Many people assume that if they can physically walk away from a collision, they're unhurt and can proceed with their daily life. While it may be true that you don't have obvious injuries, like broken bones or a spinal injury, you could still be seriously hurt without realizing it at first. If there is any reason to suspect a potential injury, you should always err on the side of caution and seek a medical evaluation.
One of the most serious and debilitating injuries commonly associated with motor vehicle collisions is also one of the slowest to present symptoms. Brain injuries can happen in a number of ways in a crash, such as hitting your head on a window, seat or steering wheel or experiencing severe shaking, such as when your vehicle rolls. You should carefully monitor yourself and any children from the vehicle for signs of brain injuries for several days after a crash.
You may not realize at the scene that you suffered a brain injury
There are two primary reasons why people may not immediately realize that they have sustained a serious injury as part of a motor vehicle crash or collision. The first is the sudden rush of adrenaline that accompanies the crash. Your brain and body realize that you have experienced a dangerous situation, which leads your brain to release adrenaline. This energizing hormone can help you during fight or flight moments. It can also mask the sensation of pain, causing you to overlook symptoms.
The second reason you may not realize that you have a brain injury is because brain injuries often involved delayed onset of symptoms. Unlike a broken bone, which presents itself immediately, brain injuries often involve bleeding, bruising or swelling of the brain. It could be hours, days or even weeks before you start noticing the worst symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The symptoms of a brain injury may seem minor at first
The truth is that the kind of symptoms someone develops and the severity of the symptoms will depend on what part of the brain sustained injuries and how severe that injury is. Milder injuries could produce symptoms like nausea, headaches, fatigue, issues with speech, problems falling asleep or waking up, dizziness or even sensitivity to light.
More severe TBIs could cause loss of consciousness, ongoing or worsening headaches, drainage of clear fluid from the nose or ears, dilation of the pupils, seizures, loss of coordination, weakness or numbness in the extremities, slurred speech and unusual behavior.
Anyone who loses consciousness in a crash requires medical evaluation, as even passing out for a second could be a sign of a potentially serious TBI. Erring on the side of caution protects you and your family and helps you connect with the care and compensation you need for crash-related injuries.