Personal Injury Law

Head Injury Lawyer: Open vs. Closed Head Injuries

Unfortunately, trauma to the head, neck, and spine is one of the most common personal injuries, especially when an injury victim is involved in a car accident. A head injury can result in long-term disability and a diminished quality of life. In the most catastrophic cases, the injured person is paralyzed or rendered unable to care for himself or herself.

When a head injury involves external mechanical force resulting in brain dysfunction, a head injury is called a “traumatic brain injury” (TBI). A TBI can happen in a variety of accidents, such as during a slip and fall, during sports activity, or in a car crash. Any time the head is struck from the outside, a TBI is possible.

When TBIs are caused by another individual’s negligence, victims have a right to obtain compensation for their medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses.

One of the first steps in understanding a TBI case is learning about head injuries and how they affect the body. There are two main types of TBIs: open and closed.

Open Traumatic Brain Injuries

An open TBI occurs when an object actually penetrates the injury victim’s skull. For this reason, open TBIs are also sometimes referred to as “penetrating traumatic brain injuries.”

Open TBIs can happen any time the skull is pierced, fractured, or broken. In many cases, an open TBI causes very localized brain damage rather than widespread, generalized trauma. Nevertheless, this localized damage is catastrophic for many patients. Depending on where the damage occurs, an open TBI can be an injury that leaves the victim permanently incapacitated.

Closed Traumatic Brain Injuries

As the name indicates, a closed TBI occurs when an outside force impacts the skull but does not penetrate it. Just because an object does not actually penetrate the skull, however, does not mean a closed TBI does not have the potential to be severe and life-changing.

Individuals who suffer closed TBIs can experience brain bruising and swelling – a particularly dangerous condition that can cause permanent brain damage and death. Closed TBIs include concussions, which can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Every person and every accident is different. Most people have heard stories of an individual who walked away from a serious accident nearly unscathed. These stories make the news because they are so incredible. In other cases, a person is terribly injured in what appears to be a relatively minor fender bender.

No two accidents are alike, which is why it’s important to seek medical help right away after any kind of car accident or other personal injury accident. Your doctor can help you determine what type of head injury you have suffered, create a treatment plan for your recovery, and document your injury and treatment for your personal injury case.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of TBI are numerous and vary widely. Signs and symptoms of a mild TBI include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Feeling dazed and dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Vertigo

Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe TBI can include:

  • Prolonged loss of consciousness
  • Severe headaches that don’t go away
  • Constant nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Pupil dilation
  • Numb fingers or toes
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unusual mood swings, irritability
  • Clear fluid draining from the ears or nose

It’s also important to remember that a so-called “mild” TBI can still result in a serious injury that forces an injury victim to miss work and incur significant medical expenses.

Help for Traumatic Brain Injuries

Victims of TBI often feel overwhelmed and confused about their future and their options. When you’re dealing with such a devastating injury, it’s hard to even think about handling a complex personal injury case. Fortunately, an experienced head injury lawyer can help you protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.


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