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Brain Injuries and Car Accidents in Michigan

August 18, 2021

Auto accidents accounted for 36,096 deaths in the United States in 2019. Michigan saw 902 fatal crashes that year which resulted in 985 deaths. Serious injuries are also a common result of car accidents. One of the most serious is TBI, or traumatic brain injury.

What is TBI?

Traumatic brain injury is typically the result of a violent blow or jolt to the head or body—a very common occurrence in a car accident.

TBI isn’t just a single type of injury. It’s in fact a category of injury that includes a number of specific types of damages to the brain. The particular type of traumatic brain injury could determine the symptoms the patient experiences and his or her prognosis for recovery.

After a brain injury in an automobile accident, a victim may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against one or more at-fault parties. To do this, car accident victims should consult an experienced Grand Rapids car accident attorney, like Buchanan Firm.

How are Brain Injuries Classified?

Brain injuries, including those caused by a car or truck accident, are classified into six categories:

  1. Mild. The patient typically doesn’t lose consciousness for more than a few seconds, but migraines and disorientation may come later.
  2. Moderate. An accident victim may lose consciousness for several minutes and could experience a number of symptoms when they regain consciousness. Usually, a concussion is considered moderate or mild.
  3. Severe. A patient will lose consciousness for several hours or days or will fall into a coma. A severe brain injury typically means lifelong complications and significant disabilities.
  4. Penetrating. This type of brain injury involves the penetration or laceration of the brain. This type of brain injury is also usually an “open” TBI, which means there is an open head wound exposing the brain.
  5. This brain injury involves an external force that rattles and bruises the brain but doesn’t necessarily cause an open injury or laceration. Nonpenetrating TBIs are extremely common in automobile accidents.
  6. Toxic: A brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation, blood toxicity, or disease is known as a toxic brain injury. Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning is one common cause, and toxins from fires, chemical fumes, pesticides, and other environmental hazards can also lead to this type of brain injury.

What are the Most Common Types of Brain Injury in Car Accidents?

Concussion. This is a mild TBI and is the most frequent brain injury in serious car accidents. A concussion is usually mild and nonfatal. However, some concussions can be more serious and cause lasting damages.

Diffuse Axonal Injury. A frequent brain injury in car accidents, diffuse axonal injury happens when extreme forces are exerted on the head and brain. If the brain moves rapidly around inside the skull, it can compromise the connection between the brain and the rest of the body. Fibers within the delicate brain stem can tear or shear… this causes devastating injuries. Car accident victims who suffer diffuse axonal injuries frequently wind up in comas.

Contusion. This is a bruise, and the brain could suffer a contusion in a car accident if something impacts the head from the outside, such as a car part or a utility pole. Note that a major cerebral contusion can ultimately cause brain herniation. This is a severe TBI where parts of the brain squeeze past the skull.

Coup-Contrecoup. This type of TBI is the result of an individual’s impact with an object, such as the car’s steering wheel or another vehicle. This type of TBI of brain injury happens in two places: (i) the site of the impact (coup); and (ii) the opposite side of the brain (contrecoup). These injuries can occur when the brain moves within the skull with the impact of a car accident. The movement of the brain after the impact could cause the brain to collide with the skull on the opposite side of the head. As a result, an auto accident victim will suffer two brain injuries, not just one.

Open Head Injury. This involves a cracked or fractured skull as well as a brain injury. A penetrating brain injury is a serious kind of open head injury where an object penetrates the skull and brain. It’s common for a projectile in an auto accident —such as a car part, truck cargo, or a roadside sign— to cause a penetrating or open head injury. These injuries may require surgery to relieve pressure on the skull from a swelling brain. High-velocity brain penetrations have the worse prognoses for recovery.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). An ABI happens from within the body, rather that being caused by external forces, such as anoxic and hypoxic injuries. In those instances, the brain doesn’t get sufficient blood or oxygen to continue functioning properly. A lack of oxygen or blood can starve brain cells to the extent that they are permanently damaged or die. This can also occur in secondary brain injuries. Since dead brain cells can’t regenerate, an ABI may cause a lifelong impact for a car accident victim.

What is a Secondary Brain Injury?

Secondary brain injuries are also a serious concern for automobile accident victims. When the brain is injured, it begins to swell and become inflamed. When the swelling is too great, it causes the brain to press against the skull. This will decrease the flow of blood and may cause secondary injuries that may be more severe than what caused the initial injury.

What is the Financial Impact of a Brain Injury?

Unfortunately, the typical brain injury will have a significant effect on the financial well-being of the victim and his or her family. Ambulances, ER treatment, extensive hospitalization, rehabilitation, and medicine can mean many thousands of dollars worth of medical expenses. these costs can quickly exceed most victim’s automobile insurance coverage, if he or she did not choose the unlimited coverage. In addition, TBI patients frequently miss months or years of work… or they may be unable to ever return to their regular employment. This creates a serious and life-changing, financial impact.

Contact Us

If you or a family member has been seriously injured in an automobile or motorcycle accident in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We will help you pursue compensation against the driver who is responsible.

For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital, to accommodate you.

Contact us today!