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Can drivers tell if they have a brain injury caused by a crash?

It is a very jarring experience when a car collides with another vehicle. The shock and surprise that people feel after a crash can make it difficult for them to make sense of the situation at first. As people regain a sense of their surroundings, they will often check themselves and the other people in their vehicle for signs of injury before going to check on the people in the other vehicle.

The results of that brief personal examination will influence what someone says when they call for emergency services and also what steps they take after leaving the scene of the crash. It is unfortunately quite common for people with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) to leave the crash scene without realizing that they have sustained serious physical harm.

Why TBIs are hard to identify

There are two reasons why it is hard for a driver or passenger to identify brain injury symptoms after a car crash. The first is that it is quite common for there to be a delay in symptom onset after the initial trauma. It can take several days or even more than a week for the bleeding, swelling or bruising caused by a brain injury to produce symptoms that push someone to see a doctor.

People may have no signs at the time of a crash or only a dull headache as a warning of symptoms to come. It would take an imaging test to detect the damage to the brain before it worsens enough to produce major symptoms.

The second reason is that brain injuries don’t just produce one specific set of symptoms. Some people will experience a ringing in their ears or blurry vision. Others will notice the sudden change in mood and personality. Memory issues, problems with balance and unprecedented challenges with fine motor control can also all be warning signs of a slowly progressing TBI.

Proper medical evaluation helps

The sooner someone sees a physician after a crash for evaluation, the better their chances of getting timely care. They may avoid those worsening symptoms that might otherwise develop. Additionally, there will be medical records showing that their injuries coincide with the timing of the crash. Lengthy delays in diagnosis can raise questions about the actual origin of the injury.

Recognizing personal limitations when responding to a recent motor vehicle collision can help to protect those who have been injured from suffering medical complications and financial missteps. With that said, seeking legal guidance is almost always helpful as well, as every case is unique and injury victims can’t expect to feel comfortable accounting for every variable.