If you’re involved in a vehicle accident and it looks like the only damage is to your car, there could still be a lot on your mind. Excluding any apparent medical issues, your foremost thought might be how you will get to work the next day if your car is undrivable. Walking away from a car accident with an assumption of not being hurt could provide welcome relief, but it doesn’t mean you should take “see a doctor” off your to-do list. The doctor visit may be one of the most important things you do after a car accident even if you’re not feeling any immediate pain.
Because damage compensation in California is based on the “at-fault” system rather than a “no-fault” arrangement, you may need to file a claim against the driver responsible for causing you harm. Assuming that you didn’t cause the accident, your recovery of damages could reflect any physical injuries you suffered and include compensation for your medical expenses. Immediate post-accident medical documentation could provide a significant advantage in the success of your claim. If you suffered any latent injuries, which do not show immediate symptoms, a post-accident medical consultation could prove to be a critical factor in the outcome of your case.
Certain Vehicle Accident Injuries Can Show Delayed Symptoms
According to estimates reported by the National Safety Council, there were 4,800,000 medically consulted injuries that occurred in the U.S. in 2020 as a result of 3,400,000 associated vehicle crashes. More than six million drivers were involved in those accidents. Although the NSC does not provide details regarding the time span between a physically traumatic event and a medical consultation, there are several types of injuries that are often associated with vehicle accidents that can show no symptoms at first. They may, however, later develop into painful and sometimes disabling medical conditions.
Some car accident injuries that may show delayed symptoms include:
- Lower back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Whiplash-related injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Detached retina injuries
The issues involving latent physical harm resulting from a car accident are both legal and medical. If you wait to see a doctor, it may be difficult to prove that the injuries you experienced didn’t come from another event that occurred after your car accident. In addition to helping you win a fair and deserved settlement, seeking immediate medical attention could also improve treatment outcomes involving health issues with delayed symptoms.
Head and Brain Injuries Could Become Life-Altering Issues
If you experience a blow to your head or face, it could lead to a serious and possibly life-altering condition, such as a traumatic brain injury. Adults involved in car accidents could show late-onset brain injury symptoms that do not appear until two or more weeks after the physical trauma occurred. The delayed symptoms may not always be physical; they could also display as cognitive or emotional issues. In some cases, certain emotional symptoms, such as depression or anxiety could develop months after suffering a brain injury.
Visiting a doctor immediately after a vehicle accident could determine if a delayed symptom injury occurred. In cases involving less serious forms of brain injuries, a medical professional can make an assessment based on simple procedures such as asking you to complete a questionnaire or checklist and observing how you perform in coordination tests. A doctor may also check your ability to maintain your focus and balance.
The CDC estimates that between 80,000 to 90,000 individuals develop long-term disabilities from their traumatic brain injuries each year. Some of those cases reflect lifelong medical conditions. Although there may be no immediate symptoms following a car accident, imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans could make a significant difference through early detection and follow-up treatment.
Head Injury Symptoms That Could Appear in Children
Children who experience a head injury in a car accident may display specific delayed symptoms that differ from those appearing in adults. Because children's brains and bodies are still developing, they could show symptoms and effects that include:
- Hyperactivity or attention deficit disorders
- Language or speech problems
- Anxiety issues
- Learning disorders
- Joint and muscle problems
- Developmental delays
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the causes of childhood disabilities. Due to their age-related and specialized recovery needs, optimal treatment could require long-term strategies and accommodations. When a careless driver has caused harm to a child riding in a car, it may be necessary to consider a personal injury suit against the at-fault individual to provide for an adequate recovery program.
Back Injuries Are Common, but Symptoms May Appear Weeks Later
Back injuries are common aftereffects of car accidents, and their symptoms may also not appear until days or weeks later. Sciatica is a commonly reported delayed symptom. It can show as moderate or severe pain that begins in the lower back and travels down to the legs and feet. Sciatica can develop when the spine is jolted or impacted during a vehicle collision. In addition to chronic pain, it can become a major factor in a long-term disability if left untreated.
Other back-related injuries that may show delayed symptoms include:
- Joint injuries
- Damaged spinal discs
- Damaged ligaments, commonly called sprains
- Damaged muscles or tendons
Car accident injuries that affect the spine can lead to a delayed onset of severe pain, loss of mobility or inflammation. Herniated discs and other conditions that develop over time and exert pressure on the nerves in the spinal column could become both stressful and disabling. Overall, injuries affecting the spine can affect the body’s entire central nervous system, which in turn could hamper the proper functioning of a range of normal body motions. In addition to displaying delayed symptoms, severe spinal issues can develop from accidents in which the involved vehicles show very little damage.
Some Delayed Symptoms Could Be Warning Signs of a Serious Condition
If you delay seeing a doctor after a car accident, you may later find yourself developing symptoms that could be warning signs of a serious or long-term medical condition. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible could prevent the symptoms from worsening. In the event that you have already delayed your visit to a doctor, it’s important to be aware of certain post-accident warning signs.
Delayed symptoms that indicate a need to seek medical attention as soon as possible may include:
- Dizziness or blurred vision
- Memory issues or problems concentrating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shoulder or back pain
- Reduced range of motion
- Stiff neck
- Loss of feeling in the hands or feet
A Personal Injury Suit Could Cover the Damages an Insurance Company May Prefer To Ignore
In addition to providing documentation to help you win a fair and deserved settlement, seeing a doctor after a car accident could help prevent a life-altering medical condition from developing later. Whether your injuries are latent or immediate, the Johnson Attorneys Group can help you obtain the damages award you deserve when another driver’s negligence causes you or a family member harm.
Accepting an offer from an at-fault driver’s insurance company may not provide a reasonable degree of compensation for your pain, suffering and emotional distress. A personal injury suit, however, could show the court evidence of how a vehicle accident impacted your life. We can be reached 24 hours each day at 1 (800) 208-3538 to set up a no-fee case review. You will not be charged any fees unless we win your case.