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Can You Get a Concussion in A Car Crash without Hitting Your Head?

Steven R. Andrade Dec. 16, 2021

Concussions always require immediate medical attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described brain injuries as a “silent epidemic” and notes that motor vehicle collisions are among the leading cause of concussions nationwide. You may be wondering: Can you get a brain injury in a car accident even if you did not hit your head? The answer is ‘yes'—the force of a car accident can be enough to cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In this article, our Santa Barbara concussion attorney explains the key things to know about getting a concussion without a direct blow to the head in a car accident.

No Physical Contact Is Required for A Concussion: Axonal Shearing

The majority of concussions happen when someone endures a significant blow to the head. That being said, no direct physical contact is actually required for a person to sustain a concussion. A concussion can occur when a person's head is hit with enough force to cause their brain to essentially “bounce” off of their skull. The force of a serious car accident can be enough to cause the occupants of a vehicle to suffer a concussion even without direct physical contact.

Most often, these types of concussions involve axonal shearing. As defined by Johns Hopkins Medicine, axonal shearing or a diffuse axonal injury (DIA) occurs when the brain's nerve fibers are torn because force has caused the brain to shift and rotate within the skull. DIA injuries can be extremely serious—yet, the damage occurs on such a microscopic level that it can be difficult to see the impact on a CT scan or MRI scan.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of A Traumatic Brain Injury

Do not assume that a concussion was avoided in a car accident simply because there was no direct physical blow to the head. The force of the crash itself can cause a “jolting” of the brain that may result in a serious diffuse axonal injury. Some potential signs of a concussion to watch for after a motor vehicle collision include:

  • Dizziness or nausea;

  • Headaches;

  • Pupil dilation;

  • General confusion;

  • Significant disorientation; and

  • Short-term memory loss.

A suspected concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) always requires professional medical assistance. Through a car accident injury claim, you or your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic/non-economic damages.

Get Help from A Santa Barbara Brain Injury Attorney Today

At Andrade Law Offices, our Santa Barbara personal injury lawyer has the professional skills and experience to handle the full range of concussion/TBI claims. If you or your loved one suffered a brain injury in a car crash, we are here to help. Call us now or connect with us online for a no cost, no obligation case evaluation. We handle concussion and TBI cases in Santa Barbara and throughout the surrounding area, including in Isla Vista, Goleta, Montecito, Summerland, and Ventura.