Types of Brain Injuries from Car Accidents

Car accidents are among the leading causes of brain injuries, ranging from minor to severe, according to the CDC. Sadly, the effects of brain injuries from car accidents can impact an individual’s daily life, potentially leading to serious physical, emotional, and cognitive difficulties. In many cases, the road to recovery is long and challenging – one that may never end.

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a car accident and may have experienced a brain injury, establishing a basic understanding of this complex topic is key. By learning more about the types of brain injuries from car accidents, you can be better prepared to take the right steps medically, personally, and legally.

6 Types of Brain Injuries from Car Accidents

Several different types of brain injuries can occur from car accidents (and various forms of brain injuries in general). Each type of brain injury manifests in its own unique way, causing specific symptoms. Additionally, the treatment and recovery for each will typically be very different.

Let’s take a closer look at the six most common brain injuries caused by car accidents.


A concussion, often referred to as a “minor traumatic brain injury,” is caused by:

  • A bump, jolt or blow to the head
  • A blow to the body that results in the head/brain rapidly moving back and forth

As you can imagine, a car accident is exactly the type of scenario in which these bumps, jolts, and rough movements can occur. The sudden movement of the head and brain can then cause:

  • Chemical changes in the brain
  • The brain to move around, bounce, or even twist inside the skull
  • Brain cells to become stretched or damaged

These shifts in the brain are then tied to the symptoms of a concussion, which can affect how a person feels, thinks, sleeps, and acts.

Although concussions are often described as a “mild” brain injury, the effects can still be serious. Generally, concussions are not life-threatening; however, they require proper medical care and attention.

Brain Contusion

A “contusion” is the medical term for a bruise, so a brain contusion is a bruise on your brain. This bruising can be caused by:

  • A blow to the head
  • A sudden jolt that results in your brain colliding with the inside of your skull

A car accident involving a rear, side, or frontal collision can create a violent movement that produces brain contusions. If your head came into contact with anything inside the car, or if you experienced a significant jolt in the impact, it is a good idea to be checked out.

Sometimes, brain contusions can effectively heal on their own. However, an untreated brain contusion can be a catalyst for life-threatening conditions, such as bleeding on the brain or blood clots.

Skull Fracture

A skull fracture can be caused by any type of significant impact to your head. This type of injury often occurs alongside other injuries (like concussions or contusions). Fractures vary in severity and can sometimes be difficult to detect. There are also many different types of skull fractures, largely depending on the point of impact, the force of the blow, and other factors.

In many cases, the symptoms of a skull fracture mimic those of a concussion: headache, vomiting, and confusion. Other times, there may be visible signs, such as bruising, swelling, or bleeding.

Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury, or secondary brain injury, occurs without any impact on your head. They are often directly related to another physical injury or condition. For example, if you have a severe injury that prevents enough oxygen from reaching your brain, the resulting brain damage would be categorized as an acquired brain injury.

Other issues related to acquired injuries include stroke and infection, both of which can occur following a serious accident.


In terms of traumatic brain injuries, coup and contrecoup injuries are named in relation to where the injury occurs:

  • A coup injury occurs directly at the site of impact
  • A contrecoup injury occurs on the side of the brain that is opposite the point of impact

In a coup-contrecoup injury, the brain has been injured in both areas. Essentially, the brain has been injured where it hit something (such as the dashboard), but also where the other side made contact with the inside of the skull.

Brain Penetration

Brain penetration is often a deadly injury, occurring when an object penetrates the skull and enters the brain. For those that are able to survive this type of head injury, permanent brain damage and disability is almost always the outcome.

Due to the high speeds and forces involved in a car accident, even a seemingly non-threatening object can turn deadly. Metal car parts, interior accessories, and other items can cause fatal injuries in the blink of an eye.

Brain Injury Signs & Symptoms to Look for After an Accident

Despite the serious implications of head injuries from car accidents, it is not unusual for them to go untreated. Especially in a relatively minor car accident, those involved may think they are physically fine. In addition, the symptoms of a brain injury might be immediately observable, or they may not appear until days or weeks after an auto accident.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, be aware of symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to sound or light
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Concentration or memory loss problems

The more serious signs of a brain injury can also include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Numbness or weakness in fingers/toes
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Slurred speech

Why Seek Compensation for a Brain Injury?

Brain injuries are a serious situation that can often have lasting effects for physical and emotional health. In the initial trauma after a car accident, you may not realize that you could be potentially dealing with the implications for weeks, months, or even years to come.

If you or a loved one experienced a brain injury in an auto accident due to another individual’s negligence, you have a right to receive compensation. This compensation is intended to relieve the complex burden placed on a victim, including:

  • Present and future medical costs
  • A need for physical, cognitive, occupation, or psychological therapy
  • Inability to work
  • Long-term disability
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Inability to provide for family/children
  • Pain and suffering

Receiving compensation will not eliminate the struggles involved in recovering from a brain injury, but it can help provide the means to begin to move forward.

Why Do You Need a Brain Injury Attorney?

Brain injury cases can be highly complicated, and it is not unheard of for the at-fault party to attempt to significantly minimize the damages that are deserved. However, a skilled brain injury attorney can help you make informed decisions about your case and advocate for your rights. At Springer & Steinberg, we understand the complexities of brain injury law and are prepared to seek rightful compensation on your behalf.

Free Consultation for Colorado Brain Injury Cases

If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury due to a car accident or another traumatic event, Springer & Steinberg is here to fight for you. Contact our team today to learn more about our Denver brain injury attorneys.





Image Credit: Tewan Banditrakkanka / Shutterstock


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