Dealing with Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident
We have all witnessed that horrible scene on the side of the road—an ambulance pulling over to where a car crash has just happened. While injuries such as a broken leg or massive bleeding obviously warrant a trip to the hospital, it may be less clear about what to do when injuries are minor or nonexistent. Many people involved in car accidents have non-fatal injuries or even minor injuries. Some of those people may experience zero pain immediately following a car accident. Just because you have minor or no pain, however, does not mean that you will not experience any pain. You may experience delayed pain. Delayed pain following a car accident is pain that occurs 24-48 hours—or more—following a car accident. Pain that is delayed can be just as serious as pain that is immediate.
Why Am I Not Immediately in Pain?
There are many reasons why pain can be delayed.
Adrenaline comes from a fight-or-flight response. It will shift blood flow from organs to muscles, which can make you feel stronger. The adrenaline that comes from being in a car crash can mask the pain. Athletes have been known to play through major injuries due to adrenaline, so the effects of adrenaline cannot be understated. Those injuries also simply may not have time to manifest.
Shock is a psychological effect that also has physical results. Mentally, a person in shock experiences a disconnect from a bad situation. Physically, that person has a sudden drop in blood pressure. That blood flow is directed to crucial organs and diverted from less-crucial areas such as your hands. This strange physical and psychological phenomenon can cause someone to not realize how severe an injury is.
What Should I Do If I Am In Pain?
Ideally, you should visit a doctor immediately after a car accident—regardless of pain level—just to be checked out. A doctor’s examination is sometimes the only way to properly identify whether you are experiencing pain from the accident, provide a diagnosis, and suggest appropriate treatment for the pain.
Not seeking medical attention immediately can have devastating consequences—both physical and financial. Most importantly, your health can be impacted, sometimes permanently. Treating an injury right away can prevent that injury from morphing into a larger problem. Get treatment immediately and follow everything the doctor says.
The other consequence of not getting immediate medical attention is that it can cause a person not to recover from a claim or hurts their personal injury lawsuit. If you do not get treatment, it might signal that the injury was not severe or potentially not related to the accident. Neither looks good when an insurance adjuster is deciding what to do with your claim.
Types of Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident
While this is not an exhaustive list of the types of injuries you may feel after a crash, these are some of the most common complaints. What these injuries all have in common is that they can feel quite mild and/or be mistaken for something else. Bottom line: get to a doctor immediately even if symptoms are mild because it could be symptomatic of a larger, life-threatening medical problem.
Numbness and/or Tingling
This can often be the first sign of whiplash, despite being somewhat subtle. You may experience a feeling such as pins and needles in your extremities. For instance, your fingers may feel like you have slightly less feeling in them, which would indicate nerve damage. Or, your legs could have a feeling similar to when they “fall asleep” after they have been in an awkward position. Despite this feeling not being as intense as a stabbing pain, it should not be ignored. The pain likely stems from nerve damage surrounding your spine. It should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. It may require you to seek attention from a physical therapist or a chiropractor.
In a car accident—particularly when a vehicle is rear-ended—the head can be forced forward and then backward. This can result in neck pain. Those with neck pain can experience anything from stiffness, soreness, swelling, pain, limited range of motion, headaches, and blurred vision. Whiplash is the most common neck injury resulting from a car accident.
Back pain is also fairly typical after a car accident; the price of avoiding it, however, can be decreased mobility for life. Even minor car accidents can cause spinal injury, herniated disc, sprain of soft tissue in the back, or whiplash. The impact of the crash could also cause the spine to become misaligned or force vertebrae out of place. As a result, this can pressure or pinch the nerves, leading to numbness and tingling. This can cause anything from slight back pain to completely debilitating back pain.
It is very common for someone to have a headache after a car accident, even if it is a minor one. If you experience a headache following a crash, do not just take a painkiller and dismiss it. A headache following a car crash could signal that something serious has happened—such as a concussion, head injury, brain injury, neck injury, or even a blood clot in the brain. Head injuries are especially worrisome, as it can cause traumatic injury. Seek medical attention immediately in the instance of a headache.
If your abdomen hurts following a crash, it could be indicative of internal bleeding. While internal bleeding can cause loss of life, it can be so subtle that the person may not become aware of it for hours or days. This is why it is important to seek medical attention immediately so that a doctor can rule this out. Some symptoms of abdominal pain include dizzy spells, fainting, or purple bruising.
This may be more easily recognized by others rather than by yourself. Someone could notice that you are experiencing memory problems or that you just seem “off.” Do not just attribute this to anxiety from the car crash; it could be symptomatic of a brain injury. Brain injuries are the third-leading injuries resulting from car accidents. Other signs of a brain injury may be things such as personality changes, vision issues, hearing problems, or depression.
Get the Help You Need From a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney in Peoria Today
We know that injuries can rear their ugly heads at any given moment — some sooner rather than later. If you have been involved in an accident and believe you have sustained injuries, get the help you need right away. Contact our office to discuss how we can assist.