Many people who get hurt in serious motor vehicle collisions sustain serious injuries. Some, however, are more obvious than others. Broken limbs and spinal cord injuries are often obvious right at the scene of the collision. Other, similarly serious injuries may not seem like a big issue at first.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common in many kinds of crashes. All too often, people with TBIs are able to exit their vehicle and complete a police report without realizing how serious their injuries are. That can lead to delayed treatment, worsening symptoms and difficulty in getting the compensation you deserve following a crash.
TBI symptoms can take a while to develop
There are several reasons why people who sustain serious and life-altering TBIs may not realize the extent of their injuries immediately following a car crash. First of all, they likely looked over their bodies for visible injuries. Finding none or just minor cuts and scrapes, they proceed under the assumption they are unhurt. The rush of adrenaline that often accompanies these accidents can contribute to a lack of awareness about an injury.
More importantly, the symptoms of a TBI can take anywhere from hours to weeks to fully develop. This is due, in part, to ongoing damage after the collision. Your skull, which usually works to protect you, can actually be a source of increasing symptoms. As your brain swells, bruises or bleeds after the accident, the skull will push back against the enlarged brain, causing worsening symptoms. That can lead to serious, even permanent injuries related to your TBI.
Anyone who suspects that they hit their head in a crash, lost consciousness or who was shaken badly during a collision needs to seek professional medical evaluation. Even if you just smacked your head on the steering wheel, you should let a doctor check you out and see if you have signs of a serious head injury. A doctor can carefully evaluate you for signs of a TBI and take steps to reduce future symptoms, including medication or emergency surgery to reduce pressure on your brain.
TBIs can result in long-term disability and medical needs
TBIs can cause a host of symptoms, from impaired balance and dizziness to headaches, changes in sensory processing, confusion, memory issues, problems with your sleep habits and even changes in your overall mood, behavior and personality.
For some people, these symptoms prove so debilitating that they require regular nursing care. In other cases, physical and occupational therapy may be necessary to help someone adjust to life with a TBI. Severe and moderate TBIs may leave someone unable to return to one's job, adding a loss of income to the financial strain of requiring ongoing medical care.