In my experience as an Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer, I have assisted several clients with basal skull fractures and ensured that they received proper compensation. As the injury involves damage to the brain, a basal skull fracture can cause significant problems for victims in their daily lives.
What Is a Basal Skull Fracture?
Basal skull fractures are most often seen in motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and – unfortunately – child abuse cases.
- A basal skull fracture, also referred to as a “basilar skull fracture”, is a fracture at the base of the skull. A basal skull fracture involves at least one of these four bones in the skull:
- Occipital bone – located at the back and lower part of the skull
- Sphenoid bone – located at the base of the skull in front of both temporal bones and the lower part of the occipital bone; wing-like structure which makes up part of the eye sockets
- Ethmoid bone – located between the nasal cavity and the brain cavity, and between the eye sockets
- Temporal bone – located at the bilateral sides and base of the skull
This type of fracture is rare, but is considered a severe head injury when it does occur.
Typical Physical Symptoms
A basal skull fracture victim may experience any or all of the following symptoms:
- Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leaking into the victim’s nose or ear
- Constant runny nose from the CSF
- Bleeding in the inner ear
- Bruising or bloodshot behind the ears
- Bruising around the eyes (commonly referred to as “raccoon eyes”)
A basal skull injury will be diagnosed with a CT scan of the brain. Treatment options are limited for this type of fracture.
Sometimes, if the CSF does not stop leaking into the ears or nose, surgery is recommended. Antibiotics may be given due to the possible risk of infection. Typically, however, basal skull injuries will heal on their own as long as the healing process is not disrupted by re-injury or infection.
While the fracture itself may heal on its own, the larger concern is the extent of brain injury that has occurred.
Basal Skull Fractures and Brain Injury
When the force of the trauma to the head is so great that the skull fractures, brain injury is highly probable. Most people suffering from a basal skull injury have some form of brain injury:, mild traumatic brain injury (a.k.a. concussion), or moderate traumatic brain injury.
In fact, all of my clients who suffered a basal skull fracture have had post-concussive symptoms – and the majority were left with some kind of cognitive deficit as a result.
In cases where the victim has a brain injury as a result of a basal skull injury, it is much more likely that the brain injury will be caught early on by medical professionals and can therefore be treated more efficiently. A skull fracture demonstrates, without question, that injury occurred to the head.
In cases where victims do not have external physical symptoms of head trauma, brain injury can be overlooked in favour of treating more urgent, visible injuries (e.g. broken arm).
People diagnosed with basal skull fractures will more likely than not receive the correct medical advice for proceeding with their brain injury; which usually includes the treatment they need from the beginning. This is particularly true in motor vehicle collision cases, where the fracture will ensure they are immediately out of the “Minor Injury Guideline” and into a category with more funding available.
Cognitive deficits from brain injury do not heal as easily as bone. In my experience, between the fracture and the associated brain injury, the brain injury is typically the more traumatic and long-lasting.
Seeking Compensation for Basal Skull Fractures?
A brain injury significantly impacts every facet of your life. You may have difficulty with concentration, memory, sleep, speech, and the list goes on (click here to learn more about the symptoms and effects of traumatic brain injury).
You will need a team of specialists to facilitate your brain injury rehabilitation. Depending on your specific symptoms, you may need:
- Your family doctor
- An occupational therapist
- A physiotherapist
- A neuropsychologist
- A speech language pathologist
- A case manager
- A lawyer
Choosing a lawyer familiar with basal skull fractures and brain injury will ensure that your brain injury is recognized and addressed. Furthermore, an experienced lawyer can act as your case manager in cases where a case manager is not funded.
Your lawyer will help you receive the compensation you need to reimburse your medical expenses as well as compensation for the impact that the injury has on your life. You may be unable to return to your normal activities of living, such as work, recreational activities, household chores, and so on.
A lawyer familiar with brain injury, who takes the time to understand your life before and after your accident, can help quantify your damages to ease the financial burden and reach the best settlement possible.
>> Roger R. Foisy is an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Ontario who has helped clients with basal skull injuries and brain injuries receive compensation. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, please contact us for immediate support and a free consultation.
*Roger R. Foisy has completed courses in Neurorehabilitation, Advanced Brain Injury Rehabilitation, and Neuropsychological Assessments: Beyond Testing from Brock University. However, he is not a medical professional. The advice in this blog is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.
I Encourage You to Watch My Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Video Series:
- What is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)?
- Why are Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries Often Missed?
- Accessing Funding for Medical Rehabilitation after Suffering a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in a Motor Vehicle Accident
- Finding the Right Team for Your Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
- Coping with the Emotional and Psychological Impact of a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury