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Delayed Symptoms of a Head Injury Following a Car Accident

Understanding Delayed Symptoms of TBIs

Walking away from a severe car crash “without a scratch” is not a common occurrence. Whether a “fender-bender” or a devastating accident, not showing any signs or symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) right away doesn't mean that you haven’t suffered one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of all traumatic brain injuries relating to hospitalization. Some symptoms of a head injury after a car crash may not show up for hours or days later. Here are the warning signs you need to know.

Traumatic Brain Injury Classifications

There are two types of traumatic brain injuries. Read on to learn about the difference between each and the associated TBIs.

  • Open TBI - Also referred to as a penetrating injury, an open TBI happens when the scalp or skull is penetrated by a foreign object, causing a fracture. When a foreign object goes through the skull and enters the brain, brain damage can occur. Symptoms vary, depending on which parts of the brain are affected.
  • Closed TBI - When an outside force impacts the head, but the skull is not penetrated, broken, or fractured, it is considered a closed TBI. For example, hitting your head against the windshield or dashboard in a car accident can damage the brain, but not necessarily cause a skull fracture. Like an open TBI, symptoms may vary depending on the brain area that has been affected.

Here’s what you need to know about these common TBIs and the symptoms associated with each:


A concussion can be the result of a jolt or blow to the head. Whether the head is hit by an external object or is forced into a car window after impact, concussions are a common car accident injury. Here are the warning signs to look for after being involved in a car crash:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue/drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness

The following symptoms of a concussion may not show up for days after a car accident:

  • Loss of concentration or memory
  • Irritability or changes in personality
  • Light or noise sensitivity
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depressed moods
  • A diminished sense of taste and smell

Brain Contusion

A brain contusion can happen when there is a direct blow to the head, such as being struck by an external object or impact with a fixed object, such as a steering wheel or car window. Here are some symptoms that may or may not show up right away:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Feeling emotional
  • Depressed moods
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Slurred speech/difficulty forming sentences

Diffuse Axonal Injury

A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a serious traumatic brain injury. It happens when the brain shifts violently inside the skull, causing the brain’s axons (long connecting fibers to the brain) are damaged as the brain accelerates and decelerates inside the skull during a car crash.

People who suffer a DAI can often be left in a coma. A diffuse axonal injury may be difficult to detect in CT or MRI scans as the brain changes may be small and unapparent. However, despite the minor brain changes, complications can be considerable. Here are the symptoms of a DAI to watch out for.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping/sleeping longer than usual
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination

The Long-Term Consequences of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Sustaining a traumatic brain injury after a car crash can result in life-long emotional and physical complications, such as:

  • Paralysis
  • Muscle spasticity/uncontrolled movements/stiffness
  • Difficulties with speech/talking
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vision impairment
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Memory issues

The Emotional Impact of a Traumatic Brain Injury

People who suffer a traumatic brain injury often face emotional issues and problems with social relationships and interactions. They may feel sad and frustrated as a response to this life-altering condition. In many cases, victims of a TBI will feel overwhelmed during the recovery process and may also suffer from anxiety and depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) relating to a car accident.

Some emotional behaviors that a person may experience after a TBI may include:

  • Verbal or physical outbursts
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Risky behaviors
  • Lack of motivation
  • Apathy
  • Negative attitude
  • Inflexible and rigid behavior

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible — whether you are feeling unharmed or not. When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, time is of the essence when it comes to treatment and recovery.

Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a Car Accident? We Can Help.

Being involved in a car crash is a devastating and overwhelming experience on its own — and when a victim sustains a severe brain injury, it can make it that much more overwhelming. Dealing with a traumatic brain injury is not only emotionally taxing for you and your family, but it can bring about financial difficulties as well.

If you or a loved one has suffered severe injuries in a car accident, you have the right to pursue compensation. Let us help recover the money you deserve. Our experienced car accident lawyers understand how to overcome the most complex challenges when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. When it comes to the insurance companies and their tactics on low-ball settlements, we’ll fight back to ensure you get the proper compensation you deserve.

Contact Bandas Law Firm, P.C.. today at (361) 238-2789 to learn how we can assist you.