Brain Injuries in Car Accidents: Symptoms, Outcomes, and What to Do Next

Category: Car Accidents

Article by Heath A. Tuley

Brain Injuries in Car Accidents: Symptoms, Outcomes, and What to Do Next

Car accidents can cause various serious injuries, but damage to the brain is particularly devastating. Brain injuries from car accidents can have severe and life-altering consequences, especially if the victims do not receive immediate medical treatment. Our legal team wants victims and their families to understand the types of injuries, the symptoms to look for, and options for brain injury compensation after a car accident.

Types of Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, occurs when the brain experiences a sudden and violent impact against the skull. The trauma could be the head striking an object inside the car or the brain colliding with the inside of the skull when the vehicle suddenly stops.

Closed Head Injury

In cases where the brain is injured while the skull remains intact, a victim could suffer a closed head injury, also known as a closed brain injury. This results from excessive shaking or sudden forward and backward movements slamming the brain into the inside of the skull. Surgical intervention can be necessary if the brain begins to swell.


Concussions are likely to occur when a victim’s head is suddenly jolted or shaken. Although considered a mild traumatic brain injury, concussions can still have significant lasting effects. Victims may suffer memory loss, vision issues, headaches, or nausea until the brain repairs the damage.


A contusion is a bruise on the brain’s surface, typically caused by direct trauma to the head during a car accident. Contusions can lead to bleeding and swelling in the brain, which can be life-threatening.


A coup-contrecoup brain injury involves trauma to the brain in two ways. A contrecoup injury occurs when a moving head/brain hits a non-moving object. A coup injury occurs when a moving object hits a non-moving head/brain.

Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)

Diffuse Axonal Injury occurs when the brain rapidly shifts within the skull, causing widespread damage to nerve fibers. This shearing force inside the skull often results from high-speed car accidents with sudden deceleration or rotation.


A hematoma is a collection of blood in the brain or between the brain and the skull caused by damaged blood vessels. The risks associated with hematomas can vary depending on their location and size. While small hematomas are usually not a cause for concern and can resolve on their own, larger or more severe hematomas can pose significant dangers and complications. 

Treatment options may include drainage of the hematoma, surgical intervention, and management of any underlying medical conditions that contributed to its formation. Prompt medical evaluation and treatment are typically necessary for larger or more serious hematomas, especially those that occur as a result of car accidents.

Skull Fracture

A car accident can break the hard bones in the skull, particularly if a victim’s head strikes the window, doorframe, or dashboard. In a depressed skull fracture, the pieces of the broken skull point inward and place pressure on the brain. A skull fracture may accompany other head injuries, such as concussions or contusions.

Penetrating Brain Injury

In some car accidents, objects from within the vehicle or debris from the crash can penetrate the skull and directly damage the brain. Due to the invasive nature and high risk of infection, penetrating brain injuries are likely to have long-lasting or fatal outcomes.

Common Symptoms of Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

While specific symptoms vary depending on  the type and severity of the brain injury, there are some common symptoms that individuals should be aware of if they or someone they know has been involved in a car accident:

  • Loss of Consciousness: An individual losing consciousness even briefly after a car accident is a sign of potential brain injury. 
  • Headaches: Persistent or severe headaches can be an early sign of a brain injury. Unfortunately, victims suffering other common car accident injuries may ignore their headaches, resulting in delayed intervention.
  • Confusion: Difficulty in concentrating, memory problems, and disorientation are common indicators of brain trauma.
  • Nausea or Vomiting: These symptoms can occur due to disrupting the brain’s normal functions.
  • Mood Changes: Irritability, anxiety, depression, and mood swings can all be linked to brain injuries.
  • Sensory Disturbances: Vision, hearing, taste, or smell changes may indicate brain damage. A victim could also begin bleeding from the ears or nose.
  • Motor Impairment: Weakness or numbness in the limbs, coordination problems, and difficulty keeping balance can all be signs of brain injury.
  • Seizures: Seizures or convulsions are abnormal electrical activity in the brain and can occur following a brain injury.

Long-Term Costs of Brain Injuries in Car Crashes

Brain injuries can result in significant physical, emotional, and financial burdens for affected individuals and their families. While there are many excellent brain injury treatment centers in Indiana, these services are expensive and may not be covered by some insurance policies. 

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are among the most significant and financial burdens for people with brain injuries. The cost of diagnostic procedures, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, and ongoing appointments required can quickly add up. The financial impact of brain injuries can be long-lasting, extending over many years to include follow-up appointments, specialist consultations, and assistive devices like wheelchairs or mobility aids for those with severe impairments. These ongoing expenses can strain an individual’s finances and deplete savings.

Rehabilitation and Therapy

Recovery from a brain injury is often a long and arduous process that involves various forms of rehabilitation and therapy. Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive rehabilitation may be necessary to help individuals regain lost functions and adapt to their new circumstances. The cost of these therapies can be substantial, and the duration of treatment can extend for years, further contributing to the long-term financial burden.

Loss of Income and Employability

Many individuals who suffer brain injuries in car accidents face a considerable upheaval in their lives. Depending on the extent of the injury, some may find it difficult or even impossible to go back to their previous jobs. Some are forced to switch to part-time work, change industries, or leave employment altogether. 

Unfortunately, brain injury survivors often suffer drastically reduced lifetime earnings while their medical bills steadily rise. This decrease in income can profoundly affect an individual’s financial stability, making it challenging for them to provide for themselves and their loved ones. A victim’s loved ones might have to bear the financial burden of a brain injury, including long-term medical care, housing, or caregiver expenses.

Caregiver Expenses

For individuals with severe brain injuries, caregiving becomes a critical need. Family members often step into the role of caregivers, which can require them to take time off work or even leave their jobs entirely. This leads to a loss of income and additional expenses related to caregiving, such as medical supplies, home modifications, and transportation for medical appointments. The emotional toll on caregivers is also significant, impacting their physical and mental health.

Pain and Suffering

The pain and suffering individuals with brain injuries experience can be immeasurable. These injuries can lead to chronic pain, cognitive impairment, depression, mood disorders, and a diminished quality of life. While it is challenging to quantify the cost of pain and suffering, it is a real and enduring consequence of brain injuries that can affect an individual’s daily life and overall well-being.

Legal and Insurance Costs

The legal and insurance aspects of a car accident-related brain injury can be complex, and many people need help navigating the process. However, hiring an attorney to negotiate with insurance companies or pursue a personal injury claim can lead to legal fees and court-related expenses. Additionally, if a settlement is reached, it may only cover part of the costs, leaving individuals and their families to shoulder the remaining financial burden.

Brain Injuries in Car Accidents Can Cause Lifelong Difficulties

Although the damage from a car accident can potentially last the rest of a victim’s life, there is a strict limit on the timeframe to file an injury claim. In Indiana, injury victims have a specific window to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident. Once the statute of limitations has passed and if a lawsuit has not been filed, the court could grant a defendant’s motion to dismiss your case—preventing you and your loved ones from getting the financial help you need to survive.

Our legal team recognizes the effect that serious injuries can have on your life. We’re here to assist you through the legal process, helping you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

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