I was in a car accident that resulted in a severe head injury. What should I do?
Being in a serious car accident can lead to many types of severe injuries, from broken bones to internal bleeding. One common injury that results from major car accidents is head injuries, which can range from mild concussions to an injury extreme enough to cause a coma or even brain death. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, car accidents caused up to 17% of the total TMI (Traumatic Brain Injury) deaths in the state in 2019.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, it is imperative that you seek medical treatment as soon as you possibly can, even if you think you feel fine. Head injuries can be tricky to diagnose because symptoms of the injury may not be immediately apparent. It can take days or weeks for the injury to cause any symptoms. Additionally, TBIs don’t always show up on scans or MRIs, so doctors would have to conduct a neuropsychological exam to help form a diagnosis, and the sooner they can do this, the better.
Being in a car accident can be scary and upsetting, and receiving a head injury on top of that would only make it worse. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident in North Carolina that has resulted in a severe head injury, contact an experienced car accident attorney in Charlotte or throughout North Carolina today.
How Does a TBI Occur During a Car Accident?
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) happens when there is a violent blow or jolt to the head, which can lead to bruising, torn tissues, or loss of consciousness, or even amnesia. In a car crash, a TBI can happen when the victim’s head strikes something at great force, such as the steering wheel or the windshield.
Additionally, studies have shown that someone who suffers from whiplash is also at an increased risk for a TBI, so it is still possible to receive a TBI even without a direct strike to the head.
What Are the Different Types of TBIs?
TBIs are generally sorted into four different types: concussions, contusions, anoxic, and penetrating injuries.
Concussions are generally considered to be mild brain injuries. They are often caused by shaking, a direct impact, or a sudden change in movement, like whiplash.
Concussions typically don’t show up on head scans but are still considered serious. Concussions can cause symptoms such as memory loss, a lack of concentration, headaches, or confusion.
Contusions of the brain are similar to bruises that we receive to our skin. However, when we receive a bruise on our skin, the breaking of the blood vessels causes discoloration, and generally nothing more. A bruise to the brain can cause serious issues, generally stemming from a buildup in pressure as blood accumulates in the skull.
Contusions can range in severity, like concussions, and symptoms can range from disorientation and temporary memory loss to brain swelling and more serious long-term effects.
Anoxic Brain Injuries
These brain injuries occur when the brain does not get enough oxygen for an extended amount of time. After about 4 or 5 minutes without enough oxygen, brain cells begin to die, and that’s when permanent injury to functioning will occur.
Penetrating Brain Injuries
Penetrating brain injuries occur when an object pierces the skull and comes into direct contact with the brain. This contact between the foreign object and the brain can cause devastating injuries. While all brain injuries have the possibility of being severe, these types of injuries are usually the most severe.
What Should I Do for TBI After an Accident?
If you’ve been in a car accident, you should:
- Get Examined Immediately — When dealing with potential TBIs, the sooner you can get a diagnosis, the better. As discussed earlier, TBIs can be tricky to diagnose, so the sooner a doctor can see you after the accident has occurred, the more likely they are to catch any symptoms you may display, which can help provide you with life-saving treatment.
- Get Treatment — After a physician has looked you over, make sure you receive the treatment and diagnostic tests necessary. Even though TBIs don’t always show up on head scans, it is still important to have these tests run. Having these tests done ensures that your doctor will be able to prescribe the most appropriate treatment for your injury.
- Get Documentation — Though it is not fun to think about, having documentation of your injuries close to the date of the accident is one of the most important things you can do when thinking about dealing with insurance companies in the future. It is necessary to have this documentation because if you are suffering from a TBI, these doctor records are the only way to show that the injury is connected to the car accident you were in. Even if you have a delayed onset of symptoms, having this baseline medical data will be helpful to you in your case.
- Talk to an Experienced North Carolina Attorney — If possible, consult an attorney before trying to deal with insurance companies on your own. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation, so you would be able to discuss your options and how to best proceed. If you decide to hire an attorney, they can help facilitate the conversation with the insurance companies, giving you a better chance at a favorable outcome in your case.
- Inform Insurance Companies — North Carolina is an “at-fault” state, which means that if you were a victim in a car accident, the driver who caused the accident will use their insurance to pay for bills relating to the crash. Let their insurance company know about your TBI as soon as you are able.
- Do Not Sign Anything! — Unless under the direction of an attorney who is looking to protect your best interests, do not sign any waivers, settlements, or releases related to your accident. Let your attorney look over every document you are sent to ensure that you will be receiving the care and compensation that you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in North Carolina
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident that caused a severe head injury, contact an attorney from the law offices of Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers. At Auger & Auger, we have been serving the Charlotte and surrounding communities for over 20+ years and will continue to fight for our clients to ensure they receive the best possible outcome available to them in their car accident cases.
Call us today at 800-559-5741 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. During your consultation, you will be able to meet with one of our experienced attorneys, either virtually or in person. Our attorneys will listen to the details of your case and provide you with individualized advice about how to best move forward to get the compensation you deserve.