Indiana Car Accident Victim Survives “Internal Decapitation”

Head injuries and spinal cord injuries are common Indiana car accident injuries. Less recognized is a condition known as “internal decapitation.”A 22-year-old man from Indiana suffered this condition and incredibly survived. Even more stunning was the fact that this is the third time he’s reportedly cheated death. When he was born, he wasn’t breathing and suffered seizures. He was saved by CPR. Then as a teenager, he endured radiation and chemotherapy to survive a serious brain tumor. Now, he is reported to have beaten the odds with an internal decapitation after a serious car accident as he rode in the bed of a pickup truck.

As reported by Beacon Health System, internal decapitation occurs when the ligaments that attach the skull to the spine become severed. The head remains physically attached to the body, so “decapitation” is a bit of a misnomer, but it is still very serious because it can result in head movements that can lead to damage of the lower brain stem, which is essential to breathing function.

Local news reports of the incident explain that the car accident occurred in January, when the friend driving his pickup truck (because he’d been drinking) encountered a patch of ice, slid a long distance, and then flipped, causing the victim’s head to smash into the truck’s back window. Survival of this type of injury is rare, doctors said, with most either dying instantly or while being transported to the hospital. In this case, the man’s friend held him still on the ground so that he wouldn’t try to stand up before paramedics arrived. The emergency crews then worked very carefully to stabilize him before transporting him to the hospital. A spokesman for the South Bend hospital said this was only the second time they had ever treated a patient with this type of injury.

The crash victim had to undergo surgery for placement of a skull plate, rods, and spinal screws in his neck to stabilize the injury. He was also required to undergo physical therapy and wear a neck brace for several months. He has ongoing difficulties with movement of his right arm, as well as chronic pain in his lower extremities. Continued treatment and physical therapy are helping him to regain some of his prior function. Doctors described his recovery process as both painful and frustrating, but they noted he is expected to heal. It’s unclear what his long-term functioning will be.

In a case like this, our car accident attorneys recognize there may be several avenues of recovery for damages. Indiana is a “tort” state when it comes to auto insurance liability, which means you don’t have the benefit of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that would provide for medical costs and lost wages regardless of fault. In a situation in which someone else is driving your vehicle with permission, it’s generally the auto insurance tied to the vehicle (yours) that would kick in first – assuming the policy doesn’t explicitly exclude a party from coverage. If the person borrowing/driving the car was covered, his/her insurance will kick in to provide secondary coverage for the accident he/she caused. This may include medical expenses, personal liability, and any damage left over once the limit of primary coverage is exceeded. Depending on the severity of the injuries, you may be entitled to underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage if those two policies combined do not provide enough coverage.

Discussing your options with an experienced car accident attorney is imperative because most insurance carriers will attempt to deny coverage and evade liability in these types of cases.

Indiana Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove handles personal injury claims throughout northern Indiana, including Highland, Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:

Young man stuns doctors after surviving internal decapitation, brain cancer, Beacon Health System

More Blog Entries:

Indiana University Study: Motorcycle Passengers More Likely to Suffer Head Injuries Than Drivers, April 5, 2018, Indiana Car Accident Attorney Blog


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