You're driving down the street at a leisurely pace. As you approach the stop sign ahead of you, you begin to slow down. Unfortunately, the distracted driver behind you doesn't notice the stop sign--and rear-ends you.
You might be annoyed by the ding in your bumper or the scraped paint, but at least it was nothing serious. However, even in low-speed collisions where you don't notice any injuries, it's always worthwhile to get a medical evaluation--just to be sure. Here's why:
Brain injuries are frequently overlooked in accidents--especially in minor accidents. However, anytime you bump your head, you risk suffering trauma to your brain. Children and older adults are particularly susceptible to such injuries.
14.3 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are the result of motor vehicle accidents--affecting around 286,000 people per year. And this number could be much higher--since such injuries often go undiagnosed at the time of the accident.
One reason for this is because symptoms of brain injury--particularly mild brain injury--may not be noticeable until hours or even days after an accident.
For cases of mild brain trauma, look for the following symptoms:
- Sensory distortion--such as blurred vision or problems speaking, hearing, tasting or smelling properly
- Concentration, mood or memory problems
- Difficulty balancing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unusually high fatigue or extended sleep
- Difficulty sleeping
Importance of diagnosis
If you're involved in any sort of accident--however minor--that involves a bump to the head, it's important to get a medical assessment. Left untreated, minor brain trauma can lead to long-term cognitive issues. And if the accident wasn't your fault, you have the right to seek compensation for your medical expenses and any other costs that may have resulted from the crash.