If you receive a head injury in an accident, such as a car crash or a fall, you may be diagnosed with a concussion or TBI after the incident. Although both injuries involve head trauma, they can differ in severity and impact on your life, which can affect the compensation you receive in a personal injury claim.

Understanding the difference between a concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is crucial when seeking a settlement in a personal injury case. The Indiana brain injury attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you get an accurate diagnosis for your head injury and file for maximum compensation to pay for your damages.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury often caused by a blow to the head, a fall, or a sudden jolt that causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. The impact can disrupt normal brain function, resulting in a wide range of symptoms lasting for days or weeks.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Sensitivity to light and noise

These signs may not appear immediately and can manifest several hours or even days after the initial injuries.

A passenger in a car who hits their head against the window or dashboard during a crash may experience a concussion.

What is a TBI?

A TBI is a type of brain injury caused by an external force that affects the brain’s normal function. TBIs can be classified as either “closed” or “open” injuries. Closed injuries occur when the brain is jolted or shaken inside the skull, but the skull remains intact. Open injuries occur when an object penetrates the skull and damages the brain that way.

Doctors use the Glasgow Coma Scale to determine the severity of a TBI. This scale measures an individual’s level of consciousness and responses to stimuli, such as whether they can verbally respond to questions, after a head injury. The following scores show TBI severity:


Score TBI Severity
13 – 15 Mild TBI
9 – 12 Moderate TBI
3 – 8 Severe TBI


Common types of TBIs include:

  • Concussion: Concussions are a form of TBI caused by a blow or jolt to the head.
  • Contusion: A contusion is a bruise on the brain caused by a direct impact to the head.
  • Brain Hemorrhage: A brain hemorrhage is bleeding in the brain that a traumatic injury, a ruptured blood vessel, or an aneurysm can cause.
  • Intracranial Hematomas: An intracranial hematoma is a collection of blood that forms outside the brain or within the skull.
  • Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury: A coup-contrecoup brain injury happens when there is an impact on both sides of the brain, causing injury. This usually occurs when there is a direct impact to one side of the head, causing the brain to hit the opposite side of the skull.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): A DAI is a severe form of TBI that happens when the brain is violently shaken or rotated.
  • Penetrating Brain Injury: A penetrating brain injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and damages the brain.

Symptoms of a TBI can include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

What is the Difference Between a Concussion and TBI?

Simply put, all concussions are TBIs, but not all TBIs are concussions.

Although concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there are differences between the two diagnoses. A concussion is generally considered a mild TBI, although concussions can range from mild to severe depending on whether the victim remains conscious.

In most cases, concussions are temporary and symptoms resolve within 14 to 21 days. Victims may be temporarily unable to work while they recover, but it is not usually a permanently disabling injury.

A TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe and is caused by more serious impact to the head or a penetrating injury. TBIs often cause long-lasting or even permanent brain damage that can alter victims’ mental and physical capability, as well as their personality, and directly interfere with work, relationships, and quality of life.

Even a mild TBI can cost $13,564 for one year of treatment. Recovery from a TBI can take much longer.

What Damages Can You Receive for a TBI?

If you suffer a TBI in an accident like a fall or car crash through no fault of your own, you can seek damages from the party who caused your injury. Indiana is an at-fault state, which means you can file a personal injury claim against a negligent party for economic and non-economic damages resulting from your TBI.

Your attorney with Wagner Reese can help you receive damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitative care expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Property damage (such as in a car accident)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Cost of assistive equipment (such as a wheelchair)
  • Loss of consortium
  • Disability
  • Decreased earning capacity
  • Long-term care
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can also seek punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were especially malicious. If you and your attorney can show with clear and convincing evidence that the other party acted with malice, fraud, or gross negligence, you can win up to three times your compensatory damages, up to $50,000.

Learn More During a Free Consultation with Our Law Firm

If you have suffered a brain injury, seek the help of a skilled brain injury attorney. At Wagner Reese Injury Lawyers, we understand the serious nature of brain injuries and their long-term effects on you and your quality of life.

Our attorneys have the experience, knowledge, and resources to help you receive the full financial compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options and get started on rebuilding your life after a TBI.