Car accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. And while many people are lucky enough to walk away from an accident, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve escaped injury and don’t need medical attention. In fact, medical providers agree that a great many symptoms — including symptoms that indicate serious underlying conditions — don’t manifest themselves until days, and even weeks, after a car crash. Unfortunately, this is especially true in cases of traumatic brain injury.
The brain is the most complex organ in the body. Although it only weighs around three pounds, it’s made up of one hundred billion nerve cells, each connected in ways that ensure that no two brains are alike. This uniqueness is the reason why brain impairment and injury manifests itself differently in each individual. Likewise, the brain’s complexity is the reason why a person can walk away from a car accident, yet still, unknowingly have a serious brain injury that requires immediate medical attention.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle crashes are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the US. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused either by a bump or blow to the head or by a jolting body hit that causes the head to move quickly and forcefully back and forth. A TBI can include any type of brain injury, from a mild concussion with no lasting effects, to an impact injury that causes permanent, life-changing brain damage.
The most common type of traumatic brain injury is a concussion. Because concussions aren’t usually classified as life-threatening, they’re often regarded as a “mild” type of injury; but even a mild concussion can have serious effects, especially if it’s left untreated. Likewise, a concussion can affect multiple regions of the brain, making it even more problematic — and even potentially dangerous.
A concussion can cause a variety of symptoms — some obvious, others subtle and virtually unnoticeable. Likewise, these symptoms might appear immediately or might not manifest themselves until weeks after the accident.
Car accident victims can also suffer from contusions, which are bruises to the head and to the brain. A bump on the head might seem innocent enough; but a contusion on the brain can cause a wide range of problems, from a simple commonplace headache to life-threatening hemorrhaging.
Likewise, brain inflammation can occur up to five days after an accident — and this type of inflammation can lead to dangerous swelling that can injure the rest of the brain. In addition, a hematoma, or blood clot, can form if a blood vessel ruptures.
All of these conditions can cause a myriad of symptoms — but one common-denominator symptom that doctors always look for is slurred speech.
Depending on its cause, slurred speech (the medical term is “dysarthria”) can appear several days, or even a couple of weeks, after an accident. It can begin gradually and get worse, or suddenly appear out of nowhere in an advanced stage. Either way, it’s crucial to get medical help immediately after its onset.
Slurred speech occurs when the parts of the nervous system that control muscles used for speech are damaged. When these nerves are impaired and muscles are weakened, the result is reduced control over speech, as well as a decrease in speech clarity. In addition, a traumatic brain injury can cause nerve damage that results in facial paralysis, as well as the reduced movement of the tongue, lips or soft palate — all of which can result in slurred speech.
When it’s the result of a car accident, slurred speech can indicate a concussion, a contusion or another type of TBI. As a symptom, slurred speech is always taken seriously by medical professionals. If slurred speech occurs — whether it’s immediately after a car accident or several weeks later — the accident victim should see a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room immediately.
If you’ve been in a car accident, is it important to see a personal injury attorney? The answer is yes — it’s not only important, is crucial, and can even be life-saving.
All too often, accident victims either leave the scene of the accident without going to the doctor or get a quick, cursory check-up that doesn’t include CAT scans, X-rays or other necessary tests to reveal specific injuries. As a result, an accident victim can start having entirely new symptoms days — or weeks — after the crash. Since these symptoms don’t always manifest themselves immediately after the accident, essential tests are often omitted, including tests that can reveal a life-threatening TBI.
By the time you’ve gone back to your doctor or hospital for these follow-up tests, you may not be able to prove that these symptoms — and the resulting diagnosed conditions — are directly relatable to your accident. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to get legal protection and representation.
A personal injury attorney can give you the protection you need so that you can make a credible claim and get the financial compensation you need — compensation that can cover everything from medical expenses to lost wages and emotional stress. By seeing a specialized personal injury attorney after your car accident, you can get the professional legal representation you’ll need, in the form of a car accident attorney who knows how to fight for your rights and win.
Even if you’re not sure yet of the extent of your injuries (because sometimes symptoms don’t appear for several weeks), a personal injury attorney can steer you to doctors who can help you get the tests you need to ensure that you’ll get a thorough diagnosis. In many cases, because of an attorney’s help, accident victims can get a correct diagnosis that completely contradicts the quick, cursory exam they originally got in the emergency room after the accident.
Once you have your diagnosis, a car accident attorney can help you file the right insurance claims and, when necessary, represent you in legal hearings and in court as well.
If you need accident-related legal advice or representation, be sure to contact Smiley Law Firm so you can get the guidance you need. While you’re there, be sure to ask for your free copy of our latest special report, “The 10 Myths of Settling Your Personal Injury Case.” You don’t have to accept an insufficient settlement, because you deserve better than that — and Smiley Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve.