In our recent blog, “Football season is fun; Brain injuries are not!” we explained how concussions are actually traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). We also explained how a blow to the head can result in a TBI.
In this blog, we will focus on how common personal injury accidents, such as slip and fall, trip and fall, premises liability, car, truck, motorcycle or bicycling accidents, can result in traumatic brain injuries.
Slip and Fall Accidents and TBIs
The leading cause of TBI are falls (47%) (CDC). A “slip and fall” accident is when someone slips on a slippery surface such as ice on a sidewalk or on a spilled liquid in a store and falls down. In snowy states like Colorado, ice-related falls are common. Though black ice is virtually invisible, be extra careful navigating stairs, sidewalks, and entrances to buildings during winter months, as that is where many slip and fall accidents tend to occur.
A “trip and fall” accident is when someone trips on an object such as a hole in a parking lot or a raised edge of a sidewalk and falls down.
Although many people are able to protect their head when they fall down, other people are not so fortunate – enough that falls are the leading cause of TBI.
Head Strikes by Objects and TBI
The second leading cause of TBI are head strikes by objects; e.g., bumping into an object, getting hit by an object, falling objects, assaults.
Most big box stores and many other stores stack merchandise floor to ceiling. A stack of unstable merchandise is an accident waiting to happen. If a customer gets hit on the head by falling merchandise, then the merchant may be legally responsible under premises liability law.
Vehicle Accidents and TBI
Car and Truck Accidents
The third leading cause of TBI are motor vehicle accidents (14%), but they make up the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths (19%) (CDC).
A TBI can occur during a motor vehicle accident when a passenger’s head strikes an object like a steering wheel or windshield. The most common injury in accidents to passengers in cars or trucks is a whiplash injury. Most people think of whiplash as a neck injury, but whiplash can cause a TBI because the force of the accident can cause the brain to hit the front and back or sides of the skull. This can cause a contusion or brain hemorrhage—both of which are not visible.
Motorcycle and Bicycle Accidents
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, motorcycle operators who are age 18 and over are not required to wear helmets in Colorado. However, motorcycle riders under the age of 18 must wear DOT-approved helmets. While adults can ride a motorcycle without a helmet, their risk of a TBI goes up if involved in an accident.
You’ve probably heard the slogan, “helmets save lives.” Well, it’s not just a slogan: it’s true. Want to see the evidence? Check out these scary post-accident photos that prove that helmets save lives.
And helmets don’t just save lives, they reduce your risk of face and neck injuries and increase your odds of recovery if you sustain a TBI [according to a study entitled Motorcycle Use and Head and Facial Injuries done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)].
So, what about bicycle helmets? Though some argue that helmeted bicyclists give motorists a false sense of security, and thus drive too closely causing more accidents, a major study from bike helmet use around the world concluded that helmets are a good idea—especially to reduce fatal injuries. According to helmets.org, bicycle helmets may reduce the risk of death of bicyclists. Here are some of their scary bicycle accident injury statistics:
- 74% of fatal bicycle crashes involved a head injury.
- 97% of those who died in a bicycle accident were not wearing a helmet
- 87% of those with serious injuries from a bicycle accident were not wearing a helmet.
- Wearing a helmet reduces the odds of head injury by 50%.
- Wearing a helmet reduces the odds of face, head, or neck injury by 33%.
- 87% of those who were killed in a bicycling accident were 20 years or older.
TBI: The Invisible Injury
Most TBI injuries are “closed head” injuries – meaning that the skull has not been fractured or penetrated but that the brain inside the skull has nevertheless been injured; for example, a boxer who is “knocked out” or a football player who has chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (CTE). Because the injury is to the brain inside the skull, closed head TBI is an invisible injury.
Symptoms of TBI
Although TBI may be invisible, it can be recognized by its symptoms.
The symptoms of TBI may include the following:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting,
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Problems with speech
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
What to Do If You Have or Suspect TBI Symptoms
- Seek medical attention immediately, preferably from a TBI specialist such as a neurologist.
- Ask your family or friends to meet with your medical providers to discuss your TBI symptoms. They will often be more aware of your symptoms than you are.
- Take notes of your symptoms, keep a calendar of your medical appointments, make To Do lists, and ask your family and friends to keep checking in with you and to be your support group.
What to Do If Your TBI was Caused by Someone’s Carelessness
- Seek legal advice sooner rather than later, preferably from an attorney who has significant experience in handling TBI cases.
- Provide your attorney with information regarding the accident, your symptoms, and your medical providers.
- Provide your attorney with contact information of the members of your support group.
We Are Here to Help
We have helped dozens of TBI clients over the years to get the medical attention and resources that they need to get back on track. The attorneys at Mac Hester Law are knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate. Contact us today for a free consultation.