In 2019, there were over 269,000 people injured in California car accidents. There are over 1 million hospital visits each year throughout the country due to slip and fall accidents. What do these two types of accidents have in common? They are both common causes of head injury.
Classifying a Head Injury
The term head injury is a broad descriptor for a large number of injuries that affect the skull, brain, and other various parts of the head. These injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in adults. Head injuries include bruises, lacerations, concussions, bumps, internal bleeding, and fractures, and can range from mild to life-threatening. A head injury is also commonly called traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms often vary depending on the severity level of the injury.
If you have suffered a head injury after a car crash, fall, or other accident, you may question whether your injury is severe enough to warrant medical attention. It is always safer to have any injury evaluated by a doctor or other medical professional, but this is especially true when dealing with head injuries.
Head Injury Symptoms
Car accidents and falls are two of the most common causes of head injuries, but they are far from the only ones. Work accidents, sports injuries, and medical malpractice incidents are also frequent sources of head injuries. How your injury occurred can have some effect on your symptoms, but the symptoms you experience will largely depend on the classification of your head injury. They can include:
- Memory loss
- Changes in sensory perception
- Pupil dilation
- Numbness in fingers or toes
- Ringing in ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Visible injury on brain scans
- Vision changes
- Difficulty sleeping
This is not an exhaustive list, as brain and head injuries can manifest in a myriad of ways. This list also does not include the long-term effects of a head injury. A TBI can cause permanent health problems, including trouble concentrating, difficulty regulating emotions, reduced reasoning capacity, paralysis, and loss of cognitive function.
Keep in mind that symptoms may manifest differently in babies and young children. Watch for changes in habits, such as eating, nursing, or sleeping. If you suspect your baby has suffered a head injury, other signs to look for include persistent crying, irritability, excessive sleepiness, loss of a learned skill like potty training, and no longer showing interest in toys.
Head Injury Symptom Onset
One of the most dangerous things about head injuries is that symptoms do not always present immediately after an accident. How long after a head injury can symptoms occur? It can take days or even weeks to become symptomatic. The stress of wondering whether your condition will worsen can take a tremendous toll on your overall health, which is another reason that immediate medical attention is a good idea after a head injury.
Concussions are among the most common head injuries and frequently occur in car accidents. Direct contact with the head is not necessary for a concussion to develop. The force of a sudden stop or other change in direction can also cause a concussion. While most severe concussions will be symptomatic immediately, often with a loss of consciousness, milder injuries can easily go undiagnosed. Headaches, blurry vision, and confusion may develop later on, and delayed medical care will only make recovery more difficult.
When symptoms do occur after a head injury, they often occur immediately following the accident or a few minutes later. However, that does not guarantee that a lack of substantial symptoms right after your accident means you have a clean bill of health. It is not uncommon for an accident victim’s condition to change in the days following their crash or fall. Head injuries can cause numerous complications, such as blood clots or stroke if left untreated. Always seek medical attention if you suspect you’ve suffered a head injury.
Head Injuries and Personal Injury Claims
If your head injury is a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct, you may be able to recover compensation for the numerous damages you’ve suffered. Head injuries are complex medical issues that have the potential to affect every aspect of your health and life. A personal injury claim can help you recover the financial support you need to focus on your recovery.
California personal injury law allows victims to seek two types of damages – compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages consist of economic and non-economic damages. Medical bills, lost wages, and property damages are economic damages. Emotional distress and pain and suffering are two examples of non-economic damages. The medical care you received for your head injury, along with accessibility or therapeutic tools that were necessary for your recovery, would fall into the economic damages category. These damages are more easily quantified because they often already have a price associated with them, unlike non-economic damages which have subjective value.
Punitive damages are not as common as compensatory. In select scenarios, when the court determines that the at-fault party is guilty of malice, oppression, or fraud, punitive damages may be granted in addition to compensatory damages as a way to set an example and punish the responsible person.
Recovering from a head injury is often a long and challenging journey. If you need help navigating the legal aspect of your accident, contact the Accident Network Law Group for a free consultation.