If a person walks away from a car accident with seemingly minor injuries, they often consider themselves lucky. The outcome of high-speed collisions can be devastating. With that said, sustaining only a few scrapes and bruises in an accident of this magnitude clearly looks like a fortunate outcome.
Even if you feel alright as you exchange information with the other motorist, speak to law enforcement and take other vital steps to protect yourself after a crash, it does not necessarily mean that you are not injured. We always recommend consulting a medical professional after an accident for a reason.
Only a qualified medical expert can check for injuries that might not manifest immediately. Most people are stressed after a crash, which causes the brain to obstruct or ignore pain signals allowing you to focus on keeping yourself safe.
What if you experience pain hours or days after a crash?
If you have already seen the doctor and told you are fine, you may be especially tempted to simply ignore a new ache or pain. You might feel that it will pass, but that may not always be the case. It is possible to sustain serious injuries that require medical attention even in low-speed accidents. Seemingly minor symptoms may be signal a deeper problem.
Car accident victims often sustain whiplash, but it is not the only injury that can conceal itself for a few days or weeks after the crash. Hidden injuries may manifest as:
- Headaches: Headaches may indicate head/neck injury, a hematoma (blood clot), or a concussion that can prove fatal if ignored.
- Shoulder or neck stiffness/pain: Pain in these areas may manifest after a few days in whiplash victims.
- Numbness: You may be experiencing the aftereffects of spine or neck damage if you lose sensation in your arms and/or hands.
- Back pain: Other than whiplash, upper, mid and lower back pain may also be a sign of injuries to your ligaments, vertebrae, nerves or muscles.
- Abdominal pain: In a vehicle accident, it is common to sustain bruises from the seatbelt. However, if they are persistent and large or if you feel other pain in the area, you may have internal bleeding and require immediate medical attention.
- Changes in thinking or personality: Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, are common in car collisions. It is hard to miss more serious injuries, which often cause unconsciousness. But concussions can lead to minor brain damage that manifests in strange ways.
- Difficulty in coordination and movement: Concussions may impact how your brain transmits signals to the rest of your body.
- Flashbacks or nightmares: After stressful situations such as vehicle accidents, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common condition. It can impact your ability to think about or engage in things you associate with the accident.
How long after a vehicle crash can injuries show up?
Delayed onset of symptoms depends on the type of injury you sustained and the circumstances of the crash. Researchers have not identified any specific reason why some vehicle accident victims present symptoms at the time of the incident.
In contrast, others do not develop them until days or weeks later. This phenomenon is relatively unknown, and doctors rely on case studies to understand variability among patients. They have identified the following:
- Internal bleeding or bruising (“seatbelt syndrome”) may develop between 24 hours and three days (72 hours) after a crash
- Neck and brain injuries have developed up to eight days after an accident as well as proved fatal in some cases
- Symptoms of concussions may not manifest for hours or days after a wreck
- Chronic Widespread Pain (CWP) typically presents immediately, but victims may experience spreading or worsening pain through the initial year after the accident
In a majority of cases, soft tissues – such as ligaments, muscles and discs – sustain injuries. These injuries cannot be viewed on standard X-rays. To diagnose this damage, specialized imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scans, may be necessary.
Do not accept the first settlement offer you receive from an insurer – Consult an attorney first.
It is certainly tempting to assume that the liable party’s insurance provider is working rapidly as they care about you. But they are actually just looking after their own interests. They want to finalize settlements before symptoms of delayed injuries show up and alert vehicle accident victims of other injuries an insurance plan should cover.
If you agree to settle for the first amount they offer, you may not collect adequate money to address your immediate medical expenses, not to mention those that could show up in a few days or weeks. Our vehicle accident lawyers at The Masters Law Firm, L.C. in West Virginia have been helping personal injury victims collect full and fair compensation in these cases for several decades.
At the outset of a new case, our experienced lawyers will sit down with the crash victim to understand exactly what transpired and will build a strong legal strategy based on evidence. Delayed injuries could put you in a financial bind. Speak to our skilled and knowledgeable auto accident lawyers today. For a free, no-obligation case review, call today at 304-342-3106.