Understanding Blunt Force Trauma to the Head: Causes and Effects

In the US, around 1.7 million people suffer from a traumatic brain injury caused by blunt force trauma to the head. The injury may be sustained through accidental falls or motor vehicle accidents and can range from mild to severe. Mild to moderate injuries are relatively survivable, but severe injuries pose a 15% mortality risk to patients. 

Survivors of traumatic brain injury have a 4 to 40% mortality risk within five years following the injury. Younger patients have a higher chance of survival than older ones. Besides age, patient survivability may depend on comorbidities and secondary injuries.

Everyone should take blunt force head injuries seriously. Aside from procuring health insurance policies and practicing safety measures, people should also prepare for its legal implications. 

Victims may choose to prosecute at-fault parties and claim equitable compensation for damages. However, the processes can be too technical without the help of legal professionals. 

It is advisable to work with a personal injury lawyer to deal with the legal consequences of blunt head trauma. They have the expertise and tools to advocate for your rights and interests. 

Visit The Personal Injury Center to access reliable and easy-to-learn legal resources. We can also help you find reliable lawyers to work on your case.

Key Takeaways
  • Blunt force trauma may occur in different body parts, but the deadliest is a blow to the head.
  • Victims of blunt force head trauma injuries may claim economic, non-economic, and punitive damages against at-fault parties.
  • Blunt force head trauma lawsuits may arise from negligence or intentional tort; both may vary in legal implications.

Knowing More About Blunt Force Trauma 

Blunt force trauma is a bodily injury resulting from a forceful impact using a blunt object. Others call this injury “non-penetrating trauma.” Patients may develop blunt force trauma in different body parts, affecting specific internal organs.

In forensic autopsy practice, blunt force trauma has four general categories—contusion, abrasion, laceration, and fracture.


Contusions are blunt force injuries that tear small blood vessels and connective tissues without breaking the skin layer. The hematoma or internal bleeding may be visible from the top layer, showing black and blue pigmentation. 

To laypeople, contusions are commonly known as bruises. 


Abrasions are open wounds induced by blunt force trauma. Superficial denudation typically occurs when the skin rubs against a sharp object or surface. It is the scientific term for scrapes or grazes. 

Abrasions in the epidermis layer may heal relatively quickly and leave no scar. However, ones on the dermis may scar. 


Lacerations are tears in soft tissues that break the continuity of the skin. Instead of plain or rough surfaces, the skin suffers cuts from sharp objects like glass shards. The wound opening is often irregular and jagged.

Lacerations have classifications according to depth, length, and width. Each type may differ in recovery periods and medical treatment options.


Fractures refer to breaks or cracks in the bones. Breakages affecting soft tissues and penetrating the skin are called compound fractures. 

There are multiple types of fractures. Here are some of them:

  • Avulsion fracture
  • Comminuted fracture
  • Compression
  • Fracture dislocation
  • Greenstick fracture
  • Hairline fracture
  • Impacted fracture
  • Intra-articular fracture
  • Longitudinal fracture
  • Oblique fracture
  • Pathological fracture
  • Spiral fracture
  • Stress fracture
  • Transverse fracture

What is blunt force trauma to the head?

Blunt force trauma to the head results from inflicting non-penetrative pressure on the cranium region. It can heavily damage the brain and increase the fatality risk of patients.

Blunt force head trauma could turn into a traumatic brain injury, depending on the severity of the blow. An example is diffuse axonal injury. It is a serious injury where brainstem fibers tear inside the skull.


The skull protects the brain against physical trauma, enabling the latter to remain intact and functional. However, blunt force trauma could still create temporary and permanent brain damage, even with a protective hard cover.

Injury to the head can happen in many ways. Here are some common causes of blunt force head injury:

  • Slip and fall accident 
  • Car accident without seat belts
  • Contact sports collision
  • Recreational accident
  • Physical assault and abuse
  • Dog bite, especially from larger breeds like rottweilers

Repeated trauma to the head, even if weak, could worsen the injury. Be cautious and seek immediate medical attention to avoid possible complications.


