When you hear that your loved one has been in a serious car accident and they’re unconscious, it may feel like the entire world just dropped out from under your feet. You have a ton of questions, and it may seem like there are no clear answers.

One thing you want to know is whether your loved one is going to wake up and, if they do, what their capacity to function will be like.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are usually assessed using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The GCS is an objective way of measuring someone’s level of consciousness after they’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury using both spontaneous and stimulated signifiers. Doctors look at the patient’s:

  • Eye movements
  • Vocalizations or verbal responses
  • Motor responses or movements

The lower the GCS score within the first 24 hours following an injury, the less likely that a patient will regain consciousness or fully recover. A GCS score between 13 and 15 indicates a mild brain injury (although even a mild injury can leave victims with permanent neurological problems), while a GCS score between 9 and 12 indicates a more serious brain injury. Injury victims who score 8 or less on the GCS have the most serious conditions.

The reality is that any injury that leaves someone unconscious — even for a few minutes — is serious. There’s no guarantee that anybody who is knocked into a coma following a car wreck will wake up, and you won’t know what they’re facing until they do. If your loved one was hurt in a serious crash caused by a negligent driver, find out more about how to pursue the compensation necessary to provide for their future.