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Car Accidents and Child Head Injuries: What Parents Should Know

Car Accidents and Child Head Injuries: What Parents Should Know

Understanding Child Head Injury Risks in Car Accidents

According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), head injuries are the most common injuries sustained by children in motor vehicle crashes. While using car seats and restraints appropriately can reduce the risk of injuries in a car crash, severe traumatic brain injuries still occur. Here’s what you need to know to keep your children protected.

Types of Head and Brain Injuries

When involved in a car crash, the following types of brain injuries are the most common:

Concussion

A concussion happens from a blow to the head. Concussions may cause temporary confusion and problems with memory, speech, balance, and vision. Symptoms of a concussion may not show up until days after a car accident. Symptoms of a concussion may include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling in a “fog” or confused
  • Dizziness

Brain Contusion

Contusions to the brain occur from direct impact to the head. For example, hitting your head against a window or being struck by an object from within the car. Symptoms of a brain contusion may include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to noise and light
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Trouble balancing
  • Nausea
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigued/lethargic
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Diminished sense of taste

Penetration

Penetration injuries to the brain can happen when an object cuts into the skin. For example, shards of glass from car windows after a crash. Symptoms of a penetration injury to the brain may include but are not limited to:

  • Heavy bleeding from the head
  • Bleeding from the ears
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Loss of bowel and bladder function
  • Loss of movement of the limbs
  • Loss of consciousness

A penetration injury may also result in the victim going into a coma.

Diffuse Axonal

A diffuse axonal injury is considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and involves tearing of connecting nerve fibers (axons) in the brain. In a car accident, a diffuse axonal injury can happen upon impact when the brain shifts and rotates inside the skull. Symptoms of a diffuse axonal injury may include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of consciousness

Coup-Contrecoup

Coup-contrecoup can be defined as an injury that occurs when the blow or impact to the head causes damage to the brain at the direct site (coup) and the opposite side (contrecoup). This can cause additional bleeding and bruising to the brain and is categorized as a traumatic brain injury. Some symptoms of a coup-contrecoup injury may include but are not limited to:

  • Mood changes
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Anxiety or depression

While some head injuries can be identified right away, such as cuts and lacerations, others may not show up until hours or days later. Even if you are involved in a “fender bender,” it’s critical that you and every passenger immediately seeks medical attention.

Head Injury Warning Signs in Small Children

Young children may have difficulty communicating how they are feeling, or symptoms they are experiencing, after a car crash — and infants are unable to communicate at all. Here are some common warning signs to look out for:

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in nursing habits
  • Irritability
  • Inability to be consoled
  • Persistent crying
  • Unable to focus or pay attention
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Seizures
  • Mood changes (sadness, depressed moods)
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities

Long-Term Consequences of Car Crash Head Injuries in Small Children

According to the NHTSA study mentioned above, children under one year of age had a higher head injury rate than other age groups in the study. Concussions and unconsciousness were also more prevalent in children under 1. Skull base fractures were the most common among children between 1 and 7 years old.

The study also found that neurological issues after sustaining a head injury may not show up until years later and can result in frontal lobe issues that affect social interactions and interpersonal skills.

Injury Prevention Tips

When you get into your vehicle with your children, the furthest thing on your mind is getting into a car accident. However, following recommended safety guidelines and being prepared can help reduce the risk of head, brain, and other types of injuries after a car accident. Here are some tips:

  • Buckle up - Depending on their age, height, and weight, children should be properly restrained in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt at all times. Refer to the NHTSA for information on proper child restraint guidelines.
  • Install car seats and booster seats correctly - always follow the appropriate installation instructions that are outlined in the owner’s manual. If you are unsure if your car seat or booster seat is installed correctly, ask for help from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
  • Keep Children in the backseat - don’t seat children or put rear-facing car seats in front of an airbag.

Injured in a Car Accident? We Can Help

Being involved in a car crash is devastating and, in many cases, a life-altering experience. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we can help. At Roman & Gaynor, our experienced attorneys know the tactics that insurance companies use to lowball settlements and deny claims. When it comes to holding the negligent parties accountable for causing your accident, we’ll fight tirelessly for you to receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

Contact us today at (727) 877-1212 to learn your rights and discuss your case.

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