WHOA: Here’s what a simple car accident can do to your brain…

Types of head or brain injuries caused by auto accidents, including TBI

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries and death, especially among younger people. Worldwide, over 50 million people are injured in car accidents every year. 1 Despite their frequency, many of these collisions are the result of driver negligence and as such could have been completely avoided. Instead, for millions, a split second can cause lasting emotional and physical harm, disability, and impairment. If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile collision, you should waste no time in seeking legal advice after immediate medical care, particularly if you require the services of a head injury attorney. Particularly in the case of a head trauma, an experienced brain injury attorney can be vital in helping you negotiate the complicated legal, medical, and insurance issues following your car accident.

Head trauma is one of the most common types of injury sustained in every car accident. 2 3
Because of the head’s wide range of motion, sudden deceleration and acceleration will often cause the head to hit the steering wheel, windshield, or other hard parts of the car.
In case of a brain injury, the most common mechanism is the impact of brain on the interior walls of the skull. Under normal circumstances, the brain is protected from minor impacts by a small amount of fluid inside the skull. This fluid prevents the contact of the brain and interior walls of the skull during a minor blow or accidents (for example, minor falls, hit with a ball, etc.). However, auto accidents involve high velocity and energy, producing impacts that render the fluid unhelpful to prevent contact of the brain to the skull.

During a car accident, the human body will suddenly accelerate or decelerate, and the brain cannot follow those motions with the same speed. When a car is hit from behind, the human body will be moved forward, while the brain remains in the same position for a part of a second. Even this small amount of time is enough for the brain to hit the back part of the skull. In the case of sudden deceleration (when the car hits an obstacle), the body will be decelerated or fully stopped within a few seconds. The brain will retain inertia and will continue moving forward until it hits the front part of the skull.

During high energy impacts, the human brain will move inside the skull, hitting the walls and causing brain injuries on both sides of the brain (site of impact and the opposite side). These types of injuries are also known as a coup and contrecoup injuries. 4

There are several types of brain injuries which can occur in car accidents, depending on the severity of injury and injured tissues.

Lacerations caused to the head

The most common car accident head injuries are lacerations, which occur in over 40% people involved in accidents. 5

Some deeper lacerations require stitches. But generally speaking, they are the least dangerous injuries, and in most cases, they heal within a couple of weeks.


Another common injury in car accidents is a concussion. It is caused by a direct blow to the head. In the case of a concussion, the person will be confused, he/she won’t be able to remember the accident or the period after the accident, and there will always be a period of lost consciousness right after the accident. In most cases, the person will have a “hole” in their memory, but as time goes on, he/she will start remembering the accident. Concussions usually don’t lead to any major issues, but in the case of multiple concussions, they can have severe consequences. 4

On the other hand, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause severe brain damage which can result in devastating consequences or even death. 6

Anoxic brain injury

Lack of oxygen, which lasts for a longer period of time and is caused by any reason, causes brain cells to die. The severity of the brain injury will depend on the time the person goes without oxygen. In the case of car accidents, anoxic brain injuries are usually caused by drowning or by heart or lung injury.

Diffuse axonal lesion

A diffuse axonal lesion is usually caused by a sudden strong rotation of the head, which is common in car accidents. During these movements, the brain tissue will stretch beyond its limits and tear. Most of the affected tissues are actually fibers (axons), which connect different brain cells. As a consequence, the brain will lose control over the affected part. Diffuse axonal lesion can cause temporary issues, which can withdraw after the brain establish control once again over the affected part. In some cases, if the extent of injury is large, the damage will be permanent. 7

Cerebral contusion

Cerebral contusion is also known as a bruise of the brain, and it is caused by an impact of the brain to the inner sides of the skull. A contusion develops directly on the site of impact, usually on frontal or occipital lobes. 7 Smaller contusions resolve themselves on their own. However, larger brain contusions cause the death of affected brain tissue, and they require surgical intervention in order to remove dead tissue.


A hematoma is a collection of blood, and it can occur in the brain after a closed head injury. In case of head injury, blood vessels inside the skull can tear, causing the blood to collect inside the skull. Depending on the site of blood collection, different types of hematoma can occur (subdural hematoma, epidural hematoma, intracerebral hematoma, SAH). 4

How is traumatic brain injury (TBI) qualified?

The Glasgow Comma Scale is widely used to provide qualifications for the severity of the traumatic brain injury. The examiner will check for verbal, eye, and motor responses and rate them based on the given reactions. The maximum number of points is 15.

Individuals who have a GCS score 13-15 have a mild or minor brain injury. Individuals with a GCS between 8 or 9 and 12 have a moderate brain injury, and individuals with a GCS under 8 or 9 have a severe brain injury. 8

Don’t Wait. Act Now.

Car accidents resulting in brain injuries can cause devasting and enduring harm to accident victims. If you or your loved ones have been injured in a car accident resulting from the actions of another driver, you can seek representation from a brain injuries lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation for your bodily injuries, physical pain and mental anguish, disfigurement and deformity, inconvenience, medical expenses, earnings lost, and property damage.

If you are looking for a brain injury lawyer in Virginia, please feel free to reach out to us to schedule a free consultation. The professionals at Correll Law Firm, PC are available for a free case evaluation to help you explore pursuing your personal injury case and receiving the compensation you deserve.  The best way to contact us is reaching out at the number at the top of our screen or filling out this short contact form.

1.    “Road Traffic Injuries.” World Health Organization. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.
2.    “Types Of Car Accident Injuries – Findlaw.” Findlaw. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.
3.    Farghaly, Afaf & El-Khayat, Roshdy & Awad, Wafaa & George, Safaa. (2018). Head Injuries in Road Traffic Accidents.
4.    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Injuries; Poisoning – MSD Manual Professional Edition. (2018). MSD Manual Professional Edition. Retrieved 27 May 2018, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/traumatic-brain-injury- tbi/traumatic-brain-injury-tbi
5.    Brookes, M et al. “Head Injuries In Accident And Emergency Departments. How Different Are Children From Adults?.” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 44.2 (1990): 147-151. Web. 27 May 2018.
6.    “TBI: Get The Facts | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center .” Cdc.gov. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.
7.    Mendelow, A. D., and G. M. Teasdale. “Pathophysiology Of Head Injuries.” British Journal of Surgery 70.11 (1983): 641-650. Web. 27 May 2018.
8.    “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Definition, Epidemiology, Pathophysiology: Overview, Epidemiology, Primary Injury.” Emedicine.medscape.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 May 2018.