You may feel fine after a collision, but many injury types do not show up immediately. In a car accident, some wounds are apparent, such as lacerations, broken bones or burns. However, other bodily damages can have delayed symptoms that take weeks to appear.
Insurance agencies try to close claims quickly, which can present problems if you still need to learn the full scope of your injuries. Since some injuries develop over time, knowing what to look for and taking the necessary steps is vital to protect your health and rights.
Signs of Auto Accident Injuries Are Often Delayed
When an accident occurs, you get a massive rush of adrenaline until your brain can recover from the stress of the incident. Adrenaline can block pain sensations, making it deceptive when you feel okay directly after impact. It only takes seconds to get into a car wreck, but your body goes through several stages of trauma and harm. You may not realize you have injuries until hours, days or weeks later.
Every person's body and brain react differently in traumatic situations. Some people will notice immediate symptoms, while others experience delayed pain. It is crucial to understand that although you may feel fine, you may have significant injuries.
Common Injuries That Appear Later
In addition to increased adrenaline, some injuries take time to develop because of the nature of the bodily harm. Symptoms like inflammation, stiffness from internal tears and damaged discs do not appear immediately. A thorough assessment by a health care professional can help identify possible concerns. You should always seek medical treatment, regardless of how you feel after a crash.
Some damages that often have delayed symptoms include the following:
You may not realize you can sustain a concussion without hitting your head. A forceful blow to your body or a sudden change of motion can cause your brain to slam into the inside of your skull, resulting in head trauma. The impact of your car accident causes your vehicle to stop suddenly, but inertia forces you to continue moving forward. Even if you do not hit your head directly, your brain may suffer injury.
It can be challenging to identify a concussion, especially if you do not have an external bruise, bump or laceration. Knowing the symptoms of a concussion is critical, as some can appear right away while others take hours to manifest. Signs of head trauma can change over days, indicating a more severe injury.
This kind of injury can be life-threatening or have long-term effects. Symptoms of concussions vary, depending on the severity of the damage. Some typical signs include:
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Confusion or brain fog
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Unusual drowsiness or change in sleeping habits
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Irritability, sadness or depression
This common accident injury results from the rapid back-and-forth motion of your body upon impact. People often get whiplash after being rear-ended by another vehicle. Your neck can hyperextend as your head jerks forward and back, causing alignment issues. Whiplash is not a visible injury, making it essential to see a doctor for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Typical symptoms of whiplash include:
- Decreased range of motion in the neck
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the arms
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain in the shoulders, upper back, neck or arms
- Headaches that begin at the base of the skull
Seatbelts often save lives by reducing many risks associated with car accidents. However, they can also cause bodily damage in some instances. The blunt force of your body on the seatbelt can result in abrasions, bruises or fractures. It can also cause internal injuries to your organs or tissues that can take days to show up.
People often suffer internal injuries from motor vehicle crashes, especially in high-speed accidents. If you have abdominal pain the days following your crash, it could indicate internal bleeding. Other signs include dizziness, fainting, bruising, weakness in your legs, difficulty breathing or blood in your stool or urine. Internal bleeding is life-threatening and requires emergency medical treatment.
If you do have internal bleeding, you are also at risk for developing blood clots. Blood clots can travel in your bloodstream and result in a stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Clots often do not cause pain, making it vital to seek professional medical care immediately after your wreck. A doctor can treat your blood clot with anticoagulants, clot-dissolving drugs, leg exercises, compression stockings, or in rare instances, surgery.
You may not experience any symptoms, but some people notice:
- Pain or tenderness in a leg
- Red, warm skin
- Edema in a leg
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord damages are the most severe type of bodily harm resulting from automobile accidents. You may suffer damage to your discs, vertebrae or ligaments or sustain tears in the spinal cord. It is essential to note that the symptoms can be misleading and may develop gradually as swelling and bleeding increase. Because these injuries are not always immediately apparent, seek medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent possible paralysis.
The following symptoms indicate a possible spinal cord injury and require immediate medical attention:
- Loss of movement or altered sensations
- Stinging feelings or intense pain in your back, head or neck
- Spasms or exaggerated reflexes
- Inability to control bladder or bowel functions
- Trouble breathing
- Difficulty balancing
Soft Tissue Damage
Your body's soft tissues include skin, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues. Injuries to soft tissue are the most common accident damages. These wounds are not visible and can lead to severe consequences without proper diagnosis and care.
Sprains, strains and contusions do not always get adequate treatment because people often believe they will heal independently. The swelling, pain and reduced mobility of soft tissue damage can take weeks to develop. If you do not get a proper analysis from a health care professional, your injuries could worsen as time passes and become difficult to treat.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You may not associate PTSD with automobile crashes, but according to the American Psychological Association, car accidents are a significant cause of PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can manifest over weeks or months following a traumatic event.
Signs to watch for include:
Steps To Take After a Car Accident
After a collision, you must take steps to avoid worsening injuries, protect your legal rights and ensure the compensation you deserve. Remain as calm as possible immediately after the wreck. Assess yourself, your passengers and the people in the other car for bodily damages. Call the police to report the incident and acquire assistance.
Document everything at the scene. Take photos of the vehicles, any visible wounds, the street and other relevant factors. Write down notes on paper or in an app on your phone to help you remember details. Record the name of the other driver, exchange insurance information and take down the contact information of any witnesses. Do not discuss any fault regarding the accident. Get medical care as soon as you can and retain all records related to your expenses and treatment.
Injuries from car accidents can require extensive, ongoing care that can quickly become expensive. Contact Johnson Attorneys Group at 1.800.208.3538 to discuss your case and determine how you can protect your rights and secure monetary recovery for damages.