Blunt head trauma victims may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Tinnitus
  • Confusion
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Convulsions
  • Lack of body coordination
  • Muscle weakness and numbness

Blunt force head injury affects each person differently. There is no guarantee that patients will have all the symptoms mentioned above. Some may experience a few, while others do not appear injured.

Also, symptoms of blunt force trauma may not manifest immediately. It is advisable to consult a medical specialist to get a proper diagnosis. 


The effects of blunt force trauma injuries can range from negligible to life-changing. Some patients can live as if nothing happened after the injury, while others require constant support to survive. 

Here are the probable effects of a blunt force head trauma injury:

  • Cognitive impairments
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty of communication
  • Loss of vision
  • Physical deformities
  • Spasticity
  • Ataxia
  • Partial to full-body paralysis
  • Comatose
  • Encephalopathy
  • Limited motor skills
  • Developmental issues (for children)
  • Inability to work
  • Inability to live independently

Patients who experience blunt force trauma injury to the head may no longer live the best quality of life. To cope, they may need to adapt to an entirely new lifestyle.

Diagnosing Blunt Force Trauma Injury

Blunt force head trauma injury is an intricate health condition that requires thorough diagnostic evaluation. Inaccurate and delayed diagnoses may endanger patients’ lives and impair their quality of care. Medical experts recommend the following methods when diagnosing blunt force trauma injury:

  • Medical screening
  • Physical exam
  • Neurological exam 
  • Imaging tests, like MRI and CT scan
  • Psychological evaluation

Doctors use the Glasgow Coma Scale during medical screening to assess the severity of the patient’s brain injury. It is a 15-point guideline instructing patients to follow directions like moving their eyes and limbs.

Despite the advancement of modern technology, imaging tests can still miss signs of blunt force head trauma injuries. Attending doctors may recommend patients repeat the tests and return for reassessments. This is especially true when patients have pre-existing health conditions.

Treatment Options for Blunt Force Trauma Injury

There is no universal medical treatment for blunt force head injuries. Doctors will recommend medications and procedures that correspond to the severity of the injury.

For mild head injuries, patients may not need medications or procedures. If they feel intolerable pain, over-the-counter pain medications should work. Otherwise, they will only need bed rest.

Moderate to severe head injuries require immediate and constant medical care. Doctors may prescribe medications for pain relief and other symptoms. Patients with severe head injuries may require anti-seizure drugs and diuretics.

In most cases, specialists recommend the following procedures to treat blunt force head trauma injuries:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy

Recommended Steps After Experiencing Blunt Force Trauma to the Head

In addition to fear, victims often experience confusion. The same goes for victims of fall accidents and physical assault. They may not know what to do after experiencing a blow to the head.

Before anything else, it is ideal for blunt force head injury victims to stay composed. Acting on high emotions can be dangerous. After regaining your consciousness, you should take the following steps:

Receive immediate medical care

Always prioritize medical help regardless if your head injury is mild, moderate, or severe. It is easier to determine the extent of the damage with the appropriate medical response. 

Besides, patients deliberately avoiding medical intervention could have weaker claims against an insurance company or at-fault party. Pinpointing what caused the health complications may become more challenging.

Get a thorough assessment from licensed medical practitioners

Undergoing recommended medical assessments will help patients gather evidence for their legal claims. They may use medical certificates, laboratory results, and other records as evidence in establishing personal injury claims. 

Victims should not act out of their volition or follow what they see online. As non-experts, they are prone to causing health complications and legal issues.

Identify the liable parties

After ensuring your health and undergoing the needed procedures, reach out to the proper authorities. They will help you build your case against at-fault parties. 

Despite having a well-grounded personal injury claim, parties cannot win the case if they cannot implead the offenders. When the at-fault parties are open to striking a settlement, get in close touch with them.

Keep relevant documents

Be a meticulous record keeper. File every document, receipt, or record that pertains to the accident and medical expenses. These files will come in handy during negotiations or court trials.

Coordinate with other parties involved

As mentioned earlier, it is better to coordinate with at-fault parties. Everyone can discuss how to resolve the issues and find pragmatic solutions.

Besides at-fault parties, victims should also reach out to other victims. They can work together to build a stronger case and hold responsible parties accountable for the injuries they inflicted.

