Approximately one million people in the United States are treated for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, and an estimated 5.3 million people live with a TBI-related disability. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of TBI, particularly when cars strike pedestrians. Unlike broken bones or cuts, traumatic brain injuries may be permanent.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is most often caused by a blow or jolt to the head. An object that penetrates the brain tissue can also cause a TBI.
In a violent accident, such as a car striking a pedestrian, the primary brain injury typically happens at the moment of impact, when the brain is pushed against the skull, sometimes crashing back and forth. The injury may involve part of the brain or the entire brain, and can include bleeding, bruising, or tearing of nerve fibers.
The secondary brain injury occurs after the initial impact of the brain against the inside of the skull. The brain swells, which increases pressure within the head. The swelling may injure parts of the brain that were not injured by the primary trauma. This injury can happen gradually and can happen up to 5 days after the injury. In some cases, the secondary injury may become more serious than the primary injury.
The physical damage to the brain resulting from the primary or secondary injury may include:
- A contusion (or bruising) of the brain.
- A diffuse axonal injury (DAI), which happens when the brain bounces around inside the skull, damaging the nerve axons.
- A Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, when bleeding occurs in the space surrounding the brain, which is normally filled with cerebrospinal fluid and which acts as a cushion.
- A hematoma, when a blood vessel ruptures and blog clots within the brain.
Traumatic brain injuries are also typically classified by severity:
- Mild: the injured person is awake, but may have a brief loss of consciousness, disorientation, or a headache.
- Moderate: the injured person may lose consciousness for approximately 20 minutes to 6 hours and be lethargic when awake.
- Severe: the person is unconscious for more than 6 hours.
Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be obvious, or they may be difficult to detect, depending on the severity and location of the injury. Here are some signs of a traumatic brain injury to watch for. Note that many of these symptoms may occur even if the brain injury is mild to moderate.
If the injury is primarily on the left side of the brain:
- Problems with remembering words
- Problems understanding words or speaking, slowed speech
- Impaired control over movements on the right side of the body
- Faulty logic
- Anxiety and depression
If the injury is primarily on the right side of the brain:
- Impaired control over movements on the left side of the body
- Loss of “big picture” problem solving
- Spatial and visual problems
- Visual memory disturbance
Diffuse injuries, or injuries to both sides of the brain:
- Problems thinking or concentrating
- Confusion or disorientation
- Unable to handle changes in normal routines
- Cognitive impairment, such as trouble making decisions, or learning new things
Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries
If you are a pedestrian and have been struck by a motor vehicle, the force of the blow to your head may have resulted in bleeding in the brain, a skull fracture, or other dangerous types of brain damage leading to a TBI. Each case is unique; however, people who survive a brain injury often have long-term physical and mental disabilities, as well as changes in their emotions and personality, that require specialized, long-term treatment. The treatments for TBI after a pedestrian accident can include rest, medication, intensive care, surgery, and physical, cognitive and occupational therapy.
Causes of Pedestrian Motor Vehicle Accidents
Common causes of pedestrian accidents caused by motor vehicles include:
- Drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or other substances
- Distracted drivers
- Driver’s failure to stop completely at traffic lights or stop signs
- Driver’s failure to make sure the crosswalk is clear of pedestrians
What Should You Do If You Have Suffered a Pedestrian Traumatic Brain Injury?
If you have been injured as a pedestrian, you should seek medical attention immediately. Even if you do not believe your injuries are serious, you may develop symptoms later. In some cases, a brain injury may not be immediately apparent. Without proper medical attention, diagnosis, and treatment, it is hard to predict future medical complications and costs.
Record as much information about the accident as possible, as soon as possible. And, soon after your accident, speak to an attorney with experience representing pedestrian accident victims with TBI. Survivors of traumatic brain injuries may be entitled to recover medical expenses, rehabilitation and therapy costs, pain and suffering damages, and more. A victim of a pedestrian traumatic brain injury may have a cause of action against the person or persons who are at fault in the accident. They typically need the assistance and resources of an attorney to gather the necessary evidence and determine their rights to compensation.
A pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident every eight minutes. Studies show that children, the elderly, and those of lower socioeconomic status are especially vulnerable. Brain injuries are complicated, devastating and can change your life in many ways. A person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury may not look any different but may be living with long-term or permanent disabilities such as difficulty processing information, communicating, or completing assignments. Some people are left with severe psychological problems, such as emotional distress, dependent behavior, depression, anxiety, anger or aggression. He or she may need temporary or permanent help to perform the tasks of everyday living.
If you or someone you love has been suffered a TBI as a pedestrian, seek out an experienced, compassionate attorney to assess your case and protect your rights, both now and in the future. For more information, call Abels & Annes, P.C. at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.