Hematoma: a Common Injury in Car Accidents

Jerry Bowman, Owner and Managing Attorney

Car Accidents
March 6, 2023
Hematoma: a Common Injury in Car Accidents

Car accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, including bruises, cuts, broken bones, and more. One injury that can occur in a car accident that people may not be aware of is a hematoma. A hematoma from a car accident can be much more than a simple bruise. It can be a sign of a very dangerous head injury that could result in death or permanent brain damage. In this article, the Colorado car accident lawyers at Bowman Law take a closer look at what a hematoma is, the different types of hematoma injuries, symptoms, causes, treatment, and long-term effects.

What is a Hematoma Injury?

A hematoma is a type of injury that occurs when there is bleeding outside of blood vessels. The bleeding can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma or injury, and can occur in various parts of the body, such as the skin, organs, or muscles. Hematomas can vary in size and severity, ranging from small and harmless to large and dangerous.

An X-ray of a human head to detect for a hematoma

Brain Hematoma Types After a Car Accident

There are two main types of hematomas that can occur in car accidents.

Subdural Hematoma

A subdural hematoma occurs when there is bleeding between the brain and the dura mater, the protective membrane that surrounds the brain. This type of hematoma occurs when the bridging veins are torn during rapid or sudden changes in velocity, thus causing an accumulation of venous blood below the dura but above the arachnoid membrane (i.e., the “subdural space”). This type of hematoma can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Epidural Hematoma

An epidural hematoma occurs when there is bleeding between the skull and the dura mater. This type of hematoma occurs when an artery is injured and arterial blood accumulates between the dura and the calvarium. This type of hematoma can also be life-threatening and requires prompt medical attention.

Hematoma following a car accident can be traumatic.

Symptoms of a Hematoma

The symptoms of a hematoma can vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Symptoms associated with a subdural hematoma can include headaches, confusion, seizures, weakness or numbness, loss of consciousness, and slurred speech. Symptoms associated with an epidural hematoma can include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, weakness or numbness, and loss of consciousness.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Loss of movement (paralysis)
  • A persistent headache
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Unsteadiness
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Pupils are not equal in size
  • Slurred speech
  • Lethargy

A hematoma after a car accident in Colorado is dangerous because the collection of blood between the brain and the skull puts pressure on the brain and begins to compress the brain, causing progressively worsening damage. The pressure and compression on the brain results in brain injury and damage. This can also impair a person’s ability to breathe and the body’s ability to control blood flow. This type of brain injury has led to coma, death, and/or permanent brain damage. 

A person grips their head in pain while exiting a car

Can a Car Accident Cause a Hematoma?

Car accidents can cause hematoma injuries. The impact from a car accident can cause trauma to various parts of the body, resulting in bleeding and the formation of hematomas. Head injuries are a common cause of subdural and epidural hematomas in car accidents, as the force of impact can cause the brain to shift inside the skull, leading to bleeding.

Diagnosing and Treating a Hematoma

It is imperative to seek medical attention if you suspect that you have a hematoma, especially if it’s a subdural or epidural hematoma. Seeking prompt medical attention and treatment can be a matter of life and death. The longer a hematoma goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more it can grow and put pressure on the brain. Without question, these types of injuries can be life-threatening.

Unfortunately, the need for medical treatment is not always obvious when a person suffers a hematoma in a car accident in Colorado. It may develop slowly, sometimes taking hours, if not days, to appear. In fact, it is possible for a person to feel perfectly fine after a head injury when they actually suffered a traumatic brain injury

When a personal injury victim seeks medical attention for a hematoma after a car accident in Colorado, the medical doctor will likely conduct a physical examination first. In addition, the medical doctor will also likely order one or more of the following diagnostic tests to look for signs of intracranial bleeding and, thus, to confirm or rule out the existence of a hematoma:

  • Ct Scan;
  • MRI Scan;
  • Angiogram.
A close-up of a doctor with a tablet discussing diagnosis with patient

Types of Hematoma Treatments

The treatment for a hematoma depends on the location of the injury. Mild hematomas may not require any treatment and will go away on their own within a few days or weeks. However, more severe hematomas may take several weeks or even months to heal, and often require surgery to remove the clot and stop the bleeding. It is frequently the case that surgery is the only treatment that can save a person’s life with a potentially fatal brain injury. One surgery is a Burr Hole Trephination, which involves drilling a hole in the skull over the hematoma area to suction out the blood through the hole. A second surgery, a Craniotomy, involves removing (and later replacing) a section of the skull to gain better access to the hematoma to reduce the intracranial pressure. Pain medication and rest may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Long-Term Effects

While many hematomas will heal with proper treatment, some may leave long-term effects, especially if they are located in the brain. Long-term effects of hematomas can include memory loss, cognitive impairment, and other neurological deficits. 

Contact a Colorado Car Accident Lawyer

If you have suffered a hematoma injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Free Consultation

At our law firm, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that a car accident can take on you and your family. We are committed to fighting for the justice and compensation that you deserve. 
Contact Bowman Law today for a free consultation to discuss your case. We serve the surrounding areas of Denver as well as Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins.