Few personal injuries are as devastating as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This type of life-altering injury, which is often the product of a San Diego car accident, typically has a permanent debilitating impact. It may rob a collision victim of his or her ability to walk or communicate and other fundamental mental and physical functions that drastically impact one’s quality of life.

Many people underestimate the risk of suffering a TBI — more than 1.5 million people per year suffer some form of brain injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that traumatic brain injuries cause 50,000 fatalities per year with another eighty thousand people experiencing significant long-term disability. These statistics include only TBI victims treated in hospitals.

How car accidents cause severe brain injury

Although many types of accidents can cause TBI, the most common cause is a motor vehicle accident. When a car collides with a vehicle or stationary object, a person's body may be jolted forward, causing a head injury when the accident victim’s head strikes the windshield, dashboard or other hard surface inside the motor vehicle. A foreign object also may be forced through the skull to the brain.

Traumatic brain injuries also may be the result of the body being whipped forward and then backward in a collision. Because the skull and brain move at different speeds because of their differences in mass and weight, the brain may continue moving inside the skull and impact the hard bony structure of the inside portion of the skull. The brain is made of a soft gelatinous material that is susceptible to injury. The force of impact from a serious car accident can cause swelling of the brain, severe contusions or axonal shearing.

Costs of an auto accident-related TBI

Although a family may suffer an enormous emotional toll when a loved one suffers a traumatic brain injury, the financial costs are almost unimaginable. The family of a loved one that suffers a traumatic brain injury may be faced with lifetime treatment costs of $4 million according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. The medical care and rehabilitative costs alone are typically as much as $150,000 for hospital bills, vocational rehabilitation, job retraining and home modifications.

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