Negotiate for a fair settlement

After gathering evidentiary documents and getting to know all parties, it is time to negotiate. Doing the previously recommended steps will give victims leverage, putting them in a better negotiating position.

Seek legal assistance

Find a reliable law firm and work with a professional personal injury lawyer during negotiations. Their assistance can help protect your rights and privileges.

When someone can guide parties about legal provisions and standards, it is least likely that they would settle for less. Consequently, victims can claim fair compensation and pursue other actions supporting their recovery.

Blunt Force Head Trauma Compensation

In civil cases, parties may claim damages against at-fault parties as a remedy for personal injuries. However, the processes and extent of such claims may differ depending on state laws.

Generally, parties filing civil damages due to personal injury may claim economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. 

Economic damages

Section 14505(1) of the US Code defines economic damages as quantifiable losses that a party incurs due to the injuries caused by an at-fault party. Notably, caps for economic damages exist, and the limitations vary per state.

Victims may claim lost wages and treatment costs as economic damages.

Non-economic damages

Section 14505(3) of the US Code defines non-economic damages as compensation for non-pecuniary losses relating to physical and emotional pain and suffering. It may also cover the loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and hedonic damages. 

Blunt force head trauma victims may file non-economic damages for emotional pains, anxiety, and depression they experienced.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages do not share the same purpose as economic and non-economic damages. In contrast, the court imposes punitive damages to deter at-fault parties from committing the same act causing the victims’ injuries. Thus, it is not compensatory.

Others also call punitive damages “exemplary damages.”

Torts in Blunt Force Trauma Lawsuits

A personal injury lawsuit for blunt force trauma may arise from negligence or intentional tort. Claimants should learn the difference in legal implications between the two to maximize their chance of a favorable court decision. Moreover, filing a case with an erroneous cause of action may prompt the court to dismiss the case.


At-fault parties may cause blunt force head trauma to another by acting negligently. Their acts may stem from substandard performance or non-observance of adequate caution.

Negligence occurs when a party does not render reasonable care a prudent individual would have exerted under similar circumstances. A person may also be negligent when they omit the actions they are supposed to perform.

To establish negligence in a blunt force head trauma lawsuit, claimants should prove the following elements:

  • Legal duty of the defendant not to harm the plaintiff
  • The defendant breached such a duty
  • Plaintiff suffered blunt force head injury because of the defendant’s breach
  • The defendant’s acts were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury

Intentional tort

Compared to negligence, intentional torts are deliberate acts. In this case, the defendant meant to cause blunt force head injury to the victim.

Several intentional torts exist, such as battery, assault, and trespass to land. Each of these requires unique elements to hold an at-fault party civilly liable. However, all intentional torts share the following elements:

  • The defendant performed an overt act
  • The defendant voluntarily committed the said act
  • The defendant’s actions caused injury to the plaintiff
  • At-fault parties often willingly inflict injury on victims out of rage, frustration, and desperation

Did you know?

The infliction of blunt force trauma to the head can cause an aneurysm. This rare condition is known as a traumatic intracranial aneurysm.

Partner With Personal Injury Lawyers You Can Trust

Blunt head trauma injuries can be dangerous and negatively alter victims’ lives. Other than being a serious medical issue, it also raises legal problems. Victims should consider pursuing a personal injury claim after experiencing one. 

Parties may file a negligence or intentional tort lawsuit. Either way, they could claim economic, non-economic, and punitive damages for their losses and injuries. 

A thorough discussion with a personal injury attorney will help parties determine their legal options. Explore The Personal Injury Center to connect with seasoned personal injury lawyers. Get a free consultation today. 

Getting legal protection after receiving blunt force trauma to the head is crucial. Find a competent and reliable personal injury lawyer in your area.

FAQs on Blunt Force Trauma to the Head

The timeframe for each case varies based on the circumstances. For example, the court may need more time for resolution if more than one victim is involved.

Victims should discuss their goals with a personal injury lawyer. In most cases, lawyers advise their clients to choose settlement over a lawsuit since it is faster and cheaper.

Yes. In most cases, lawyers recommend suing the nursing home for the negligence of their staff. The law mandates an establishment to protect the health and safety of residents at all times.