After you’ve been in a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed and confused. Your adrenaline is flowing and you’re likely more concerned about passengers or damage to the car than about yourself. If you have no immediately clear injuries, you may simply think you’re fine. However, after a car accident, some symptoms don’t show up until days or even weeks later.
Learn about which injuries may have delayed symptoms and what you need to do to protect your rights.
Even “Minor” Injuries Can Have Long-Term Consequences
Things like cuts and serious fractures are immediately noticeable after an accident, but other injuries can be even more serious yet not so easily seen. You could, for example, have whiplash or a concussion but not even realize it at the time of the accident. A minor neck ache you dismissed could, in fact, end up being a herniated disc that will have a long-term impact on your life. This is why it’s important to get medical attention as soon as you can after a crash, even if you feel okay at first. Emergency responders and your doctor will know what to keep an eye out for when they are examining you after a car accident.
Common Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Pains and minor aches could signal a more serious issue. After an accident, you should pay particular attention to any of the symptoms listed below.
- Pain in the stomach: Stomach pain could signal something serious, such as internal bleeding. Report any nausea you experience to your doctor as well.
- Shoulder and/or neck pain: Whiplash tends to be overlooked by car accident victims despite being a common post-crash injury. It can go away on its own in some cases, but for many people, it causes ongoing mobility and health troubles.
- Headache: Head pain or any dizziness can mean a neck injury or concussion. In some cases, it may signal something more serious, such as a blood clot. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is seen in car accidents, and this can have serious long-term and even life-threatening consequences.
- Radiating pain or numbness: Numbness, prickling or stinging sensations after a car accident may indicate a herniated disc or pinched nerve. Both conditions need treatment to prevent mobility issues down the line.
- Pain in the back: Back pain may mean a soft tissue injury, sprain, spinal injury or herniated disc.
- Pain or suffering: After a car accident, you may experience emotional issues such as anxiety. These are conditions just like any other injury and need to be treated.
Concussions and TBI
Both TBIs and concussions are common post-accident injuries that don’t show symptoms immediately. While a TBI can be life-threatening, many do not require treatment in the ICU or emergency surgery. However, it’s important to note that even a mild TBI can have a major impact on your health over the long term. Common symptoms of this type of injury include:
- Problems with balance
- Ear ringing
- Vision trouble, such as blurriness
- Sleep pattern changes
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Changes in mood
Injuries to the Soft Tissue
Some soft tissue injures, including bruises, may not show up until days have passed after the accident. You can also damage your ligaments, tendons and muscles without being aware of it at the time. Soft tissue injuries can have a real impact on your ability to work and go about your day as you did before the accident, causing lost wages and lowering your quality of life.
Your Medical Records Matter
Doctors’ notes and your medical records will be a big part of your personal injury claim. Your auto accident lawyer will review those records to get a real sense of your injuries, and they will serve as evidence to the insurer involved in your case. Keep in mind that when you get treatment as soon as possible, it will be more difficult for the insurance company to claim that your symptoms were caused by something other than the accident or that you are exaggerating your injuries.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact an auto accident lawyer about your case as soon as you can.