Car Accident Head Trauma: What to Watch For

    Car accident head trauma is one of the worst kinds of serious injuries people experience in a motor vehicle crash. There are so many objects that victims can hit their heads against during a car accident, including the steering wheel. While the effects of a broken bone or a burn may be immediately visible and obvious, the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be much more subtle and long-lasting. As far as TBIs go, car accidents are one of the most common causes, so everyday people need to know what to watch for. For casual observers, head injury victims may appear to be completely normal. But you don’t have to have suffered a skull fracture to experience symptoms of a TBI.

    Victims may be struggling with serious issues internally. Even if the visible injury may only seem like a mild contusion to the head, there are still other risks to consider. Some head injury victims may even be unaware of the extent of their own injuries, and outside observers may not notice changes either. For these reasons, it is very important for victims to play it safe and keep an eye out for various issues following car accidents. It is always a good idea to get medical treatment as soon as possible – even if you are unaware of any obvious injuries.

    Personality Changes

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    Sometimes a severe injury to the head can affect parts of the brain responsible for our personality and emotions. One of the most obvious signs of a serious brain injury after an auto accident is notable changes in personality. The truth is that a brain injury can completely change a person in a permanent manner. There are even accounts of people going through changes in their sexuality due to brain injuries. Some victims experience a complete lack of inhibition after brain injuries. These individuals can experience serious issues with their relationships, professions, and ability to function in society after such serious personality changes. The most tragic aspect of these personality changes is that they are often irreversible. 

    One of the most common side effects of serious brain trauma is depression. Often, individuals fall into a deep sense of depression without being able to explain why. Some experts say that the most common personality change after severe TBI is increased aggression. This can cause serious issues within families, and it can cause injured victims to commit acts that they regret. Sometimes, it can cause them to commit acts that are illegal. Severe mood swings are common, and in some cases, victims experience tears that seem to segway instantly into laughter for no apparent reason. Obviously, experiencing these unpredictable emotions can be incredibly distressing. Some individuals experience a general lack of interest in their own lives, becoming apathetic and unresponsive. This is perhaps one of the most unsettling things to witness for family members of these victims.

    Dealing with these personality changes and emotional issues is not impossible, but it requires considerable therapy and hours of work alongside mental health professionals. Victims may eventually once again become functioning members of society, but they will never be quite the same. If you notice any of these personality changes in yourself or an injured family member, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible and take note of your issues. 

    The Possibility of Slipping into a Coma

    After suffering a concussion or severe head trauma, there may be a possibility of slipping into a coma or dying. This is why victims of most types of TBI are advised to stay awake. Staying awake allows friends and loved ones to observe the victim for alarming changes in cognition or consciousness so that they can call 911. It’s vital that victims of head trauma undergo a CT scan so that brain bleeding can be detected before it’s too late. Our brains are not attached to our skulls, they essentially float in our skull. Sudden changes in velocity force our brain to impact the inside of our skull. This can cause bleeding. When brains bleed, there is nowhere for the swelling to go, because our skull traps the swelling internally, causing life threatening pressure.

    In some cases, victims may initially retain consciousness after car accidents – seemingly surviving without major issues. But as time goes on, they may slip into a coma due to increased pressure or bleeding in the brain. Most comas last only a few weeks, but some can last years. There are a few signs that someone is about to slip into a coma that you might want to watch out for. This may include intense headaches, irritability, and slurred speech. 

    Memory Loss

    Memory loss is another serious symptom that victims may experience after some type of traumatic brain injury. This can be especially problematic because victims may forget to seek medical attention. They may even forget the entire car accident, waking up the next day and going to work as if nothing happened. This phenomenon is known as “amnesia,” and it can even affect people who have relatively slight head injuries. The good news is that if someone loses memory of a car accident, they may still file personal injury claims years or even decades after the incident. This is because the statute of limitations only prevents you from suing if a certain amount of time has passed since you became aware of your own injuries. 

    A person with amnesia never becomes aware of their own injuries, and so the clock never starts ticking – so to speak. If these victims suddenly regain memories of the car accident, they can move forward with injury claims. However, it may be difficult to recover compensation if victims never get medical treatment. You must prove that legitimate injuries occurred if you want to receive compensation, and this can be difficult if there are no medical records of your injury. The same general logic applies to victims of comas. If these individuals fall into comas for decades, they could still potentially file injury claims after regaining consciousness. This is because they were not made aware of their own injuries until they regained consciousness. 

    Signs of Concussion

    In the medical field, a concussion is known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI). Considering the seriousness of this type of head injury, even a mild TBI, you should always watch for some of the most serious signs of concussion after a motor vehicle accident-related head injury. In rare situations, a hematoma may form on the brain after a collision. This is when blood starts to collect on the brain. Signs of a serious concussion include:

    • One pupil becomes larger than the other
    • Drowsiness
    • Inability to wake
    • Severe headache
    • Slurred speech
    • Weakness
    • Numbness
    • Lack of coordination
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Convulsions
    • Seizures
    • Unusual behavior
    • Confusion
    • Restlessness
    • Agitation
    • Blurred vision
    • Slowed brain function

    Getting Treatment After a Head Injury

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    It is important to get medical attention as soon as possible after suffering a head injury in a car crash. Even if you merely suspect you may have suffered a head injury in the collision, it’s worth a trip to the emergency room because the risk is simply too great. Playing it safe can potentially avoid serious consequences – including comas, brain damage, seizures, and much more. Remember, a hematoma can become progressively worse over time if not treated. You may be suffering from memory loss without realizing it. In other words, you could have suffered a head injury in a car accident, and the memory of the actual impact may be missing from your mind. Because of these factors, it’s always a good idea to get treatment as soon as possible after your accident. Be sure to tell doctors that you wish to be assessed for a possible brain injury. This might involve a CT scan or CAT scan. 

    But there is another very important reason to talk to a healthcare provider after your brain injury. If you fail to get medical treatment, proving that your head injury is legitimate may be challenging. Remember, many of the effects of a brain injury can be completely invisible to outside observers. You may need to get assessed by a mental health professional who can determine whether you are suffering from personality changes or emotional issues. Without this type of testing, an insurance adjuster or a civil judge may doubt the validity of your story. 

    If you do not seek medical care, there is no record of your injury ever taking place. If there is no record of your injury, you may not have the ability to receive compensation. Your personal injury settlement can be crucial after a head injury. This is especially true if you require years of mental health treatment from professionals after your accident. Your brain injury may also prevent you from working, and your settlement can provide you with the necessary funds to cover your missed wages. Finally, your settlement may also cover the emotional cost of the psychological impact of your brain injury. Even though no amount of money can change an irreversible brain injury, a settlement can make it easier to achieve closure and move on with your life as best possible. 

    Where Can I Find a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer in Chicago?

    If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced car accident attorney in Chicago, look no further than Palermo Law Group for a free case evaluation. Over the years, we have helped numerous car accident victims – including those who have suffered severe head trauma in collisions and have had to deal with medical bills as a result. We know how serious these accidents can be, and we are fully aware that these injuries can be difficult to assess and detect. After you receive medical attention, you should book a consultation with us at your earliest convenience. With our help, you can hold negligent parties accountable for causing this serious head trauma. With a settlement, you can cover all the various damages you have been forced to incur due to your accident. These damages could be economical and non-economic in nature.

    If you or a loved one are dealing with the consequences of car accident head trauma, reach out today for a free consultation.




    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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