How Do You Know if Your Child Has Suffered Brain Damage After an Accident?

A child in a car seat looking out of an open car door after a minor collision.Accidents that happen while playing sports, enjoying the playground, or riding in a car are just a few ways that a child can suffer brain damage. Unfortunately, these everyday activities can have catastrophic results when things go wrong.

It is always important to rule out the possibility of brain damage after any serious car accident or physical injury. A child’s brain is constantly developing until adulthood, meaning that any injuries can have more serious consequences than one would think.

Brain damage may cause your child to suffer from developmental delays and even create a permanent disability that requires constant care and medical treatment.

If you suspect your child suffered a brain injury after an accident, seek medical help right away, and then consider calling an attorney to help you recover the costs of medical bills and other treatments from any at-fault parties. Bert McDowell Injury Law provides knowledge and legal support throughout the injury claims process, helping you seek compensation for medical bills, ambulance rides, and any future surgeries your child may need because of the accident.

Reach out to us today to schedule your free, confidential initial consultation by calling (203) 590-9169 or submitting our online form to get started.

What Are Some Primary Causes of Brain Damage in Children?

Children play, run, and sometimes appear to lack a sense of personal safety — all of which are normal. But when an accident happens, and a child hits their head with an object, it is possible that they will develop brain damage as a result.

Here are some types of accidents that may lead to head injuries and brain damage:

  • Motor vehicle accidents — These events happen when one least expects them. Children face possible brain injury when the force of the motor vehicle accident causes their heads to collide with part of the car or airborne debris.
  • Falls — Falls are responsible for over half of TBIs in children 0 – 14. A child who falls may hit their head with another object, including the ground. The sudden impact from the blow to the head may lead to swelling and other head-related injuries.
  • Penetrating wounds — Whether it is a car accident, a gunshot wound, or some freak accident, penetrating trauma can easily create life-threatening injuries in young children. Penetrating injuries to the head, in particular, can pierce the brain, creating pressure from the swelling. Children with head penetration wounds should seek immediate emergency medical care, as these injuries are life-threatening and may cause developmental issues in the future.
  • Sports injuries — Having your child participate in athletics is great for their development and overall health, but even the safest sports come with the added risk of head injury. Contact sports, specifically, carry an enormous risk of sports injury, as tackling may cause a sudden jolt to the head at any given time.
  • Violence — Unfortunately, children may be exposed to violence through classmates and even at home. Any blunt object strike or forceful blow to the head may cause severe damage to the brain.
  • Other struck by/against incidents — Any blunt force to a child’s head is grounds for causing head injuries like concussions, a skull fracture, traumatic brain injuries, hematomas, and more. This can happen while they play sports, ride bikes, use the monkey bars, fall over, and even when getting into or out of the car.

Are Some Children More at Risk Than Others to Develop Brain Damage?

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children are overall at an elevated risk of developing mental and behavioral issues, like anxiety, depression, and acute stress disorder, even after exposure to a mild head injury.

Overall, children under the age of four, teenagers between the ages of 15-17, and males of any age are at a higher risk of receiving a brain injury that may lead to brain damage. Children between the ages of 10-13 were 42% more likely to develop mental and behavioral issues than other age groups within two years after an accident resulting in a brain injury.

What Are the Symptoms of Brain Injuries in a Child?

No one wants to see their child hurt. However, knowing how to recognize the signs of head injury is crucial in getting them the care they need to recover.

The Mayo Clinic states that brain injury symptoms  in children primarily appear in changes in behavior:

  • Any changes in eating habits (or nursing habits for infants)
  • Temperament changes, like mood swings and irritability or fussiness
  • Excessive crying that does not match their usual behavior or inconsolable crying
  • Changes to their sleep patterns
  • Seizures
  • Depression and other signs of sadness
  • Loss of interest in their favorite toys and activities

A child may display one or a combination of these symptoms. As a parent, if you suspect that your child is displaying unusual behavior, you must ensure they receive the medical evaluation to diagnose and begin treatment for their condition.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries may show a combination of physical and cognitive symptoms and vary from mild to moderate to severe.

Children are often unable to communicate how they feel. They cannot tell their parents or caregivers that they have a headache or sensory problems.

In turn, doctors will ask if your child has experienced a combination of physical, sensory, or cognitive symptoms and perform an imaging test to confirm a diagnosis. For this reason alone, monitoring your child for any symptoms is vital to helping reach a diagnosis.

In many cases, children suffer from a mild TBI rather than more complex conditions. Mild brain injury symptoms may include vomiting, drowsiness, issues stringing words, and loss of balance.

