When a person is involved in a motorcycle, car, or truck accident, they may hit their head, causing a diffuse axonal injury (DAI). After being diagnosed with this severe brain injury, the individual’s life will never be the same. They will need to learn how to carry out their daily obligations and duties in a different way than prior to the accident, as well as adapt to new obstacles and challenges that they may face.
What is the difference between a DAI and a traumatic brain injury?
DAIs are a subcategory of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). A TBI occurs in two different ways. Your skull is protected by the subarachnoid space, a cushioning layer between the brain and inner skull. TBI can result from severe impact to the head, where the subarachnoid space fails to absorb the shock in closed injuries, or when foreign objects penetrate the skull and brain in open injuries.
A DAI is distinctive to closed head injuries and involves the shearing of the brain’s long connecting axons due to shifts and rotations within the skull. Diffuse axonal injury typically leads to coma and widespread brain damage, but these microscopic changes may not be visible on CT or MRI scans.
What are axons and how are they affected by a car accident?
Axons are long, slender, and thread-like extensions of neurons. These structures transmit electrical impulses and signals from one neuron to another, allowing for communication within the nervous system. They form the connections between neurons, allowing for the transmission of information and coordination of various functions in the brain and throughout the body.
When a DAI occurs, external forces cause the brain to shift and twist inside the skull, resulting in the following effects on axons:
- Shearing: DAI leads to the shearing, or tearing, of axons. The different parts of the brain move at varying speeds during these forces, causing axons to stretch and tear as they connect various regions. This tearing disrupts the normal flow of electrical signals along the axons.
- Disruption of Communication: Axons are the “wires” of the nervous system, responsible for transmitting signals between neurons. When axons are damaged or torn, the communication between neurons is interrupted, which can lead to impaired cognitive, motor, and sensory functions.
Severe DAIs can result in coma, significant neurological impairment, or death. However, not all diffuse axonal injuries are fatal, and the prognosis can vary from case to case. These facts underscore the importance of seeking medical attention and appropriate treatment promptly after any Tulsa vehicle accident.
How do DAIs commonly occur?
But that doesn’t mean you can’t sustain this type of brain trauma in other ways. Anything that “shakes” the brain, or causes it to move with enough force that it literally tears itself apart, can lead to diffuse axonal injury, including:
- Contact sports, including football
- Roller coasters
- Physical assaults
- Falls from heights (including intended ones, such as from skydiving)
- Being hit with a falling object
- Hitting your head on a stationary object
Assessing the viability of a Tulsa TBI lawsuit
If you or a loved one sustained a diffuse axonal injury (or any type of traumatic brain injury) due to the negligence of others, you may be considering legal action. In order to pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you need to establish:
- Duty of care: First, you determine whether the at-fault party owed you a duty of care. For example, drivers are supposed to obey traffic rules. This is their duty to themselves and others on the road.
- Breach of duty: Next, you must show that the at-fault party breached that duty of care. Things like distracted driving or speeding can indicate a breach.
- Causation: To succeed in a TBI lawsuit, you must demonstrate that your injury was the direct result of the other person’s actions (or inactions). In other words, if you’re hit by a distracted driver, we would argue and set out to prove that had that driver not hit you, you would not be injured.
- Sustained losses: The final step is to show that you suffered losses or damages as a result of the negligent party’s actions. The financial burdens of TBI can be substantial, with medical bills often accumulating over time, reaching tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Income loss and additional expenses can compound this financial strain. Beyond economic impact, TBI patients often endure chronic pain, emotional trauma, and reduced quality of life.
Clients often think the causation variable is easier to prove than it may be. After all, you were hit by another driver, right? So at first glance, that driver is the one who caused your harm.
In truth, this is often the most challenging part of any claim, particularly those involving brain injuries – and it’s the reason you want to hire an experienced Tulsa injury lawyer in the first place. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to prove that your own actions are the cause of your injuries, no matter how you sustained them.
If your or your loved one’s TBI stems from another party’s negligence, your next step should be legal action to seek appropriate compensation for the damages incurred. You may be entitled to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, long-term care and funeral expenses, if necessary.
Consult with the experienced Tulsa brain injury attorneys at Biby Law Firm. With years of experience handling DAI and TBI claims, we can assess your case, gather evidence, and pursue legal action against the responsible party. Call or contact us today for your free consultation.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after a personal injury, car accident, or oil field injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts. Learn more about Jacob Biby.