• Brad Keating

Brain Stem Injury - Car Accident: What Can You Do?

Updated: Feb 23

A severe car accident can cause many problems to the driver who caused it, the car's passengers, and even other people who were nearby. Depending on the collision type, victims may experience a wide range of traumatic injuries which could potentially jeopardize their normal functions as humans.


Motor vehicle accidents typically involve some sort of head injury, with a traumatic brain injury being one of the most severe cases victims can experience. A brain injury is considered traumatic when brain tissue experiences extreme damage, causing potential physical, cognitive, or even emotional difficulties over time.


Many factors can determine how badly brain stem injuries can affect someone's life. The following article covers the basics of traumatic brain injuries, how they're caused, and what can victims do about them.


What Is the Brain Stem?

What Is the Brain Stem?


Overall, the brain stem is considered one of the most primitive parts of the brain. Thanks to the brain stem, people can perform basic bodily functions, such as breathing, making the heart beat, or regulating blood pressure. Moreover, it helps connect sensory information between the body and the brain.


The brain stem is always at the skull's base. While this body part is considerably small, it's extremely important to keep it in good condition. Overall, the brain stem is made up of three parts:

  • Midbrain

  • Medulla Oblongata

  • Pons

In essence, the midbrain helps with hearing, sleep, body temperature, motor function, and more. On the other hand, the medulla oblongata is supposed to control the person's involuntary functions and reflexes, including breathing or swallowing.


Finally, the pons is the part responsible for connecting the central nervous system/spinal cord. Logically, sustaining a severe head injury could cause a problem to any of these three parts, which could impair some vital body parts and functions.


How Can the Brain Stem Get Damaged In a Car Accident?


As mentioned before, a car accident can likely cause a traumatic brain injury due to the blows or jolts the entire body gets after a collision. When someone gets injured in a car accident, the force of the impact can cause the brain to twist and collide with the skull's interior, which can cause problems ranging from skull fractures, internal bleeding, and even deformities.


In essence, a car accident can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels, brain tissue, and nerves. Moreover, car accidents may cause significant swelling, bleeding, and blood clots, which may cause pressure on the brain.


While a traumatic brain injury is a rather common injury type, it mostly happens in high-speed car collisions. Still, regardless of the car accident type the victims experience, they need to get medical and legal assistance as soon as possible to avoid any future problems.


What Are the Two Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Depending on what happened in the car accident, the victim may experience one of two brain stem injury types. A closed brain injury, for example, happens when there's not a break or fracture in the skull. Here, the brain injury may not be as challenging to treat.


Closed brain injuries may not only be caused by car accidents, these are also common when someone shakes a baby, for example (also called shaken baby syndrome).


On the other hand, a penetrating brain injury happens when the skull experiences a break or a fracture, which is where the most severe consequences happen. These are also known as open head injuries.


What Are Some Outcomes of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A severe traumatic brain injury can cause a wide range of problems. While victims must get proper medical evaluations to know what type of brain injuries they sustained, here's a list of common injuries related to the brain stem:

  • Loss of speech, reflexes, and swallowing

  • Coma

  • Death

  • Loss of involuntary functions

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Physical weakness or loss of balance

  • Emotional distress

There are several ways to diagnose traumatic brain injuries. Most doctors go for diagnostic imaging, such as MRIs and CAT scans. However, other doctors diagnose these injuries by looking at the person's symptoms.


Depending on the injury type, the doctor may request medication, surgery, or therapy. In the most unfortunate cases where death isn't involved, the person may need care for the rest of their lives. Still, most victims can live a long, healthy life with some mild symptoms.


One of the most common problems from experiencing a concussion, a diffuse axonal injury, a widespread axonal injury, or any other secondary brain injury is paying for medical bills. Logically, a traumatic brain injury can add up millions in medical fees since most of them involve life-lasting damage.


What Are Some Mild Brain Injuries?

Fortunately, not all injuries to the human brain have to be extremely severe. Some lucky people may get away with one of the following symptoms for a brief time:

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Drowsiness

  • Dizziness

  • Blurred vision

  • Sensorial sensitivity

If any of these items considered a 'mild injury' escalate over time, the victim must contact a medical expert and a lawyer to get compensation for the damages caused.


Brain Stem Injuries In Children

Logically, children can also get badly affected by brain stem injuries, and some of these symptoms may be harder to notice at first. Generally speaking, here are some of the things a child may experience after having a severe injury to the head:

  • Irritability

  • Constant crying

  • Attention span problems

  • Different sleep habits

  • Seizures

  • Bad moods

  • Drowsiness

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Different eating habits

Whether the brain stem injury was mild, moderate, or severe, these are all problems that must get treated immediately with proper medical care.


Is It Possible for Brain Tissue to Heal After a Car Accident?

According to several medical experts, brain cells don't regenerate after a severe brain stem injury. Still, people do recover from a brain injury since the brain itself adapts to make up for the injured tissue by re-routing information.


