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Understanding the Risks of Skull Fractures from North Carolina Traffic Crashes

Anyone who is familiar with North Carolina motor vehicle injuries tends to speak in hushed tones about the tragic results of brain injuries. Brain injuries are widely seen as most often having the worst consequences for a human life. In the first place, the risk of death is very high. Secondarily, though, damage to the brain is notorious for long-lasting consequences: potential paralysis, enduring coma, loss of memory and intellect, loss of sensory functions, and other serious permanent handicaps.

But consider this: if the brain is an egg, the skull is a shell. Motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina can crack the “shell” of the skull with remarkable ease, and there’s nothing good about that. A skull fracture can result from a Wilmington traffic accident in many ways, such as:

  • When a motorcycle crashes into a big-rig truck, and the biker is thrown from his vehicle to strike his head on the pavement.
  • When a head-to-head auto collision on the highway results in a car passenger going through the windshield.
  • When an SUV is rear-ended by a bus, and the driver is propelled forward to strike her head against the steering wheel.

The varieties of skull fractures from New Hanover County traffic collisions

The skull is constructed from eight different bones that bond together by adulthood. Those bones are tough, and the shape of the cranium (the rounded part of the skull) reinforces the sturdiness of the skull. However, a sharp blow to the head—known as blunt force trauma in medical terms—is capable of cracking the bone, and also potentially injuring brain tissue, blood vessels, and skin.

Health care professionals classify adult skull fractures in five different ways:

  • A simple fracture is usually the least threatening to long-term health. This is a break in the bone without damage to the skin.
  • A linear skull fracture is a thin-line crack in the bone. The bone is not shifted out of place. If this fracture occurs along with concussion, then later swelling of the brain can force the crack to lengthen or widen.
  • Compound skull fractures involve damage to the skin combined with a splintering of the cranial bone. The skin injury can range from a deep cut to a severe laceration that removes part of the skin and exposes the skull. The chief risk from a compound skull fracture is infection, especially if dirt or other contaminants have obviously entered the wound.
  • In a depressed skull fracture, a portion of the skull is crushed or shattered and pushed inward to press on the brain. These are generally considered the gravest skull fracture injuries, both because they include injury to brain tissue and because there are very limited options for natural healing of the bone. Surgery is often required. Depressed skull fractures occur in about one of every nine severe head injuries.
  • A basilar fracture is generally considered the most serious type of skull fracture. This injury shatters a bone located at the back of the head, at the bottom of the skull. When this happens, cerebrospinal fluid—a clear liquid that surrounds and cushions the brain—leaks out of the skull and may drain from the patient’s nose or ears. If bacterial infection of the brain follows, death is almost certain.

Essential medical care

A skull fracture is not an injury that can be dismissed. Someone who suffers a skull injury after a North Carolina highway accident needs immediate medical evaluation and may face an extended period of hospital care. Depending on the outcome of his treatment, recovery may be as simple as several weeks of rest or as complicated as major brain surgery and extensive rehabilitative therapy.

If you or someone you love has suffered a skull fracture after a serious traffic accident in New Hanover County, you need to consider whether you want to pay for the cost of this medical care on your own. If the injury was due to the negligence of another person, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your losses. Please call the knowledgeable Wilmington traffic accident lawyers at Speaks Law Firm at 877-593-4233 for a free, no-obligation conference about your case. Just for the call, we’ll be glad to send you a copy of our legal firm’s book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book.