Introduction to Brain Injuries Sustained in Auto Accidents
Our law firm has met with and represented many people who were involved in car accidents. Time and again, we find that they have experienced a brain injury of some kind. Car manufacturers go to great lengths to make their vehicles safe but this does not prevent head injuries from occurring at high rates relative to other harms. Below, we provide some information on the type of head injuries that commonly occur in car accidents as well as the type of recovery process required in litigation following an accident.
About the Brain
The brain is made up of three parts: the cerebrum, cerebellum, and the brain stem. The cerebrum is by far the largest portion of the brain. It is composed of two halves and is responsible for advanced body functions including speech and critical reasoning. The cerebellum is located underneath the cerebrum and is responsible for muscle movements including balance. Finally, the brain stem is the anchor of the brain. It connects the spinal cord to the other parts of the brain and controls automatic functions like breathing.
The skull wraps around the brain and encases the entire organ. It acts as a protective shield and is composed of eight separate bones that are fused together. These bones include the frontal, sphenoid, occipital, ethmoid, two temporal bones, and two parietal bones. Both the brain and spinal cord are also covered with membranes called meninges. There are three layers of meninges called the pia, arachnoid, and dura. The dura is on the outside, the arachnoid is in the middle, and the dura is the innermost level of meninges. Similar to the skull, these provide protective functions but also contain other elements including blood vessels and subdural cavities.
The cerebrum itself is divided into four parts or lobes including the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal. The frontal lobe is primarily responsible for speech, judgment and general intelligence. It is located in the front of the brain. The parietal lobe is where language, perception, and feeling emanate and is in the middle region of the brain. The occipital lobe is in the back of the brain and is responsible for sight. Finally, the temporal lobe is underneath the other lobes. Hearing, memory, and organization come from this lobe.
Here are a few diagrams to illustrate the brain’s anatomy and organization:
3 main brain parts:
Understanding the Mechanics of Brain Injuries Related to Auto Accidents
A concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common form of brain injury. Concussions occur when an external force puts pressure on the head that in turn puts pressure on the skull and causes it to rebound off of the opposite side of itself. This creates bruising and swelling resulting in extraordinary pressure on the brain stem. There are varying levels of concussions and their effects can range from a difficulty in breathing and maintaining balance to loss of memory and long-term damage to the affected area and/or a correlating part of the body.
Car accident-related concussions and general brain injuries are on the rise. After a sudden halt, the victim's face could impact the dashboard or, if turning too abruptly, it could hit the window. In some cases, foreign objects have fallen off of trucks and flown into other vehicles and hit the victim in the head. Even a whiplash reaction in a crash can create the force necessary to cause a traumatic brain injury.
After a crash, victims need to look for signs of a concussion, which may be difficult to identify. Some symptoms may not present themselves for a few days or weeks following the accident. However, here is a simple list of tsymptoms to watch for:
- Loss of memory
Identifying and treating these symptoms is critical because even a mild symptom can develop into larger problems if ignored. For instance, concussions can result in epilepsy or permanent brain damage. Furthermore, multiple concussions raise the probability of experiencing serious complications. So, recognizing the circumstances where they can occur and what signs of them look like are very important.
Brain Injury Statistics
- Over one million people suffer a traumatic brain injury every year.
- Tens of thousands of people die from a traumatic brain injury annually.
- Roughly 15% of traumatic brain injuries result from motor vehicle accidents.
- The total cost of treating a traumatic brain injury is approximately $1,000,000.
- Men receive traumatic brain injuries at a rate that is almost twice as high as women.
Further Brain Injury resources
Here are some resources to help you understand what recovery might be possible if you have a brain injury following a car accident: