Recent legal cases and settlements concerning the long-term effects of a contact sport on former major league athletes have brought head injuries to light. One, however, doesn’t have to play football or soccer to experience the life-changing influence of a concussion, coma, loss of consciousness, or brain hemorrhage.
Closed Head Injuries
Sometimes with no bruising or scrapes, a closed head injury (CHI) may be difficult for even a neurologist to detect. A swift impact – from a fall, car or motorcycle injury, workplace accident, or whiplash – affects the brain without a skull fracture or displacement.
What results may be brain swelling, which causes intracranial pressure inside the skull. The condition may compress brain tissue, thus exacerbating the injury. Or, the brain may expand into the eye sockets, where it puts pressure on and may reduce the function of eye nerves. In either case, pervasive damage to nerves and blood vessels occurs: stretched or twisted nerve fibers, bleeding from torn arteries, focal lesions, bruising, or a diffuse brain injury.
Encompassing traumatic brain injuries, a head injury is often classified as one of the following: concussion, cerebral contusion, intracranial bleeding, intracranial hematoma, or diffuse axonal injury. Nevertheless, the lack of external evidence and the fact that the condition may take months to surface mean an injured individual may go about his or her daily activities, completely unaware of an injury.
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
- Mood and emotion changes
Open Head Injuries
Unlike a CHI, an open head injury displays obvious signs of trauma, and as a result, medical professionals tend to detect and administer treatment for open head injuries far sooner than CHIs. The condition encompasses penetration of the meninges, skull, or both, exposing the brain in the process.
When an open head injury occurs, bone fragments or cerebrospinal fluid enters the brain matter, leading to tissue damage and high risk of infection. Trauma, on the other hand, occurs two-fold with open head injuries. Direct application of physical force may be followed by secondary, potentially brain-damaging complications like bleeding, a hematoma or blood clot, increased intracranial pressure, hypoxia, or brain swelling.
Filing a Lawsuit
No matter if an open or closed head injury, the condition and its ramifications have long-term, life-changing consequences. An individual’s physical, emotional, and mental health may be permanently affected, while the cost of current and future medical treatments, therapy, caretaking, and diminished employment opportunities and quality of life take a significant financial toll on the injured party and his or her family.
Yet, an incident involving a negligent party – such as a rear-ended car accident, poor working conditions, or an unmaintained property – may result in a head injury of some kind. If this was how a closed or open head injury resulted, a lawyer handling this type of case looks for how the damage occurred, who was at fault, if a doctor properly diagnosed the condition, and if the injured party received proper medical treatment.
If you or a loved one experienced a head injury as the result of a vehicular accident, slip and fall, or lack of workplace safety, have Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers examine your claim.