When car accidents occur, glass from the windshield and windows can shatter, metal shrapnel from defective airbags can be catapulted, and other objects inside and outside of the car can fly through the air. When any of these things happen in a crash, it is usually done quickly and forcibly—resulting in very serious injuries for drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians.
Frighteningly, the head is a common area of the body that often suffers when objects are shattered or are hurled through the air in crashes. These objects may penetrate the skin and the skull when they are projected through the air. Even when objects don’t break the skin, the skull can be broken from blunt impact when the head makes forceful contact with an object. When the skull is broken and the brain is exposed, this is known as an open head injury.
Understanding How Open Head Injuries Happen in Crashes
Open head injuries in auto accidents are typically the result of a forceful or penetrating blow to the head. Although the skull is designed to withstand a great amount of force, a blow to the head or flying object can penetrate the skull, fracturing it and exposing the brain.
Typically, when an open head injury occurs due to a car accident, one of the following three types of skull fractures is often the result:
- Linear skull fracture. This type of skull fracture is the most common type of open head injury. Although the skull cracks due to trauma, the brain tissue isn’t affected and most of the time there is little treatment required because the break is only on the surface of the skull. However, this type of open head injury can cause the cerebrospinal fluid to leak through the break in the skull and drain from the ears and nose, which can be a major concern for potential brain damage.
- Basilar fracture. This type of skull fracture is very rare, since not too many people sustain a break at the base of the skull. However, this type of open head injury can occur and can cause cerebrospinal fluid leakage and brain damage.
- Depressed skull fracture. This type of skull fracture is often the result of a blow to the head in a crash. The break in the cranial bone is pressed in towards the brain and often skull fragments from the break compress the brain tissue. Sadly, a serious traumatic brain injury and brain damage are often the result with this type of fracture.
When any type of open head injury occurs, it is very likely that brain damage will result. This means that people with open head injuries often experience problems related to the area of the brain that is damaged. Because the brain controls emotions, thoughts, personality, intellect, and bodily functions, damage to the brain can lead to serious impairments in any one of these areas. Sadly, permanent brain damage is also possible. Brain damage can also occur as a result of an infection, which could lead to other complications such as meningitis, coma, seizures, paralysis, and even death.
Treatment for Open Head Injuries
If a person is rushed to the emergency room following a car accident, doctors and medical staff will assess the patient’s head injury and conduct tests such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scan (computed tomography), and an ICP test (intracranial pressure monitor). These tests will allow doctors to determine how serious the open head injury is and what type of skull fracture has occurred.
Following the assessment, a patient may be prescribed strong medications to reduce inflammation or be rushed into surgery to fix the fractured skull and relieve pressure on the brain from swelling. When an open head injury leads to brain surgery, rehabilitation is often necessary to regain cognitive functions and thinking skills. Because surgery and rehabilitation can be very expensive—and rehabilitation may be long-term—the costs of treating an open head injury can add up quickly.
If you have suffered an open head injury as a result of a car accident, please call our law firm. We understand the seriousness of open head injuries and would like to help you obtain the most compensation possible so that you can get the best possible medical care.