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Invisible Wounds: Traumatic Brain Injuries After a Car Accident

Man suffering from headache, sitting on couch at home, massaging head temples, having strong migraine, feeling tired, upset and stressed.

It’s possible to survive a horrendous crash without any cuts, bruises, or broken bones and still become permanently disabled for life. Such was the case for Dr. Nicole Eastman, who was driving to work for her shift at the hospital.

A tractor-trailer truck crashed into her vehicle, striking it multiple times. Emergency personnel were shocked to find Dr. Eastman alive with no visible injuries. At the emergency department, nothing seemed amiss aside from a headache and back pain.

She appeared to have escaped unscathed.

It was only after Dr. Eastman returned home that the pain in her skull and back increased to the point that it became unbearable. A return trip to the hospital revealed that she had sustained a severe concussion, also known as a closed traumatic brain injury (TBI), and her life was irrevocably altered as a result.

The Silent Epidemic

Each year, nearly 1.4 million Americans go to the emergency room for TBIs alone or in conjunction with other injuries. Many victims of TBIs are not visibly injured, and brain injury symptoms may not be apparent until hours or days later. The longer a TBI escapes detection, the worse a person’s long-term symptoms may become.

Detecting a TBI is critical for a person’s health and recovery. Failing to recognize TBI symptoms or hoping the injury will heal on its own can exacerbate symptoms or lead to a secondary brain injury. A secondary brain injury (sometimes known as second impact syndrome) can have catastrophic or even fatal consequences.

It’s imperative TBI victims receive the proper treatment and care for their injuries to reduce the short and long-term symptoms.

Car Accidents Are the Third-Leading Cause of TBIs

Depending on the severity of the crash and brain injury, a person may suffer either a mild TBI or concussion or a moderate to severe TBI. People with mild TBIs can usually recover at home while receiving medical checkups and evaluations. Those who suffer moderate or severe TBIs, like Dr. Eastman, will likely need ongoing care to assist with their recovery and any long-term effects.

Concussion/Mild TBI Symptoms

  • Sensitivity to light/noise
  • Dizziness/balance problems
  • Feeling tired
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vision problems
  • Attention/concentration problems
  • Feeling slow/foggy
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Irritable/easily angered
  • Feeling more emotional
  • Sadness/depression
  • Sleeping less or more than usual
  • Difficulty falling asleep

Moderate/Severe TBI Symptoms

  • Unconsciousness and amnesia
  • Difficulty understanding and thinking clearly
  • Trouble communicating and learning new things
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering information
  • Weakness in arms and legs
  • Problems with coordination and balance
  • Problems with hearing and vision
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Feeling more emotional than usual
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Sadness/depression
  • Feeling more angry/aggressive than usual
  • Difficulty controlling behavior
  • Personality changes
  • More impulsive than usual

One of the toughest parts of living with the after-effects of TBI is that the injury is invisible. Many times, people cannot tell if a person with a TBI is disabled just by looking at them. It can be frustrating at times, especially if the person is told they “look fine” or they should just “suck it up.”

Any injury to the brain is serious. A person who suffers a brain injury after a crash deserves the best medical care possible.

Surviving a Moderate or Severe TBI

The injury to Dr. Eastman’s brain changed her life. She had to go on disability and learn how to live at a much slower pace. Everyday tasks that were once a breeze were suddenly challenging.

The five-year outcomes for persons with a moderate or severe TBI paint a sobering picture of just how serious this type of injury is for those living with it: 26% improved, 22% stayed about the same, 30% became worse, and 22% died.

Therapy and rehabilitation can help TBI victims improve some of their symptoms over time. For many though, their symptoms become lifelong disabilities they must learn to live with.

Dr. Eastman still deals with recurrent headaches, fatigue, and forgetfulness. She cannot stand for more than 30 minutes at a time. Despite these difficulties, she says that sharing her story and offering encouragement to others has helped with her recovery.

Legal Help for TBI Victims

If you or a loved one suffered a concussion, TBI, or traumatic head injury after a car accident, don’t suffer in silence. You may be able to receive financial compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical costs.

At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we specialize in helping accident victims file personal injury claims. We also connect TBI patients with certified brain injury specialists, concussion experts, and experienced neurologists.

We understand how difficult it can be to deal with the symptoms and pain after a terrible wreck. It feels overwhelming — the last thing you probably want to do is talk to an insurance adjuster. So let us take care of that hassle for you.

Our passionate team of attorneys understands not only what you need to do immediately after suffering a TBI in a crash, but the next steps you need to take in the weeks and months ahead. When we ask for a settlement from the insurance company, we don’t just take into account lost wages and medical bills; we also look at the costs of future medical care that a TBI survivor will need.

For a free consultation regarding your TBI accident case, contact our Atlanta personal injury law firm for compassionate and quick legal services. We can help you get started on the road to recovery today.

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