While many injuries resulting from a car accident are obvious at first glance, traumatic brain injury can be hard to detect. The effects may at first appear subtle, but can get worse, and can affect people for the rest of their lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 2.5 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year. About 50,000 of these are fatal, while another 2.2 million are treated in emergency rooms and 280,000 are hospitalized. A little more than 14% of these are the result of car accidents. The CDC estimates that at least 5.3 million people in America are living with the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injuries stemming from car accidents usually result from a blow to a person’s head. Sometimes, a blow to the head can cause swelling in the brain. This swelling causes the brain to push against the inside of the skull, which can lead to damage to brain tissues. Since the brain doesn’t heal the same way other parts of the body do, this damage can be permanent.

Symptoms of brain injury can include motor impairment, cognitive problems, loss of sensation or changes in psychology and social skills. These can make it hard or impossible for the sufferer to return to work. Some may need extensive care even after they are discharged from a hospital.

The injured and their families face enormous medical and rehabilitative costs, in addition to other life-changing consequences. When these damages are the result of another person’s negligence, they may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury claim.

Because traumatic brain injury is difficult to diagnose and treat, and because the damages in these cases can be extensive and hard to calculate, the injured and their families should seek out help from a personal injury attorney with experience in brain injury cases.