What Are Common Head Injuries After a Car Accident?

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A woman holds her head after a car accident head injury.
When involved in a car accident, it is not uncommon for victims to sustain head injuries, also commonly referred to as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were approximately 223,135 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019 and 64,362 TBI-related deaths in 2020. TBIs can range in severity from being relatively mild to quite severe, and even potentially fatal. TBIs may be challenging to identify without medical assistance. This is why it is imperative that you receive medical help as soon as you can following a car accident, even if you feel fine. Some car accident injury symptoms can take time to manifest, especially when masked by adrenaline from the accident. Let’s take a look at some of the most common head and neck injuries sustained in car collisions.

Symptoms of Common Head Injury

When the brain suffers an injury from external forces, such as from striking the dashboard of a car, it is said to have suffered a traumatic brain injury. TBIs can range from mild and almost unnoticeable to coma-inducing or fatal. Although TBIs affect people of all ages, children and young adults are more likely to sustain them. Some symptoms of head injuries include:

  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Memory troubles
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Headaches
  • Loss of consciousness

TBI Causes in Auto Accidents

There are numerous reasons someone could sustain a brain injury in a car collision, whether due to a fault of their own or the negligence of another. A few potential causes of these injuries include:

  •   Impairment by drugs or alcohol
  •   Poor driving practices
  •   Speeding
  •   Driving while distracted
  •   Disregard for the right-of-way
  •   Not using seat belts

Common Car Accident Head Injuries

Any head injury encountered during an automobile collision is often collectively referred to as a traumatic brain injury. However, not all TBIs are created equal. Below is a list of the typical brain injuries people may sustain in auto accidents.


A bruise is referred to medically as a contusion. This kind of head injury can occur when the driver or a passenger is hit by something such as the steering wheel or a window. Contusions may also be referred to as “coups” or “contrecoups.” Injuries caused by coup-contrecoup are frequently sustained in serious car accidents, such as a rollover.


A concussion, which is a commonly-sustained mild traumatic brain injury, occurs when the brain is jolted rapidly inside the head causing the brain to bump up against the inside of the skull. Whiplash or a strike to the head can result in a concussion.  Common symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Vision problems
  • Balance problems
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea

Other Head and Neck Injuries from Automobile Collisions

Contusions and concussions are the most frequently sustained TBIs resulting from a car accident. However, more severe forms of TBI can occur, such as those involving a hematoma. Additionally, traumatic brain injuries are not the only type of head injury that may be sustained in a car accident. Other head and neck injuries are possible. However, these injuries are typically not as severe.


Whiplash is one of the most frequently sustained injuries victim’s incur following a car collision. Whiplash occurs when the body is restrained by a seatbelt but the neck and head are jolted forward upon impact. Although you’ll be injured, whiplash rarely results in long-term damage. However, some individuals will continue to experience long-term adverse symptoms from their whiplash injuries.

Soft-Tissue Injury

Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are a few examples of the various body parts that can sustain soft tissue damage from a car accident. Depending on the car accident, you might sustain muscle tears, sprains, and strains, leading to bruising and swelling. To rule out fractures or other more severe injuries of the head or neck, an x-ray will be required.

Broken Bones and Fractures

Car accidents frequently lead to broken bones and fractures. However, when it comes to the skull and neck, fractures require immediate medical attention.


Cuts and scrapes are medically referred to as laceration injuries. These injuries frequently occur in car collisions due to broken glass or flying debris. While most lacerations will heal on their own, deeper lacerations will require stitches.

Which Symptoms Indicate a Serious Head Injury?

Head injuries can be caused by many things, such as car accidents, sports-related injuries, falls, or violent attacks. No matter the cause, head injuries should never be taken lightly. Symptoms indicating a severe head injury has occurred include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Coma

How Soon Might Symptoms Appear After a Head Injury?

Head injury symptoms can show up right away or take weeks or months to show up. Head injuries are often more severe if internal bleeding occurs in the skull. Both physical and emotional symptoms can result from brain injuries sustained in automobile accidents. Different symptoms may appear depending on the injury’s severity and its source. No matter how severe your accident was, you need to receive medical help right away.

How Long Does Recovery From Head Injury Take?

Everyone experiences recovery from a head injury differently. The injury’s degree, origin, and nature determine how quickly you will heal. Car accident victims who have experienced head trauma may require only a few days to several months to heal, while severe head injuries may be fatal or lead to permanent impairment.

Why a Brain Injury Attorney Might Be Necessary

If you have been injured in a car accident and have sustained a head injury due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. You can assess your eligibility for financial compensation and what damages you may be eligible to receive with the aid of a brain injury lawyer.

Tatum & Atkinson Head Injury Lawyers Can Help

Have you or a loved one sustained a head injury after a car accident in North Carolina? Get in touch with the brain injury attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters’ immediately to receive a free case evaluation. Call us today at (800) 529-0804 or contact us online.