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What Is a Closed Head Injury?

Dec 04, 2023

Head injuries can traumatize you in many ways. They can injure your brain and disfigure your face. As a result, you may require multiple surgeries, long-term therapy, or even a caretaker.

But what is a closed head injury, and how does it differ from other head injuries? Learn about these injuries and how you can seek injury compensation for them.


What Is a Closed Head Injury?

Your head is not a single unit. Instead, it has many layers that each perform a different function.

Your brain is the center of your head, both literally and metaphorically. The brain sits inside the cranial cavity of your skull.

The skull protects the brain in combination with membranes called the meninges and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) contained inside them. Together, these structures form a hard shell with cushioning inside to protect the brain from impacts and jolts.

Closed head injuries happen when a traumatic event injures your head without producing an open wound. There are several examples of closed head injuries.


A concussion is the mildest brain injury you can suffer. Concussions happen when a traumatic event shakes your brain without shaking it hard enough to hit the inside of your skull.

As your brain shakes, the meninges and CSF cushion it. But to cushion the brain, they must exert pressure on it. This pressure damages brain cells. Tissue damage triggers inflammation. As your brain swells and runs a fever, you may experience:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsiness
  • Drowsiness

These symptoms usually clear up within two months, although some people continue to experience symptoms for months or even years.

Cerebral Contusion

A cerebral contusion happens when your brain strikes the inside of your skull. “Contusion” refers to the bruise that develops when the impact ruptures small blood vessels.

The bleeding in the brain, combined with the pressure on your brain from the blood that fills your skull, will often cause permanent brain damage, coma, or even death.

Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)

Brain cells have a long filament called an axon. When your head shakes violently, these axons can tear apart. Without this connection, the ends of the brain cell cannot communicate. DAIs can cause coma or even death. This severe closed head injury is what infants suffer in shaken baby syndrome.

Subdural Hematoma

A subdural hematoma happens when a blood vessel in the brain tears or ruptures. The ruptured blood vessel cannot deliver oxygen to the brain. As a result, some of your brain cells will starve and die.

The blood also fills the area around the brain and squeezes it. The pressure pinches off other blood vessels, starving more brain cells. As the brain damage spreads, you could fall into a coma and die.

Top Causes of Closed Head Injuries

Closed head injuries happen in three main ways.

Blunt Force Trauma

Blunt force trauma happens when an object strikes your head without penetrating the skin. When you fall from a scaffolding in a work accident and hit your head, you suffer blunt force trauma.

Rapid Acceleration or Deceleration

When you rapidly accelerate or decelerate, your head takes time to catch up with your body. As your head whips back and forth, your brain sloshes in the fluid inside your skull. This motion can lead to a concussion, cerebral contusion, or DAI.

Motor vehicle accidents often cause these whipping motions. When your chest hits your seat belt, your body stops moving. But your head whips forward and jolts your brain.


Even if you do not hit your head, an explosion accident can damage your brain. Explosions produce a wave of pressurized air called a blast wave, which can squeeze your head and brain, damaging it.

Establishing Fault

The fault for a closed head injury will fall on the person whose intentional or negligent actions injured you. If the actions were intentional, your brain injury attorneys only need to show that the defendant intended to make harmful contact with you. They do not need to prove they intended to cause a closed head injury.

In most cases, you will instead rely on negligence. You can establish fault under this legal theory by showing the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care, failed to perform that duty, and, as a result, injured you.

The benefit of negligence is that your traumatic brain injury lawyer does not need to prove the other party’s intent. Instead, the lawyer only needs to prove the other party knew or should have known their conduct could injure you.

Pursuing Compensation for a Closed Head Injury

The first step to pursuing injury compensation is often an insurance claim. This claim explains what happened and describes your injuries. An insurance adjuster will investigate your claim and determine whether the insurer will pay or deny your claim. In many cases, the insurer will draw out the process but settle your claim in the end.

If the insurer does not settle your claim, you need to file a lawsuit to continue your pursuit of compensation. This lawsuit gets tried before a jury. You will need to explain:

  • What is a closed head injury
  • How your injury happened
  • How your injury affected you
  • What losses you suffered

The jury can award you damages if they agree the other party injured you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions our clients ask about head injuries.

Does the Type of Head Injury Affect My Claim?

No. A closed head injury entitles you to compensation just as a penetrating head injury would.

Can I Get Compensated for All My Symptoms?

Yes. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your symptoms so they get recorded in your medical records.

What Compensation Can I Get After My Loved One Dies?

In addition to your hard costs for burial, funeral, and hospitals, you can seek compensation for your loss of companionship, society, and comfort.

Contact an Experienced Head Injury Lawyer

What is a closed head injury? No two injuries are the same. However, these injuries can cause outcomes ranging from headaches to death. Contact The Spence Law Firm to discuss your head injury and the compensation you can seek.

Schedule a free consultation with The Spence Law Firm, LLC

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If you are struggling with a serious injury, or are fighting against seemingly impossible odds against big corporations, insurance companies or the government, call us to speak with our team of trial lawyers who will fight for you. We take no fee unless we earn it by winning your case.