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Head Injuries from Car Accidents

Car accidents can cause injuries to the head and brain of varying physical and psychological significance. This type of personal injury can involve a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or trauma, or the impairment or loss of mental faculty. Such suffering can have long-term or even permanent consequences for the injured person. While only one family member may have sustained a brain injury, the entire family can suffer from its effects.

Rehabilitation from a serious head or brain injury can take months or even years and involve long-term physical therapy, courses of medication, permanent prescription drug therapy, in-home medical care, and much more. The medical expenses alone can cripple anyone's financial future. In such a situation, the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled traumatic car accident cases involving head injuries can be of enormous benefit. A car accident lawyer can inform you of the benefits that may be available to you in your specific situation.

Closed Head Injury

"Closed head injury" is a broad term which describes any injury to the brain or structures within the skull that are not caused by a penetrating injury like a stab wound. In such a case, there is no penetration of the skull, and there may be no obvious external signs of damage. Closed head injuries range from very minor to potentially fatal injuries.

When a moving head stops suddenly, the brain continues traveling until it collides with the hard skull. The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are the major areas that control our speech and language, often receive the most damage in this way because they sit in pockets of the skull that allow more room for the brain to shift, and thus sustain injury. Because these major speech and language areas often receive damage, communication difficulties may frequently occur following closed head injuries. Injury victims may have problems with pronunciation or slurred speech.

Persons whose brains are injured as a result of a car accident may also suffer problems with their memory and general cognitive, or thinking, skills. They may have problems concentrating for long periods of time, feel "scatter-brained" or unable to organize their thoughts, and become easily confused. This confusion can make them frustrated, upset, and angry, and they may be subject to extreme swings of mood as a result. Other problems may include difficulty swallowing, walking, maintaining balance, and trouble with coordination, as well as changes in the ability to smell, hear, or see.


A concussion is a trauma-induced alteration of the normally alert state of the brain. Severe shaking or rotating of the head and neck of the kind that may occur in a car accident can cause concussion. Symptoms of a concussion may include dizziness, nausea, disorientation, headache, depression, insomnia, and mood swings, and may not appear immediately after a collision. It is important to carefully monitor an injured person after a car accident for signs of concussion. Swelling in the brain can increase dramatically in the initial 48-hour period after impact.

Postconcussion syndrome commonly follows a mild head injury. Symptoms of postconcussion syndrome can include severe headache, dizziness, difficulty in concentration, depression, and anxiety.