A car accident can be both physically and emotionally devastating. Depending on the type and severity of the accident, your injuries can be either readily apparent or may show up later. Sometimes, both scenarios will occur.
The body has unique processes that take place after an accident to help protect the person from pain. A medical professional may not order immediate tests or imaging to discover a wound that is not obvious.
After any type of car accident, you should seek medical care because a severe injury may not show up until later. The following are some of the reasons why a car accident injury may not present itself right away.
Release of Pain-Masking Hormones
During a car accident, the body releases adrenaline and cortisol to help protect the person from pain and psychological trauma. When this happens, a person may claim they have not been injured at all.
Glucose levels also increase after trauma to compensate for the injury. Once these increased hormones and glucose levels stabilize, you may then begin feeling pain and have swelling or other injury indicators.
Wounds May Not be Discovered Right Away
Some brain injuries and damage to internal organs cannot be assessed without diagnostic imaging. If a person does not present with or complain of specific symptoms, a medical professional may not order diagnostics from the start. They will tend to open wounds and other apparent injuries first. If the body is masking pain or symptoms at first, damage may not be discovered until later.
An injury to one part or organ of the body may show up as pain elsewhere, which is known as referred pain. For example, a brain injury may first present as neck or spine pain, or internal organ damage will show up as a stomachache or other less serious problems.
Often, it takes time for an injury to show up. This is often the case when an injury causes swelling that gets so bad that it begins pressing on a nerve or other body part, causing noticeable pain.
What Symptoms Should I Look for After an Accident?
Symptoms can arise immediately after an accident, or they can appear hours, days, weeks, or months later. That is why you should always be vigilant about any new symptoms, even if they do not appear to be related to the accident. Always seek medical attention when new pain or symptoms come up. You should be concerned about an injury when you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal or organ pain: Damage to organs and internal bleeding may take a while to show up. Be on the lookout for bruising, swelling, stomach or abdominal pain, tenderness, nausea, malaise, and weakness.
- Excessive fatigue: The body will automatically help itself heal through rest and sleep after the initial stress and shock of an accident. Excessive sleeping, difficulty being woken, and overwhelming fatigue can signal other problems that need to be checked out by a medical professional.
- Cognitive changes: Some head or brain injuries may not show up immediately or worsen over time. Anytime cognitive processes are affected, a person should seek diagnostic testing. Be aware of personality changes, trouble concentrating and processing information, memory loss, and speech and language impairments.
- Tingling and numbness: Nerve damage or even a brain injury can cause tingling and numbness. Sometimes, these sensations do not show up until enough internal swelling has occurred. Do not ignore them, whether they happen immediately or after an accident.
- Delayed back or neck pain: Soft tissue injuries can arise well after an accident. Get any pain, swelling, or restricted movement diagnosed by a medical professional. Be sure to tell them about the accident. That can help them with diagnosis and treatment.
- Nausea, vomiting, and headache: If any of these occur immediately or hours or days after a car accident, there is cause for concern. A blood clot could have formed, or brain swelling may have developed. Seek medical attention immediately.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Emotional or psychological injuries are just as real and serious as physical injuries. It is not uncommon for someone to start showing signs of PTSD months after an accident. They must be checked out by a licensed professional.
What are Common Car Accident Injuries?
- Head injuries: In a car accident, an occupant can strike their head against the steering wheel, window, dashboard, pavement, or other objects, especially if they are thrown from the vehicle. Injuries can range from mild concussions, contusions, and abrasions to traumatic brain injuries, coma, skull fracture, and vision and hearing loss.
- Back injuries: Hitting hard stationary objects inside and outside the car can seriously injure the back and spinal cord, resulting in partial or total paralysis. Doing so can also damage muscles, nerves, and discs.
- Broken bones: Broken bones are very common in car accidents. The legs, arms, shoulders, ankles, and feet are especially vulnerable.
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament damage: These soft tissue injuries can severely limit a person’s ability to function. A soft tissue injury may require surgery and even physical therapy.
- Neck injuries: Any impact that causes the neck to move suddenly or forcefully can cause damage, including whiplash, ligament and muscle damage, and harm to the throat and vocal cords.
- Chest injuries: The force of an accident can cause passengers or drivers to hit the steering wheel, dashboard, or seat in front of them. Injuries from this blunt force trauma include broken ribs, collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, cardiac arrest, and other chest problems.
- Organ damage: Blunt force trauma can also cause organ injuries, including internal bleeding and organ or stomach lacerations, tears, and ruptures.
- Burns: Fires are relatively common in accidents. A person may suffer severe burns and scarring.
Will Insurance Cover Delayed Car Accident Injuries?
It may be more challenging to prove a delayed injury after an accident. That is why it is important to never accept a quick settlement offer made by an insurance company. Insurance companies are not in the business of making sure all of your expenses are covered. They are in the business of making a profit, so they will try to minimize their payouts. You should get medical attention immediately after a car accident. Then, you should contact a lawyer who can advise on your legal options.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Help Clients Who Have Delayed Car Accident Injuries
You should be concerned about any car accident injury, which is why it is vital to get medical care immediately after a collision. If you were recently involved in a collision, speak with one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we understand that some car accident injuries show up later, and we can help you explore your legal options. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.