You're crossing the street when a distracted driver slams into you in the crosswalk. Your head hits the hood of the car and then the pavement. You wake up in the hospital.
Or, maybe you're the designated driver for a group of friends in Vegas. You drive safely, but another driver gets drunk at the casinos and still tries to drive back to their Airbnb. They cross the center line and hit your car head-on. The airbag does go off, but your head still hits the side window as your car spins.
These are just two examples, but they help show you how car accidents are dangerous and largely out of your control. They happen quickly, and you can never know for certain that you'll avoid them. Even when you're acting safely -- not drinking and driving, for instance, or only crossing the road at a crosswalk -- you can still get hit.
A traumatic brain injury
That accident can lead to a traumatic brain injury, or a TBI. This may be an open injury where something actually breaks or penetrates the skull. It may be a closed injury, where the forces of the accident damage your brain without breaking bone.
Either way, you must take the injury seriously. Brain injuries can have a drastic impact on your life for years to come. Here are just a few of the major signs you need to look for:
- Losing consciousness. Whether you lose a few seconds or a few minutes, any impact that is hard enough to knock you unconscious could be enough to leave you with a serious brain injury.
- Feeling fatigued and overly tired. You feel drowsy all of the time. Even if you don't do much during the day, you feel exhausted. It's to the point that it interferes with your social life and work schedule.
- Feeling disoriented and confused. Maybe you can't remember the accident. Maybe you don't know where you are or how you got there. Some people with serious injuries lose entire days.
- Your sleep pattern never goes back to normal. You may feel exhausted and fall asleep in the middle of the day, only to struggle to fall asleep at night. You could find yourself restless, waking up all night long.
- You feel like you have a stomach bug. You keep vomiting or you feel nauseated all the time. You get headaches and feel sick. You may be dizzy and you find it hard to keep your balance. These physical symptoms show that something is wrong with your brain, not your body.
- You notice numerous issues with your eyes. Maybe you're more sensitive to light than you used to be. Maybe you have blurred vision. Perhaps your pupils are dilated to different degrees.
- Other senses have similar issues. For instance, you have a constant ringing in your ears and you can't stand noises that others do not think are excessive.
These are certainly not all of the potential signs, but they give you a great place to start. Make sure you know what legal options you have to seek compensation after a brain injury.