Traumatic Brain Injury’s Most Likely Victims

The group that is most vulnerable to traumatic brain injury following a car crash is men in their early 20s. Common symptoms of TBI are nausea, disorientation, and headaches.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A motor vehicle accident can change your life forever
  • Millions of Americans are injured in car crashes each year
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a silent but deadly epidemic
  • There are many symptoms of TBI that are easily missed
  • Men are two times more likely to die from TBI than women
  • Individuals aged 20-24 are most likely to suffer from TBI

Being involved in a car accident can be one of the scariest things in your life.

In an instant, your world spins out of control . . . screeching brakes, broken glass, terrifying screams. Your brain can barely process everything going on.

Adrenaline sets in, and you may not even know you have a piece of glass stuck in your forehead or that you’re walking on a shattered ankle.

What you can control, however, is your car insurance. Compare policies from three to four companies to make sure you have the right coverage!

Nobody’s Invincible


Traffic accidents are far more common than many realize.

The NHTSA estimates that over 2.4 million people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2015 alone.

As much as we would like to think we are invincible, we aren’t. A life-changing traffic accident can happen to any of us. You may feel like the epitome of safety, but you can’t control other drivers and their decisions on the roads around you.

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Silent Killer


In the far too common event of a crash, you need to know about a silent but deadly killer.

By knowing the warning signs, you could save someone’s life — or even your own.

Unlike many wounds that are visible and able to be treated immediately, one of the most deadly injuries occurring in a motor vehicle crash can’t be seen by the naked eye and often isn’t felt until days or even weeks later.

What classifies as a Traumatic Brain Injury(TBI)?

TBI ER Visits and Resulting Deaths Bar and Line Graph ImageTraumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States today.

In fact, 30 percent of all injury-related deaths have this epidemic to blame, and motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of the most devastating forms of TBI.

These moderate to severe cases always require admittance into the neurointensive care unit and in the best outcomes, cause lifelong disabilities.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms of TBI to watch for (in order of severity):

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Changes in the ability to smell
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Agitation
  • Unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma

Symptoms of TBI in young Children:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Persistent crying
  • Unable to be consoled
  • Unusual irritability
  • Change inability to pay attention
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities


You know the warning signs, but do you know just how common this epidemic truly is? The CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — did a thorough report on all documented TBI cases in the U.S., and the results were staggering.

In the U.S. in 2010, there were about 2.5 million ER visits due to TBI, and over 50,000 people died from these brain injuries in that one year alone.

Thus, each year, millions of individuals suffer from brain injuries that require a hospital visit, and most of those affected sustain injuries they will suffer from for the rest of their lives.

But, the scariest part is that over 50,000 people each year are losing their lives to something they have probably never heard of . . . and never saw (or felt) coming.

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Most Likely Victims

TBI Deaths after Car Crash

Anyone can sustain a brain injury, but statistics show that some are more likely to be affected by TBI than others.

Fortunately, we have reported on the exact number of individuals admitted to the ER to be treated for TBI after a motor vehicle accident. This five-year collection of data across the U.S. shows what ages are most likely to get a TBI and be killed by it.

#5 – Ages 35-44

With an average of 19,687 ER visits for TBI after a car crash from 2002-2006, 35-44-year-olds ranked 5th out of 11 age groups. Out of those thousands of hospital visits, an average of 2,458 of this age group died each of those five years. Meaning: Each year, 12 percent of the 35-44-year-olds admitted to the hospital after a car crash for a TBI didn’t survive.

#4 – Ages 45-54

45-54-year-olds are the next most likely group to be affected by a TBI after a traffic accident. This age group had an average of 20,210 visits to the ER for TBI after a crash from 2002-2006. Tragically, there was an average of 2,110 deaths in this age range alone in each of those years. Over 10 percent of those treated didn’t survive.

#3 – Ages 15-19

The jump to the next age group is a drastic one. 15-19-year-olds sustained over double the number of TBIs after a motor vehicle accident than people ages 45-54. With an average of 40,466 ER visits to be treated for TBIs each year from 2002-2006, 15-19-year-olds seem more susceptible to these deadly injuries. An average of 2,344 15-19-year-olds died from TBIs during those five years.

#2 – Ages 25-34

Out of the 11 age groups reported by the CDC, individuals — ages 25-34 — were the second most likely to be affected by a TBI during a traffic accident. They had an average of 42,213 ER visits from 2002-2006. This age group ranks 2nd for ER visits due to TBI, but 1st for deaths from TBI.

Out of ages 0 to over 75, 25-34-year-olds proved to be the most likely to die from TBIs after a car crash, with 2,740 deaths on average those 5 years.

#1 – Ages 20-24

The age group most likely to be affected by TBIs during a motor vehicle accident are 20-24-year-olds. The CDC reports a shocking average of 44,209 ER visits for TBI individuals in their early 20s, from 2002-2006. Out of those treated for TBI, an alarming average of 2,444 20-24-year-olds didn’t survive each of those years.

Targeted Gender

The scope of traumatic brain injury victims doesn’t stop there. Out of the millions of ER visits for TBI each year, the CDC reports an average of 789,925 males treated for TBI, compared to only 574,871 females treated.

And the number of people who died from TBI is an even bigger spread. There were 13,568 females who died, compared to nearly triple that number being males: 37,971.

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The Breakdown


After combing through hospital records of TBI ER visits and deaths, specifically after a motor vehicle accident, we know that men in their early 20s seem to be the most likely targets of this horrible tragedy.

Regardless of your age or gender, you need to know how serious and widespread this silent yet deadly epidemic truly is.

In our nation, millions annually suffer from TBI, and sadly, many of its victims won’t even know what’s wrong until it’s too late.

Be proactive and protect your loved ones. Start by purchasing the right car insurance coverage. Use our free tool to easily compare two to three different policies!

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