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Traumatic Brain Injuries in Car Accidents: Causes, Symptoms, and Liability

Traumatic Brain Injuries in Car Accidents: Causes, Symptoms, and Liability

Shapiro Law Team March 28, 2023 Car Accidents,Personal injury

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, a minimum of 2.8 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries annually. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur due to severe impact during a car accident. This sudden impact can cause a passenger’s brain to sustain mild, moderate, or severe damages that may be life-threatening.

Keep reading to learn more about common symptoms and treatments for brain injuries that result from car accidents.

What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Per the Mayo Clinic, TBIs typically “result from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body.” Objects that penetrate through brain tissue—like shattered skull fragments and windshield glass—can also result in a TBI. While concussions and other minor TBIs only cause temporary damage to the brain, comas and other major TBIs can cause permanent brain damage and may be fatal. The type of TBI—mild, moderate, or severe—depends largely on the severity of the initial impact.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

TBIs are caused by some form of physical trauma to the head during a car accident. Car accidents that result in TBIs can involve motor vehicle drivers, cyclists, and/or pedestrians.

Common types of car accidents include the following:

  • Rear-end collisions
  • Single-car accidents
  • Head-on crashes
  • Side-impact collisions
  • Motor vehicle pileups

Below is a list of common causes of these car accidents:

  • Driving too fast
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain prescription medications
  • Driving in the wrong lane
  • Poor visibility
  • Distracted driving

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

TBIs can result in a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. Some symptoms are immediate while others are delayed. Here is a list of common symptoms for mild, moderate, and severe TBIs.

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Seizures
  • Pupil dilation
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Lack of hand-eye coordination
  • Blind spots or double vision
  • Itchy, tingly, or painful skin

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Agitation
  • Feeling dazed, confused, or disoriented
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Slurred speech

Emotional Symptoms

  • PTSD
  • Mood changes or swings
  • Increased anxiety or depression
  • Irritability
  • Lack of empathy
  • Anger
  • Insomnia

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping too much
  • Lack of self-control
  • Lack of awareness
  • Engagement in risky behavior
  • Difficulty in social situations
  • Verbal or physical outbursts


Diagnosing and Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries


A doctor must diagnose the severity of a TBI before recommending treatment. Determining whether a car accident victim has sustained a TBI involves a series of diagnostic tests. The first test a doctor uses to diagnose the presence and severity of a TBI is the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). A patient receives a score between 3 and 15. Below is a breakdown of what scores are associated with which type of TBI:

  • Mild: 13 to 15
  • Moderate: 9 to 12
  • Severe: 8 and below

The GCS scores a patient’s ability to:

  • Open their eyes
  • Respond to questions appropriately
  • Follow basic commands

Other diagnostic tests used for TBIs, either individually or in tandem, include the following:

  • Computerized Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)
  • Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Monitoring


After diagnosing a patient with a TBI, the doctor can begin treatment. The goal of TBI treatment is to resuscitate and support the patient, minimize secondary injuries, and help them transition to recovery. Proper treatment depends on the severity of the TBI that was sustained.

Below is a list of common treatment options for each type of TBI:


  • Ample rest
  • Pain medication for headaches

Moderate to Severe

  • Medication for sedation, pain, intracranial pressure, seizures, and infection
  • Surgery for skull fractures, brain bleeds, hematomas, and intracranial pressure. The three most common surgeries are a craniotomy, tracheotomy, and Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) Tube.

Patients with life-threatening TBIs are placed in a neurocritical care unit (NCU) where they are closely monitored by a medical team.

Rehabilitation for TBI patients

The effects of a TBI can be long-lasting, requiring some patients to receive rehabilitation and long-term care. Rehabilitation helps patients recover from the traumatic effects of a severe injury to the brain. Treatment plans can be designed and altered to fit specific patient needs.

Rehabilitative treatment can include one or a combination of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychiatric care
  • Social support

Traumatic Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

Liability for Traumatic Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

One rule of thumb when you get into a car accident, whether minor or severe, is to never admit fault. Anything you say at the scene can be used against you in any future court proceedings. Potential defendants in car accident cases that involve a TBI can be another driver, a car manufacturer, or another party.

If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The funds can help cover medical bills, rehabilitative care, and other expenses associated with the accident

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

The best way to prevent TBIs and car accidents altogether is to follow these safe driving tips:

  1. Wear a seat belt at all times
  2. Place young children in the back seat in an appropriate car or booster seat
  3. Ensure all airbags are up to inspection codes
  4. Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and certain prescription medications
  5. Be aware of your surroundings

Bicyclists and motorcyclists should wear a durable helmet and other necessary protective equipment at all times.

Seeking immediate medical attention after a car accident is crucial for a few reasons:

  1. The doctor can detect and treat TBI symptoms early to prevent further brain damage
  2. You reduce your risk of experiencing severe symptoms
  3. You can use official medical records as evidence when filing a lawsuit against the defendant

Scottsdale’s #1 Car Accident and Brain Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered a head or brain injury from a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Let Shapiro Law Team in Arizona advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive maximum compensation. We’ll cut through all the red tape, so you don’t have to—including communicating with your insurance and medical providers. When you trust our team to provide legal assistance in a brain injury case, you can rest assured knowing you’ll receive Superior Representation.

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