Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident

long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries

Every year, thousands of motorcyclists are injured or killed in traffic collisions. Every year since 2011, there have been about 1,000 motorcycle accident injuries per 100,000 registered motorcycles in the US. Of those 1,000 yearly accidents, between 54 and 68 have involved fatalities.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are one of the most common types of injuries sustained by motorcyclists and their passengers, and the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries can be devastating.

Even when a rider wears a helmet, the rider can suffer a TBI or other brain injury. In many cases, the individual’s head is violently slammed into the ground or another object causing severe trauma. 

Even without a direct impact, the brain can slam around inside the skull causing significant brain damage.

What is a TBI?

A TBI occurs when an individual suffers a violent blow to the head. If the head is pierced by an object like flying debris or a shattered piece of the skull, that is called an open TBI. The head doesn’t have to be pierced for a person to suffer a TBI; without an open wound, this kind of injury is called a closed TBI.

A concussion is a form of TBI in which the blow or jolt to the head causes the brain to move back and forth within the skull, leading to bruising and swelling. 

Early Symptoms of TBI

TBIs can range from mild to severe. 

A mild TBI affects you temporarily and can result in the following symptoms:

  • Headache or migraine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Speech problems
  • Dizziness and balance loss
  • Sensory issues (such as sensitivity to light and sound)
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Changes in taste and smell

You may or may not lose consciousness after a mild TBI. If you do lose consciousness, it lasts between a few seconds and a few minutes. If you don’t lose consciousness, you may be in a daze for some time. 

Mild TBIs can cause memory issues, concentration problems, mood swings, sleeping difficulties, extreme sleepiness, and mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety. 

A more severe TBI causes bruises, bleeding, and physical damage to the brain. The side effects of a severe TBI include most of the symptoms related to mild TBI in addition to the following: 

  • Loss of consciousness that lasts between several minutes to several hours
  • Severe headache that continues to get worse over time
  • Continuous vomiting and nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilated pupils (one or both)
  • Clear drainage from the ears or nose
  • Weakness in the fingers and toes
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Significant levels of confusion and disorientation
  • Becoming agitated or combative
  • Unusual behavior 
  • Coma 

Complications from a Traumatic Brain Injury

Beyond the initial symptoms of a TBI, severe brain injuries increase the risk of long-term complications. These may occur within hours or weeks of the accident, but some complications may develop months or even years later. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, potential long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries include:

  • Altered Consciousness: Comas, vegetative state, minimal consciousness, or brain death
  • Physical Problems: Seizures, infections, headaches, fluid on the brain, blood vessel damage, and vertigo
  • Intellectual Problems: Cognitive issues and executive functioning problems
  • Communication Problems: Cognitive and social issues
  • Behavior and Emotional Changes: Anxiety, difficulty with self-control, depression, outbursts, and mood swings
  • Sensory Problems: Long-term problems with vision, hearing, taste, and touch
  • Degenerative Brian Disease: Increased risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Dementia Pugilistica

Depending on the type of complication and the severity of the complication, the impact on the motorcyclist’s life can be catastrophic.

How to Avoid a TBI

The best way to avoid a TBI is to wear your helmet every time you are on your bike. 

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), motorcycle helmets are 67% effective at reducing brain injuries in an accident. You may still receive a TBI from an accident while wearing a helmet, but your chances are far better of receiving only a mild injury. 

The NHTSA also states: “An unhelmeted motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15 percent more likely to suffer a nonfatal injury than a helmeted motorcyclist when involved in a crash.” 

Another reason to wear your helmet has to do with your potential lawsuit. If you file a lawsuit after an accident in which you were not wearing a helmet, the defendant’s lawyer may argue that you were at least partially at fault for your injuries. 

Living with the Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries

In addition to the potential complications from a TBI, the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries can also be devastating. 

The cost of long-term medical care and personal care can be overwhelming as the family tries to find ways to pay the expenses caused by the injury. In severe cases, matters become worse because the victim cannot return to work. Therefore, the cost of care combined with the lost wages further decreases the quality of life of the accident victim and the family.

Living with the long-term effects of a motorcycle accident TBI can be debilitating.

If you have suffered a TBI from a motorcycle accident, you should seek legal counsel to find out what kinds of compensation you may deserve from the at-fault party. This compensation can help to alleviate the costs of long-term medical care and lost wages. 

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

There are several things you need to do after a motorcycle accident, from seeking medical attention to documenting your expenses and filing a lawsuit. 

Here’s an overview of the process for confirming that you are eligible to file an injury claim with a personal injury attorney. 

1. Seek medical attention right away

It is imperative that a motorcyclist or passenger receives medical treatment immediately following a motorcycle accident. 

Without medical care, an untreated or undiagnosed TBI could cause significant impairment and permanent damage. Therefore, regardless of whether or not you think you may have suffered a head injury, you should seek immediate medical care after a motorcycle crash. 

2. Document everything

It is also incredibly important to keep records of everything. You will want to keep track of the following: 

  • Police reports of the accident
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident
  • Any surveillance footage you can gather that was captured by bystanders, nearby businesses or homes, and dashcams
  • Notes from every injury-related appointment, including emergency treatment, chiropractic care, physical or occupational therapy services, mental health care, etc.
  • Any missed wages
  • Transportation costs to and from medical appointments

3. Contact your insurance company

Your insurance company should be contacted in the immediate aftermath of the accident. The last thing you want is for anyone to claim that you waited too long to contact your insurance agent. 

The insurance adjuster will investigate your accident. While you should absolutely cooperate with your insurance company and provide the information they need to complete their investigation, you do not need to go above and beyond to give them extensive details about the accident. 

4. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney to know all of your options.

One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is a driver’s failure to notice a motorcyclist’s presence. 

Motorcycle accidents are also caused by poorly maintained roads, debris on the road, poor weather, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, motorcycle lane splitting, and reckless driving. 

Often, the motorcycle rider is not at fault for the accident–or they are only partially responsible. The best way to know for sure who should be held accountable for an accident is to speak with a motorcycle accident attorney right away. 

Filing a motorcycle accident claim to hold the negligent party responsible for damages can help both the victim and their family. With settlement funds, the victim can focus on learning how to cope with the permanent impairments. 

An injury claim settlement can pay the living expenses for the family so that they can help care for their loved one. It can be very difficult to learn to live with a permanent disability; however, with support and medical assistance, victims can thrive and enjoy life after a TBI caused by a motorcycle accident.

Poynter & Bucheri–The Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Indianapolis 

At Poynter & Bucheri, our goal is to help you recover compensation for your injuries and damages. We have worked with numerous accident victims in the greater Indianapolis area and are prepared to support you as you navigate the complicated process of recovering from your motorcycle accident injuries. 

You can request a free consultation with one of our Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyers by calling 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000. Learn about your legal options for filing a motorcycle accident claim from a trusted, experienced attorney who understands the complexities of a motorcycle accident case.