Low-Speed Car Accidents Can Still Cause Serious Head Injuries

Most people realize that a high-speed car crash - particularly a head-on collision - can result in serious or even fatal brain injuries. Less well-known is the fact that even low-speed, seemingly minor car accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries.

How Are Brain Injuries Caused?

In every car accident, there are several ways in which head injuries can occur. A driver or passenger's head can strike the steering wheel, window, dashboard or door panel, resulting in trauma to both the skull and the brain. A less obvious form of brain injury is caused not by a direct impact to the head but when the body's forward motion is suddenly stopped; the brain, being so tightly encased inside the rigid skull, doesn't have the same stopping distance as the body.

Why Are Brain Injuries So Serious?

Once the body stops moving, the brain's momentum can force it to slam forward and back inside the skull in what medical professionals call a "coup contrecoup" injury, which involves bruising on two sides of the brain. While a bruise on another part of the body is probably not a big deal, bruising on the brain can easily be fatal.

Bruises are formed when tiny blood vessels break and release blood. The bluish color of bruises are the result of that blood pooling under the skin, where it dissipates by being slowly reabsorbed by the tissue. When blood vessels break in the brain, however, there is nowhere for the blood to go - the brain is packed closely inside the skull to keep it protected, so any excess blood begins to put pressure on the delicate tissues, which could deprive them of vital oxygen and compromise their functionality.

What Should You Do?

If you were in a car accident - even if it was at a relatively low speed and you do not think you have been seriously injured - seek medical attention just to be sure. A medical expert can evaluate you to determine if have suffered head trauma. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.