Some of the most dangerous accident injuries are the ones that aren’t obvious right away. You could walk away from a car crash feeling “fine” without realizing just how badly you’re hurt. And if you don’t realize how badly you’re hurt, you’re not likely to get the proper medical diagnosis and treatment that you need. Without treatment, your injuries could actually get worse over time.
Injuries that aren’t immediately noticeable are called latent injuries. Traumatic brain injuries like concussions are some of the most common types of latent injuries because their symptoms can be so hard to catch. That’s why it’s so important to get checked out by a medical professional shortly after an accident to make sure that you really are okay.
For example, you may experience whiplash in a car accident and lose consciousness for just a few seconds without even realizing it. If you don’t go to a hospital after the crash, you may go home with unresolved head injuries like brain contusions and intracranial hematomas. You may start to experience headaches or problems concentrating in the months after an accident without understanding why. Over time, your injuries could affect your ability to work or care for yourself. Some traumatic brain injuries could even lead to personality changes or problems communicating.
Latent injuries should not be taken lightly, especially when they might involve your brain or spine. Even mild fender benders could have serious consequences – and even the most “mild” head injuries tend to have severely disruptive symptoms.
So yes, you can have a traumatic brain injury and not even know it. While some TBI symptoms may get better over time, many TBIs have compounding or worsening effects. As a result, you should take immediate steps to find out the full extent of your injuries after an accident.
Traumatic brain injuries are notorious for showing only delayed signs of injury. TBI symptoms can and often do get worse over time. Some TBIs could start affecting you weeks, months, or years after the initial accident or incident that caused your injury.
According to a recent study, 1 in 60 people in the United States lives with a disability related to a traumatic brain injury. Most TBIs are caused by car accidents (including motorcycle accidents and truck accidents), slip and fall incidents, sports injuries, or physical assaults.
Because brains are so complex, every TBI is unique – no two patients may experience the same symptoms. Immediate symptoms of TBI may include loss of consciousness, blurred vision, or bruising or bleeding from the head. These symptoms may resolve quickly while the deeper injury goes undetected. Over time, delayed or late-onset symptoms may include:
Depending on the severity of your TBI, you may need extensive medical treatment or supportive care. If your condition deteriorates, you may struggle to keep a job. It’s important to address your injury before your symptoms get worse so that you can start your recovery.
Unfortunately, if you don’t realize the full extent of your injury, you may continue to live your life in a way that can actually cause your TBI to worsen. For example, you may continue playing sports as a hobby – and while this may not be a problem normally, you actually risk worsening your brain injury with repeated exposure to impacts or additional concussions.
Unfortunately, most traumatic brain injuries require some form of medical testing to confirm and diagnose. So it’s very hard to know if you’ve suffered a TBI without seeing a doctor.
To find out if you have a traumatic brain injury, your doctor may use a CT scan, an MRI scan, neurological exams, or cognitive, speech, or language tests. Depending on the specifics, you may get referred to more specialized doctors for additional diagnosis and treatment.
While this may seem like a lot of fuss – especially if you’re experiencing mild symptoms or no symptoms at all – going through this step will protect your health. The longer you wait after an accident to get diagnosed, the more of an uphill battle you may face. It’s much better to check and find out that nothing is wrong than to overlook your health and pay for it later.
If you’re concerned about a loved one or family member who may have suffered a TBI, encourage them to get the help that they need sooner rather than later. Click here to read about how to support a TBI patient in the aftermath of their injury.
Yes – it’s possible to diagnose a traumatic brain injury years after it happens. And while a delayed diagnosis is better than no diagnosis, the delay usually puts you at a disadvantage.
For example, if you don’t get checked out for a TBI shortly after an accident, you may only find out about your injury years later when you suffer another injury or when your symptoms flare up. In both cases, your health is worse off than if you’d taken the steps to properly recover from your first injury. Not to mention, you’ve been struggling with your symptoms for all that time without getting the support you’ve needed to get better.
Your health is not the only thing that’s affected when you delay your TBI diagnosis. Your legal rights also ch of ange over time – another reason not to delay.
If your traumatic brain injury was caused by someone else’s negligent actions, then you have the right to hold that person responsible for your losses. That includes your medical bills, any lost income from being unable to work, and any out-of-pocket costs related to the injury.
But the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim in California is 2 years from the date of your injury – or the date you should have discovered your injury. In the case of a car accident, that’s the date of the incident. It’s on you to make sure you get the medical treatment you need. If you decide not to get checked out, wait 2 years, then discover your injury later, you won’t be able to file a legal claim because you missed the deadline.
Traumatic brain injuries come with serious consequences. If someone else caused your TBI, the law helps you hold that person responsible. At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we’ve helped countless TBI victims get the compensation they deserve after their injuries. Click here to contact our experienced team of attorneys for a free case consultation