With many car accidents, injuries are obvious. Ambulances are dispatched, victims are taken to hospitals, injuries are treated. Patients go home with stitches for their cuts and lacerations, casts for broken bones, or treatment plans for concussions. However, for other people involved in car crashes, they may feel fine at the scene of the accident, only to wake up a few days later with severe injuries – injuries that may ultimately prove fatal. Why does this happen and how can you ensure it doesn’t happen to you or a loved one?
First, let’s talk about the reasons why symptoms of injuries from a car accident might not show up right away. The primary reason is adrenaline. When we’re in danger, our bodies release adrenaline as our “fight or flight” instinct kicks in. Although many people believe that adrenaline prevents us from feeling pain, it’s actually the “adrenaline rush” that distracts us from the pain rather than masking it. Once that adrenaline wears off, which could take anywhere from a few hours to a several days, that pain makes itself known.
Another reason you might feel just fine – even when you’re not – after a car accident is shock. Shock is a natural response to trauma, which can happen during a car crash. Per Healthline, “Your body experiences shock when you don’t have enough blood circulating through your system to keep organs and tissues functioning properly.” Shock moves the blood to your vital organs and away from your arms and legs, which can cause them to lose sensation. Once the shock wears off, you may notice the pain.
Swelling is yet another reason you may not realize an injury is worse than it initially seems. Although swelling is indeed the sign of an injury, it can also mask another, potentially worse, injury. For example, what may present as a sprained ankle may actually be a broken bone, which can be exacerbated when not treated immediately.
Common car accident injuries with delayed symptoms
Although it may be tempting after an accident to want to wrap everything up with the insurance company right away, take the time to ensure you understand the scope of your injuries. There are certain types of injuries and harm resulting from a car crash that generally take a little longer to symptomize, and these include:
- Brain injuries. Symptoms of moderate traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), like concussions, often aren’t immediately noticeable. In fact, a 2020 study of student athletes showed that one-quarter experienced a delayed onset of concussion symptoms. Brain injuries can be permanent if left untreated, so it’s vital to seek treatment immediately after any blow to the head.
- Whiplash. Whiplash is a soft tissue injury in the neck that often doesn’t show up until a few days later, but when it does, it causes a great amount of pain and immobility. The Cleveland Clinic reports that up to 50% of whiplash patients still have “persistent neck pain” even a year later.
- Internal bleeding. This is one of the most serious injuries from a car accident, and can be fatal if it goes unnoticed. Internal bleeding can result from blunt force trauma, broken bones, or something called “deceleration trauma,” which can cause a rapid shift of the internal organs. These injuries can go undetected for hours or days.
- Back injuries. There are many types of back and spinal injuries that can result from a car crash, and they all present differently. Some may show up immediately, but others may feel minor at first and progressively worsen over time. Any back pain should be taken and treated seriously in an attempt to prevent it from becoming a chronic issue.
- Blood clots. Often formed as a result of blunt force trauma, blood clots can also take time to present after a car accident. A blood clot on its own isn’t particularly dangerous, but it can be fatal if it breaks away and travels to the lungs or brain. Some people wave away a life-threatening blood clot as muscle soreness from the accident, which can be a fatal mistake.
- Psychological injuries. Emotional injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression may also take quite some time to manifest. PTSD is common in individuals who have survived a frightening or disturbing event, and those feelings can last for months or years. Even if you don’t have physical injuries, you may later experience intrusive thoughts, anxiety, nightmares, or avoidance.
All of the above are great reasons why you and the people you care about must get proper and timely medical attention after a car accident – we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – even if you think you’re fine.
Delayed onset injuries and your Minot car accident claim
When you’re seeking financial compensation for your injuries and losses from a car crash, you want to ensure that compensation accounts for the full scope of your injuries, because you can’t go back and ask for more. You and your attorney would never accept a settlement for a twisted ankle if you actually had a broken leg, right?
This is why we advise:
- Visiting the emergency room or your doctor as soon as possible after the accident
- Following treatment plans and medications to the letter
- Saving copies of all your medical documents
- Consulting with an attorney before signing any agreement with the insurance company
The legal team at Larson Law Firm, PC can get started on your case while you take the time you need to rest and recover from your injuries. We will never rush you into a settlement or negotiations while you are still unsure of the severity of your injuries or your future expenses. Let us work to secure the compensation you need. To schedule a consultation with an experienced Minot car accident attorney today, call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve Bismarck, Minot, and Fargo.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson