a loved one suffers a closed head injury in an auto accident. Speaking with an attorney as soon as your immediate medical needs are met, however, is also very important. For one thing, the statute of limitations prevents anyone from bringing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if too much time passes. In addition, gathering essential information for your case becomes more difficult as time goes on: witnesses may forget details or become difficult to locate, and physical evidence (roadway skid marks, etc.) may degrade or disappear.

If you or a loved one received a closed head injury in a car accident, contact a personal injury attorney today. Your attorney can help you collect the compensation you deserve from those responsible for your accident. Suffering from a closed head injury can be a trying experience, but the proper legal assistance can put you back on your way to enjoying a more normal life.