8 Different Types of Brain Injuries from Car Accidents

Car accidents are one of the most common occurrences where people sustain injuries. Even a fender bender may seem minor and cause an injury that can affect you down the road.

No body parts are safe in a car crash, and your brain is not immune. Whether it is a rear-end collision, a head-on crash, a rollover, a side-impact accident or even a single-vehicle crash, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur. You may not notice any bruising or bleeding, but you could still have sustained a TBI.

Many different types of brain injuries can occur from a car accident. Understanding them is important and if you have been in an accident, make sure to get medical attention, even if you feel ok. You should also consult a personal injury lawyer, so you know your rights and are protected in the event of a TBI.

Here are the most common types of brain injuries from car accidents.

Type #1: Concussion Injuries

A concussion is a mild TBI where your head has made contact with something inside the car during an accident. A blow to the head can be serious and must be diagnosed by a doctor. The brain has hit the inner lining of the skull, causing symptoms including:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Change in mental status
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in ears

Any impact with another vehicle or stationary object can result in a concussion.

Type #2: Contusion Injuries

If you got a blow to the head or a major jolt, it could result in a brain contusion. This brain bruise happens when your brain hits the inside of your head with force, and while it may heal on its own, it could be much worse with bleeding in the brain or even a blood clot. A brain contusion can happen whether you are hit from the front, the back or the side, as well as contact made with something hitting you inside the vehicle.

Type #3: Diffuse Axonal Injuries

When there are more extreme forces during an accident, your brain can move rapidly inside your skull and injure the connection to the brain stem. This is very serious because the connecting fibres may tear, and people often get into a coma.

Type #4: Skull Fracture Injuries

During an accident, the blow to your head can be hard enough to break bones. A skull fracture usually produces bleeding from your nose and ears and swelling where your head was hit. This is typical of high-speed accidents and those where you are thrown through the windshield.

Type #5: Coup-Contrecoup Injuries

One brain injury is enough, but you can sustain two from one accident. A coup-contrecoup occurs when your head makes contact with something during the accident and causes your brain to impact the opposite side of the head.

You sustain injuries from the blow at the impact site, and the force it causes shifts the brain to hit inside the head on the other side.

Type #6: Brain Penetration Injuries

During some serious accidents, an object may pierce the skull and enter the brain. This is a skull fracture and brain injury together. An open head injury like this can be deadly, and those surviving are often left with debilitating and life-altering effects.

During an accident, projectiles can fly around the car and break through the skull, and these injuries require surgery to remove the object and perform wound debridement to aid in healing.

Type #7: Acquired Brain Injuries

This injury involves a secondary occurrence that negatively impacts your brain due to the initial brain injury. After an impact on the head, other problems can develop in your body, like lack of blood flow or oxygen, and this restriction causes reduced brain function.

This leads to starving brain cells and causing permanent damage as dead cells in the brain cannot regenerate. The impact of an acquired brain injury can be for the rest of your life.

Type #8: Second Impact Syndrome Injuries


For someone who has sustained a TBI, the last thing you want is history to repeat itself. If you are recovering from an accident where you had a brain injury and then got into another accident with a TBI, it can have devastating results. Your brain needs time to heal, and any major interruption and the worsening condition are catastrophic.

While getting shook up after an accident is normal, the following conditions may be present or develop days after the TBI:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Loss of sensory function
  • Memory loss
  • Concentration problems
  • Increase impulsiveness
  • A comatose state

During your recovery, you will have frequent doctor visits, therapies, medication, MRIs and other scans, and time away from work. While you may recover from these conditions with a TBI, any of them may be permanent, impacting your life, including:

  • Long-term disability
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Inability to work
  • Inability to care for yourself