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What If I Suffered a Delayed Injury After a Car Accident?

Some of the most common injuries associated with car accidents include whiplash, cuts and lacerations and broken bones. If the accident is particularly serious, a driver or passenger may suffer spinal cord injuries, organ damage or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Oftentimes, car accident survivors experience symptoms of the injury immediately upon impact. However, they do not always experience symptoms of an injury right away, particularly when the shock of the accident causes the body to release a surge of adrenaline, which can mask pain and other common symptoms. Other injuries simply may not appear until days or weeks after the accident. Unfortunately, that means that the injured person may not seek immediate medical attention following the accident, which can have a negative impact on the outcome of a personal injury claim. If you suffered a delayed injury in a car accident, a dedicated car accident lawyer will assist you with the claims process and ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve.

What Are Examples of Delayed Car Accident Injuries?

If you suffered an obvious injury in a car accident, you would likely seek immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency room. However, when symptoms of an injury do not appear right away, you may assume that you did not suffer any injuries, or that the injury does not warrant seeking medical attention. While not every car accident will require you to be examined by a medical professional, it is in your best interest to do so, since a healthcare professional will be able to diagnose an injury that may not be obvious at the time of the accident. The following are examples of common delayed injuries that are caused by car accidents:

  • Whiplash: This is one of the most common car accident injuries, which occurs when the impact of the collision forces the neck and head to move forward/backwards/side to side suddenly and forcefully. This can affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons, facet joints and nerves in the neck. Oftentimes, symptoms of whiplash do not appear until between 24 hours and eight days following the accident.
  • Soft tissue injuries: These include sprains, which are tears in ligaments, and strains, which are tears in muscles and tendons. The body’s inflammatory response can mask the pain and other symptoms associated with these injuries.
  • Back and spinal injuries: These injuries are associated with a range of symptoms, some of which may appear immediately following the accident, and some which may not become obvious until days or weeks later. If a spinal injury is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause chronic pain, numbness, muscle spasms, and in extreme cases, paralysis.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): These are potentially serious injuries that occur when the impact of the accident causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. Symptoms are not always obvious immediately following the accident, but can include headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and emotional changes. If left untreated, a TBI can cause bleeding inside the brain, permanent brain damage or a fatal blood clot.
  • Concussions: This is a mild form of a TBI. Concussions occur when one’s head strikes the steering wheel or the airbag upon impact. Symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion, do not always appear right away.

What Are Common Symptoms of Delayed Injuries?

If you are unsure about whether to seek medical attention after a car accident, it is always a good idea to be examined by a healthcare professional who can discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing and make an accurate and timely diagnosis. The following symptoms may suggest that you have one of the delayed injuries discussed above:

  • Behavioral changes: The trauma of a car accident can cause behavioral changes ranging from anxiety and depression to severe mood swings and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Tingling or numbness: These may be symptoms of nerve damage, a pinched nerve or more serious damage to the neck or spine.
  • Back pain: Lower back pain may be a symptom of a herniated disc or damaged intervertebral discs in your spine. Pain in the middle and upper back suggest that you have a whiplash injury, or a more serious spinal cord injury.
  • Shoulder or neck pain: Oftentimes, this is caused by delayed whiplash injury symptoms.
  • Dizziness: This can be a symptom of a concussion, a TBI or some other type of head injury.
  • Headaches: This is a very common side effect of a car accident injury and may be a symptom of a more serious injury like a concussion or a TBI.
  • Stomach pain: Bruising from the seat belt and other impact-related injuries can cause abdominal pain. However, if the bruise becomes larger, and the pain continues, it may be a sign of internal bleeding or serious organ damage.
  • Problems with speech, concentration or focusing: This may be a symptom of a serious brain injury.

What Causes Delayed Symptoms After a Car Accident?

The trauma and suddenness of a car accident causes the body to respond in a way that protects itself from the physical pain of an injury. The following are examples of factors that can cause the body to either mask or delay the pain associated with an injury:

  • Shock: This is the body’s natural response to trauma. There is a sudden drop in blood pressure, the blood vessels in the hands and feet send blood to your vital organs. Psychologically, it can cause you to disconnect from the situation.
  • Adrenaline: Also known as the “fight or flight” chemical, this sends the body into self-preservation mode. Adrenaline sends blood to your organs and muscles, which can cause you to feel stronger and less likely to experience pain. The body’s adrenaline levels will return to normal within a few hours or up to a day.
  • Inflammation: This also causes increased blood flow to an injury. Once the effects of the shock and adrenaline wear off, the body responds to the physical damage by creating inflammation at the injury site. This may include redness, warmth or swelling. As the inflammation increases in the hours or days following the accident, you may experience increased pain.

If you suffered a delayed injury in a car accident, and you wish to file a personal injury claim, it is important to understand that insurance companies are in the business of making money and will look for any reason to avoid having to pay you a large settlement. For example, if you did not seek immediate medical attention for an injury that did not appear until later, they may argue that the injury must not be very serious, or that it was not actually caused by the accident. An experienced car accident lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Dayton Car Accident Lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC Represent Those Inflicted with Delayed Car Accident Injuries

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, and symptoms of your injury did not appear until days later, you are urged to contact the Dayton car accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and pursue the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 937-222-7477 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Dayton, Ohio, where we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.