Traumatic Brain Injury after a Car Accident: What You Need to Know

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very common injury and a major cause of death and disability. Even a mild TBI can cause short-term symptoms that last for weeks or months. A person with a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury may experience life-long effects that impact their quality of life.

Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. Here, we tell you all you need to know about traumatic brain injury after a car accident.

What Is a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, happens during a violent blow or jolt to the head. A TBI can result from a fall, but car accidents are a common cause, such as when a shunt causes the body to whip back and forth (whiplash) or side to side. This results in the brain colliding with the skull and can lead to bruising, bleeding, and even permanent damage.

Types of Brain Injuries from a Car Accident

There are three main types of traumatic brain injury: mild, moderate, and severe.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

A mild traumatic brain usually only temporarily affects the brain cells. “Mild” may imply “minor,” but it’s vital to remember that any TBI is serious.

If you’ve ever experienced a concussion after a bang to the head, a fall, or a previous crash, you’ve had a traumatic brain injury. In most cases, a concussion causes temporary effects. You might have headaches, blurred vision, and some difficulty concentrating, but these typically subside after a couple of weeks. In some cases, though, it can affect brain function over the long term and leave you fatigued, depressed, and unable to focus.

Other symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury after a car accident include nausea, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.

Moderate and Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can cause symptoms of a mild TBI, but you will also experience additional symptoms. The main marker of a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury after a car accident is loss of consciousness. This can range from several minutes to hours. If your head injury results in more than 30 minutes of loss of consciousness, you have a moderate TBI. If you experience unconsciousness for more than 24 hours, you have a severe traumatic brain injury.

Other symptoms of moderate and severe TBIs include:

  • Persistent headache
  • Convulsions
  • Clear fluid from the nose or ears
  • Numbness in the extremities (fingers and toes)
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Agitation or irritability.

In some cases, especially if the damage is widespread across the brain, individuals with a traumatic brain injury may have permanent damage in the areas responsible for maintaining functional consciousness. This can lead to a person being in a coma, where consciousness is lost entirely, or coma-like states.

These include:

A vegetative state, in which a person may react to limited stimuli but has no awareness of their surroundings.

A minimally conscious state, in which a person may be able to react to stimuli but has a limited sense of situational and self-awareness.

Locked-in syndrome, where a person may be fully aware of their surroundings but unable to move their body.

Injured individuals in these states of consciousness often require substantial monitoring and medical attention.

How Common Are Traumatic Brain Injuries after a Car Accident?

Traumatic brain injuries are incredibly common. According to the Texas Division of the Brain Injury Association of America, over 144 thousand Texans sustain a TBI every year, with over 5,700 left permanently disabled and approximately 381 thousand — or 2% of the population — living with a TBI-related disability.

We don’t know the exact number of traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents in Texas, but we do know that they have long been a leading factor, accounting for 24.5% of all TBI-related hospitalizations across the US in 2017.

It’s important to remember that this data is based only on reported traumatic brain injuries. It’s likely that many more individuals sustain TBIs after car accidents and other incidents without realizing, especially as symptoms aren’t always immediately apparent.

It can take days, weeks, or months before a person involved in a car accident begins to experience the signs of a traumatic brain injury, and a CT scan immediately after the accident won’t always confirm a TBI unless there’s significant swelling or bleeding.

It’s also not uncommon for traumatic brain injuries to be missed or misdiagnosed in older adults because TBI symptoms often overlap with other common medical conditions. This age group is particularly at risk of death after a TBI, especially if they are taking blood-thinning medication, which can increase the risk of bleeding in the brain.

What to Do if You Have a Traumatic Brain Injury after a Car Accident

If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including your pain and suffering and medical bills.

Texas is a fault state, which allows you to hold the party responsible for your accident liable for your injuries.

If you’ve been in a car accident, there are three crucial steps you should follow.

  1. See a Doctor

The first step you should take after any accident is to seek medical attention. If you have a traumatic brain injury, you won’t necessarily know immediately, but you likely have other visible injuries you should document and get treated for. A doctor will also examine your head and advise what you should do if you develop a concussion.

  1. Don’t Tough It Out

It can be tempting to tough it out and assume you’ll be okay after some rest, especially if you’re wary about mounting medical bills. However, this is the worst thing you can do — both for your health and your chances of securing compensation.

A traumatic brain injury after a car accident can get a lot worse if left untreated, so time is of the essence.

If you think you may be entitled to compensation, it’s crucial to show a correlation between your car accident and your traumatic brain injury. Seeking immediate treatment allows you to document your injuries and what happened, preventing the at-fault party’s insurance company from claiming the events are unrelated and making it much easier for you to secure the maximum possible settlement.

  1. Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer

Treatment for a TBI can get costly — very quickly. Treatment for a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury after a car accident can leave you with a permanent disability, unable to work ever again, and facing a lifetime of rehabilitation. It will also likely cause you pain, suffering, and emotional anguish, and affect your confidence and independence. 

No amount of money can ever compensate for such a life-changing event, but it can help you support yourself and your family and ensure you never have to worry about paying for your medical treatment.

Even a minor concussion can leave you unable to work for several weeks while you recover, and these are damages you are entitled to receive from the driver or company responsible for causing your accident. 

Our dedicated traumatic brain accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio will negotiate a fair settlement, take your case to court if we believe you’re entitled to more, delay payment of your medical bills until you receive compensation, and — ultimately — fight to get you what you deserve.

If you or someone you love has a traumatic brain injury after a car accident, contact our personal injury lawyers in San Antonio and McAllen for a free case review and find out how much compensation you could receive.


Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501
210-646-9100

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