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Primary & Secondary Brain Damage After Motorcycle Accidents

Primary & Secondary Brain Damage After Motorcycle Accidents

Even motorcycle riders who are doing everything right can be involved in accidents and suffer severe injuries. The size difference between motorcycles and passenger vehicles, not to mention a motorcycle’s relative lack of protective features, means riders are much more at risk of injury. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that accidents almost always have bad outcomes for motorcyclists: 80% either suffer an injury or pass away as a result of the damage they sustained.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you likely have the right to pursue compensation. Medical costs add up quickly, especially when the patient is facing a brain injury. Don’t leave your chance for financial assistance on the table if you find yourself in this situation.

Motorcycle Accidents Result in Severe Injuries

Helmets do a lot to keep your head safe in a crash, but a high-speed accident or helmet malfunction can lead to head injuries. An NHTSA analysis of accident data that included both helmeted and non-helmeted riders found over 15% of victims sustained a head injury and 17% sustained a facial injury.

Unfortunately, when motorcycle accident victims suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), they are likely to need considerable treatment. Among helmet wearers and non-wearers alike, injuries trended toward the serious:

  • 34% of the TBIs sustained were severe,
  • 43% were moderate,
  • 2% were minor, and
  • 22% were considered potential injuries.

It’s important to note that even mild brain injuries can have lasting effects. Concussion patients, for example, may experience headaches, dizziness, difficulty seeing and/or hearing, personality changes, and mood disorders that interfere with their day-to-day life.

Most treatment plans for moderate and severe brain injuries are centered around helping the patient regain the ability to lead an independent life. This often requires ongoing rehabilitation, a daily medication regimen, and the use of assistive devices. Even at 2 years of treatment after a moderate or severe brain injury,

  • 30% of patients need some type of daily assistance,
  • 25% of patients develop major depressive disorder, and
  • 30% of patients are able to return to the workforce, though it may not be in the same job.

Two Types of Brain Injury in Motorcycle Accident Victims

It makes sense that the impact of a motorcyclist’s head against the road or another fixed object could cause major damage, but the danger does not end there. After a TBI, a patient may experience a secondary brain injury that exacerbates their condition.

Primary Brain Injury

In a motorcycle accident, the primary brain injury is caused by the initial impact of the brain against the inside of the skull. It usually happens quickly and can consist of:

  • Skull fracture
  • Localized bruising
  • Internal hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • Diffuse axonal injury (stretching and tearing of neurons and axons)

The Journal of Forensic Biomechanics identifies both hemorrhage and diffuse axonal injury as factors in many catastrophic and fatal motorcycle accidents. Damage from these injuries are typically irreversible; once an axon or neuron dies, the body has no mechanism to replace it. Bruising and stretching may not kill a cell, meaning it can recover; this may account for some of the function patients are able to regain after a TBI.

Secondary Brain Injury

When the brain’s oxygen flow is cut for any reason, a patient may experience secondary brain injury. No additional trauma is needed to cause these injuries, and they may not even be apparent. Secondary injuries are typically caused by a patient’s immune response and may incur gradual damage for up to 5 days after an accident.

Types of secondary brain injury include:

  • Edema (swelling of the brain)
  • Hematoma (blood pooling inside the brain)
  • Shock

Shock can be dangerous because it may decrease the blood flow to the brain, thus depriving it of oxygen. All of our cells need oxygen to survive, so even a relatively short period without it can cause brain cell death. Edema and hematoma both cut off oxygen flow in a different way: The brain needs more space when it swells or shares room with an internal bleed, but it’s constricted by the skull. The compression this causes can stop oxygenated blood from making it into the brain.

With proper care, these harms can be diminished, but many accident victims don’t feel they can afford an ambulance ride or another trip to the doctor. This is one of the reasons filing for compensation is so important after an accident: Having access to appropriate treatment can be the difference between recovery and disability or death.

We Can Help with Complex TBI Cases

When seeking a settlement for a TBI case, you need an experienced attorney team on your side. For us, each client is another chance for us to make a lasting difference. Our boutique firm has prevailed in many cases that require technical knowledge and a detail-oriented approach. We’ve helped our clients recover multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements after catastrophic injuries have changed their lives.

If you need help after a motorcycle accident, call us now at (855) 981-6116 for a free evaluation. We can help with complex medical claims like traumatic brain injuries.

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