A car accident is a traumatic and stressful event that can affect you mentally and physically. Immediately after a car accident, you may be shocked and disoriented.
Some injuries are obvious, but others can have delayed symptoms. You may walk away from an accident without realizing the car accident injuries you actually sustained.
If you are wondering how long after a car accident can injuries appear, we have the answers.
Here is a guide to delayed injury symptoms following a car crash.
How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?
You can be involved in a car wreck and not realize the extent of your injuries. Accident victims may not feel pain right after an accident. They may choose to go home rather than get medical attention.
Some injury symptoms may not appear for hours, days, or even weeks after a crash. During a crash, the human body experiences a surge of endorphins and adrenaline.
These chemicals can mask the pain after a car accident. As these hormones dissipate in the days after a crash, you may begin to feel the full effects of the injuries.
Even if you feel no pain after an accident, you should still seek medical treatment. If the doctor sees no sign of injury, monitor yourself over the next few weeks for any problems.
Be sure to contact your doctor if you begin to experience pain or any delayed injury symptoms.
Common Delayed Injuries
Car accidents can lead to many types of injuries. Some of these are immediately noticeable, but others may present in the days or weeks following a crash. Some injuries that can have a delayed onset include:
Neck Injuries and Whiplash
Whiplash is a common car accident injury. It’s a painful condition that occurs when your head moves or jerks back and forth due to a crash impact.
Whiplash affects the soft tissues, tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the neck. The condition is not always evident immediately after an accident.
You may begin feeling the symptoms of whiplash hours or days after an accident. Some common symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Restricted range of motion
- Shoulder pain
- Tingling or numbness
The delayed onset of whiplash does not indicate a minor injury. The underlying damage from whiplash can be significant. Be sure to get a medical evaluation if you have any symptoms of whiplash or delayed car accident pain.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Car accidents can result in a traumatic brain injury. There may be immediate evidence of a brain injury after an accident or the symptoms may be delayed.
Brain injuries can occur when the brain experiences trauma from a sudden impact, such as hitting the dashboard, steering wheel, or window during a car accident.
TBIs can be caused by the brain hitting the skull. You don’t have to hit your head to suffer a TBI.
The symptoms of TBI vary depending on the extent of the injury. Symptoms may include:
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in mood or behavior
Delayed symptoms of a TBI may be subtle and attributed to other factors. You may not realize you have a cognitive deficit until you attempt to complete a certain task and are unable to accomplish it.
After a car accident, you should seek medical treatment. It is important for accident victims to be monitored for any cognitive or physical changes for a few weeks after an accident occurs.
If you notice any changes or unusual symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Car accidents frequently lead to soft tissue injuries of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles throughout the body. Soft tissue injuries may include muscle strains, sprains, and tears.
These types of injuries may appear immediately following a car accident, but they can be delayed. Pain and swelling may develop over time.
Some delayed symptoms of soft tissue injuries include:
- Reduced range of motion
The time frame when symptoms may appear varies, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the specific injury. Delaying medical treatment could potentially worsen the problem, so it is a good idea to get medical attention immediately following an accident.
Getting the medical care you need is important for your health and for any potential legal action you may take down the road.
Internal Injuries and Inflammation
Car accidents can cause internal trauma that may go unrecognized immediately following an accident. Internal injuries are possible, including organ damage, bleeding, or fractures.
These injuries may not produce immediate symptoms, but over time, you may notice swelling, pain, tenderness, or other symptoms. Internal injuries can be life-threatening.
Inflammation is the body’s response to trauma and a defense mechanism to heal and protect injured tissues. It is critical to seek medical attention after an accident to rule out the possibility of internal injuries.
The spinal discs are made of a gel-like substance surrounded by a thicker layer to help cushion the spine. When a car accident occurs, this gel-like substance can be pushed through the outer layers of the spinal discs.
This is often called a slipped disc, although the disc has not slipped but has instead ruptured. A herniated disc presses on the nerves of the spine and can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness.
In the aftermath of an accident, neck and spine injuries are not always obvious. They often develop in the days to weeks after the accident.
Back injuries can be serious and lead to long-term pain and disability. If you are experiencing this type of pain after an accident, be sure to seek medical care and keep records of any tests or treatments you receive for your delayed injury symptoms.
Blood clots can occur after a car accident. Typically, blood clots dissipate on their own as the body heals. However, if a blood clot travels to the heart or brain, it can lead to severe injury or death.
Headaches, redness, warmth, or swelling can be signs of a blood clot. They can take days or weeks to develop.
A headache, along with signs of a concussion, can indicate a blood clot and needs immediate medical treatment.
Why Are Symptoms Sometimes Delayed With Car Accident Injuries?
Many car accident injuries have immediate symptoms like pain, bleeding, or blurred vision. That makes it easier to overlook injuries with delayed onset.
So, why are some car accident injuries delayed? The answer varies depending on the situation. Some possible explanations for delayed onset injuries include:
Adrenaline and Stress Response
When a traumatic event like a car accident occurs, the body releases adrenaline. This is a natural response that helps people cope with traumatic situations.
Adrenaline can mask the pain of an injury and other symptoms. This allows accident victims to focus on their immediate safety concerns.
As adrenaline wears off, the body begins to recover, and injury symptoms begin to surface. This may take a few hours to several days, depending on the person and the extent of their injuries.
You want to be mindful of this natural process and look for evidence of delayed pain after a car accident.
A car accident is a traumatic event that can shake you physically and mentally. Immediately after an accident, you may not realize how the experience will affect you psychologically.
Some psychological symptoms may be delayed, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, or phobias that develop related to driving or riding in a vehicle. The psychological impact of a car accident can be severe and affect your daily life and well-being.
Getting the support you need from a mental health professional can be instrumental in helping you recover from the trauma of an accident. Getting the appropriate medical care after a car accident is important to your overall health and your car accident claim.
If you have suffered a serious injury in a car accident, enlist the help of a car accident attorney. The attorney can help you understand your rights and secure the compensation you deserve.
Seek Medical Attention
If you have been involved in a car accident, it is in your best interest to seek medical attention, even if you feel fine. A medical evaluation can help detect possible hidden injuries and establish a medical record that links your symptoms to the accident.
This is important evidence for any future legal action. The longer you wait for a medical evaluation, the more likely the insurance company will try to minimize your physical or mental symptoms in an attempt to deny your claim.
Seek medical care after an accident and keep your follow-up appointments as recommended.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are traumatic experiences. Car accident injuries can be minor to severe and can affect every aspect of your life.
How long after a car accident can injuries appear? Some injuries are not noticeable right away, and the symptoms may develop days to weeks after a car accident.
Delayed injury symptoms can indicate medical issues like TBI, soft tissue injury, whiplash, PTSD, and more. Do not wait. Get medical treatment right away following a car accident.
At Preston, Wilson, & Crandley, PLC, we strive to give every client the personal attention they deserve. You can feel assured that we will work diligently to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.