These might be hard to detect in a child, especially one young enough to have just learned to walk, and they are definitely easier to detect in older children. Apart from physical symptoms, mild cases include sensory and cognitive symptoms that may display as a loss of consciousness, memory loss, mood changes, and sensitivity to light.

Moderate to severe TBI cases showcase the same symptoms as a mild brain injury but have additional symptoms that appear as soon as a few hours after a blow to the head. These symptoms may include clear fluids coming from their nose and ears, weakness, confusion, seizures, and for the child to lose consciousness.

What Is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is a form of child abuse where an adult forcefully shakes or jostles an infant or toddler. As a result, the infant’s brain cells are damaged or destroyed, and the injury prevents the brain from receiving enough oxygen, leading to permanent brain damage that may last their entire lifetime.

An infant who has suffered this form of abuse may display one or many of these symptoms that include:

  • Abnormal fussiness and irritability
  • Changes in their ability to eat or eating habits
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale or blueish skin
  • Paralysis
  • Vomiting

Shaken baby syndrome does not always show physical signs like contusions and lacerations; however, the child may have internal injuries and bleeding that require a medical evaluation and diagnosis to identify.

Are There Any Medical Complications That Come From Brain Damage?

Complications may arise from a brain injury and can occur immediately or very soon after the accident. These complications may present themselves intellectually, physically, and in altered states of consciousness.

Unfortunately, these symptoms may last for weeks on end, even with medication and treatment.

Physical complications may include infections of the wounded area, damage to the blood vessels, headaches, vertigo, seizures, and fluid build-up. While some only discomfort the patient, others may require medication and intervention to control.

Children with brain damage will display intellectual problems throughout life. As a result, they will have issues successfully completing executive functions like problem-solving, multitasking, and organization.

They may even have memory issues or develop a learning disability. In some cases, they can no longer reason properly, affecting their judgment and decision-making abilities.

In the most devastating cases of brain injuries, the victim may live in an altered state of consciousness, like a coma or vegetative state. And in some cases, it is fatal.

The most-severe cases may lead to brain death, which is when the child has no brain activity at all. Once the doctors have determined that there is no brain activity and breathing devices are removed, the child will pass away.

At this point, the medical complication is irreversible.

Can I Do Something to Prevent My Child From Brain Injury?

While it is impossible to protect your child from everything, parents should practice safety first when their child is on a bike, playing sports, and even when riding in a car. Children should always wear an appropriately sized helmet that fits snugly and is designed for their activity (bike riding, playing sports, skateboarding, etc.).

This can be encouraged by letting your child choose the helmet they like and promoting activities like decorating to make them think more positively about it.

If your child is riding in a car, ensure they are in a car seat that is appropriate for their age. Children who experience brain damage from injury after a car accident likely received it because they were not properly secured in their car seats or they did not fit properly in them.

Who Might Be Responsible for My Child’s Brain Injury?

In some cases where a child has sustained a brain injury, you may have a legal claim against another party for negligence, defective products, or intentional abuse.

Possible liable parties that could be named in an injury claim or lawsuit include:

  • At-fault drivers who injured your child in a motor vehicle accident, pedestrian accident, or bicycle accident
  • Manufacturers of defective and unsafe bicycles, toys, and sports equipment (including helmets)
  • Grossly negligent or intentionally abusive daycare staff, coaches, or other individuals tasked with child supervision
  • Medical providers who committed malpractice
  • Negligent property owners or occupants who failed to prevent, address, or adequately warn against a hazard, such as a slippery pool of floor cleaner or a tripping hazard
  • Criminals who physically assaulted or used a firearm against your child

A successful injury claim can help you recover all losses directly related to the injury, including the costs of medical treatment, the losses of income you experienced while needing to tend to your child, and the pain and suffering you have experienced as a family.

Bert McDowell Injury Law Is Here to Help You and Your Child

Knowing that your child is hurt is difficult for any parent to bear. But when you understand that their injury leads to brain damage, you realize that their life — and yours — is forever changed.

With their new condition, your child might require more help, face new disabilities, and struggle to gain independence. As parents and caregivers, this change may imply new expenses and life-long changes that no one would expect; all of which can drastically impact a family’s finances for the worse.

Parents and caregivers of children who suffered brain damage after an accident might be able to seek compensation from another party’s insurance carrier. However, insurance companies are never keen on paying right away, and when they do, their offers tend to be lower than expected.

If your child was hurt and is now suffering from brain damage, know that you are not alone. Bert McDowell Injury Law is here to help you fight for your child to receive justice for their injury.

Our legal team is more than happy to review your case and let you know your options before requesting compensation from at-fault parties. Reach out to us today and schedule your free, confidential case review with an experienced Connecticut brain injury attorney when you call (203) 590-9169 or submit our online form to get started.