You’re sitting in your car at a red light, on your way to work. You’re watching the light and the car ahead of you. Everything seems normal. It’s a commute you have made hundreds or even thousands of times.

Suddenly, there’s an explosion of sound and light. You feel yourself get thrown forward. Your head hits the side window as your car lurches forward and spins. That’s when you black out.

What happened?

When you come to, you’re in the hospital. You find out that the driver behind you was texting. They hadn’t looked up for probably five or six seconds. They had no idea you stopped. They just plowed right into your car at 60 miles per hour.

The biggest physical issue you face is from your head hitting the window. Doctors think you have a brain injury. They’re looking for symptoms like:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Trouble waking up or falling asleep
  • Persistent headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • And much more

You quickly grow concerned. Just how bad is it? If you do have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), what does your healing time look like?

Your path

The truth is that your path to healing may be different from anyone else’s. It depends on the severity of the injury. Some people with a concussion — a relatively mild TBI — recover in just a day or two. Others have persistent symptoms for months. You’re going to miss work the day of the crash, of course, but you could be back by Monday.

Or, you could find that you can never work again. Some TBIs lead to life-long changes. Your entire personality can shift. You may struggle to concentrate. Simply physical or mental acts that you once did well may prove impossible. You could become depressed and anxious. You may need no care at all or long-term care for basic functions around the house.

It cannot be stressed enough: Every case is different. Much remains unknown about brain injuries, but it’s clear that they manifest differently in different situations. Doctors will do their best, and they can give you some estimates about healing times and things of this nature. But it is often very hard to predict.

Your life

For you, what changes will this injury bring about? If you miss time at work, does that make it hard to make ends meet? How do you pay those hospital bills? If you can never work again, who will be the breadwinner for your family?

With all of these questions and more, be sure you know what legal rights you have after a serious car accident.