In cases of a severe brain injury, only time and proper treatment may tell whether the victim will have a full or partial recovery. The sooner the person seeks medical help, the more likely they're going to assess severe brain stem damage and restore regular brain function.


Handling Legal Matters After a Car Accident

Handling Legal Matters After a Car Accident


When a traumatic brain injury happens, the first thing victims must do is seek medical help immediately since every second may count toward a better recovery process. However, the victim must also assess legal matters as soon as possible.


In essence, whether the car accident was the victim's fault or not, they must seek legal help to fight insurance companies. If the victim wasn't at fault for the car accident, for example, they must seek proper compensation for their severe injuries.


However, filing all the correct paperwork while also dealing with head injuries may be next to impossible, which is why it's a much better option to get a legal expert to do it for them; that way, victims can focus on recovering and reducing brain swelling or other problems.


What Can an Experienced Lawyer Help with?

Experiencing a brain stem injury can be traumatic for both the victim and their family or friends. Thankfully, hiring experienced lawyers can help the person get compensation for the injuries caused while focusing on getting proper recovery.


In essence, a lawyer can help a car accident victim by covering the following expenses:

  • Future medical bills

  • Lost wages

  • Pain and suffering

  • Mental anguish

  • Loss of earning capabilities

  • Disfigurement

  • Loss of quality or enjoyment of life

If the car accident victim experiences brain death, their family members can work with a lawyer to file a wrongful death suit with the guilty party.


How Does a Lawyer Help Car Accident Victims?

There are many things a lawyer can do to get proper compensation from insurance companies, especially when it comes to a primary injury like this. Overall, the entire process comes down to the following steps:

  • Getting all the information possible about the people involved in the accident. This can involve the victim, the guilty party, passengers, and other witnesses. Some of the most important pieces of information lawyers must get to file a case are the cars' model, make, and license plate, phone numbers, addresses, and police reports, if possible.

  • Gathering as much evidence as possible, including photos and videos of the accident, witness testimonies, medical reports, police reports, and more.

  • Talking to the insurance company to see if the claim can be settled outside of court. In most car accidents, the insurance company may not want to take the case to court since that would involve an overwhelming amount of time, effort, and money. Generally speaking, most car accident claims get settled out of court.

  • Keeping the victim and/or their family and friends up to date on the status of the case.

  • Fighting for the victim's rights in each step of the process.

  • Claiming proper compensation for all the damages sustained in the accident.

While the case process may vary slightly depending on the circumstances, the severity of the injury, and other factors, all lawyers work toward the same goal, which is ensuring proper compensation for their clients.


Why Do Insurance Companies Avoid Paying Compensation Right Away?

As mentioned before, most insurance companies may try to settle for as little money as possible. While that may sound heartless, that's how these companies do business. If the accident wasn't the victim's fault, the guilty party's insurance company should pay for all of the damages caused.


Still, most insurance companies will try and do their own investigation to see if there are any areas where they can pay less money. Typically, an insurance company will try and make a settlement offer to the victim's lawyer, which they have the right to accept or decline.


In case the lawyer or victim denies the initial claim, they can make a counter-offer, and this may go on until both parties come to an agreement. If the parties involved never come to an agreement, that's when the case goes to court.


On the other hand, if the victim was the one who caused the accident, it's their insurance company's responsibility to pay for any material damages caused to the other person. In these cases, it's also a good idea to hire a lawyer to know their options.


How Do Lawyers Prove Legal Liability?

Determining who was at fault for the car accident is often one of the most complicated parts of the process since not all car accidents are the same. The smallest detail can make a significant change in the case, so people need to contact an experienced lawyer that can work thoroughly on the issue.


Typically, people who are liable for a car accident often meet one of the following criteria:

  • Poor driving decisions while they're behind the wheel

  • They're employers of the person who caused a collision while driving a commercial vehicle

  • They're automotive manufacturers who sold defective vehicles or car parts which could have helped cause the accident

  • Restaurants that served alcohol to underage people who caused the accident while drunk

  • Contractors or government agents who failed to design safer roadways

Even if those are common cases where the person may be liable for the accident, the lawyer must still evaluate each factor regarding the accident to see which course of action to take.


Working with a Reputable Law Firm | Bottom Line


As mentioned before, hiring a lawyer can be one of the best decisions a car accident victim can make. Still, the victim must keep some vital factors in mind to ensure they get proper care up until they reach partial or full recovery.


First, victims must prioritize medical care among other things since brain injuries require prompt assistance. On the other hand, people need to ensure they get as much money as possible to cover all the expenses that come from these accidents, which is why they must avoid quick-money settlements. They can also seek help getting the average settlement for a non-injury car accident.


Insurance companies may try to make immediate low offers to see if the victims get them. However, those offers typically don't cover the totality of the medical expenses that come from experiencing an injury to the brain, spinal cord, or even from a broken neck after the car accident.


It's often hard to determine the amount of money that a person can claim without the help of a car accident attorney in Nashville TN, which is why those in need of legal assistance may hire the experts at the Keating Law Firm to get the settlement they deserve.