After a car accident, those who are able to walk away and only need minor treatment often consider themselves lucky. With the wide range of catastrophic injuries high-speed collisions can cause, walking away with a few scrapes and bruises is as good an outcome as most people can hope for.
However, just because you feel okay as you exchange information with the other driver, speak with the police, and take other important steps to protect yourself after an accident, that doesn’t mean you aren’t injured. There’s a reason we always recommend seeing a doctor after an accident, and that’s because they can test for injuries that might not register right away. Especially when you’re stressed, as most people are after an accident, your brain may block or ignore pain signals so you can focus on keeping yourself safe.
What to Do if You Develop Pain Hours or Days After an Accident
Especially if you’ve already visited the doctor and given a clean bill of health, you may be tempted to just ignore a new ache or pain. After all, it will probably pass…right?
That may not be the case. Even if you were driving slowly at the time of the accident, it’s still possible you sustained serious injuries that need medical attention. Symptoms that seem minor could be indicative of a deeper problem.
Symptoms to Look For
Whiplash is an extremely common injury suffered by car crash victims, but it’s not the only one that can hide itself for a few days or even a few weeks after the incident. The following symptoms can denote an unknown injury:
- Headache: May signal neck/head injury, concussion, or a hematoma (blood clot) that can be deadly if ignored
- Neck or Shoulder Pain/Stiffness: May show up after a few days in whiplash victims
- Numbness: If you lose feeling in your arms and/or hands, you may be experiencing the aftereffects of neck/spine damage
- Back Pain: Also a sign of whiplash, upper-, mid-, and lower-back pain might be caused by injuries to your muscles, ligaments, nerves, or vertebrae
- Abdominal Pain: Bruises from the seatbelt are common, but if they are large and persistent or if you feel other pain in the area, you may have incurred internal bleeding and be in need of emergency treatment
- Changes in Thinking or Personality: Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries are common in car accidents. Though it’s hard to miss more severe injuries, which typically result in unconsciousness, concussions may cause minor brain damage that shows up in strange ways
- Difficulty with Movement and Coordination: Concussions may also affect the way your brain translates signals to the rest of your body
- Flashbacks and/or Nightmares: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common after upsetting situations like car accidents and can affect your ability to engage in or think about things you associate with the incident
How Long After a Car Accident Can Injures Show Up?
The delay in the onset of your symptoms can vary according to the type of injury you sustained and the circumstances of the accident. Researchers are not sure why some car accident victims present symptoms at the time of the crash, but others do not develop them until later. As this is a relatively untaught phenomenon, doctors rely on case studies to determine variability among patients. They have found:
- Internal bleeding/bruising (“seatbelt syndrome”) has been noticed between 24 hours and 3 days (72 hours) after an accident.
- Brain and neck injuries have emerged up to 8 days after an accident and, in some cases, proved fatal.
- Concussion symptoms may not show up for hours or days after an accident.
- Chronic Widespread Pain (CWP) often presents immediately, but patients may suffer worsening or spreading pain through the first year after the accident.
Don’t Accept an Insurer’s First Settlement Offer—Talk to a Lawyer First
Though it’s tempting to think the at-fault party’s insurance is working so quickly because they care about you, they’re actually just looking out for themselves. They like to finalize settlements before delayed symptoms can show up and alert car accident victims of other injuries an insurance payment should cover. If you say “yes” to the first amount they offer, you may not receive enough money to treat your immediate medical needs, much less those that could appear down the road.
Our car accident attorneys have been helping Sacramento injury victims for over 20 years. At the beginning of each new case, we sit down with the accident victim to learn exactly what happened so we can build an argument that addresses all of their needs. Don’t let delayed injuries put you in a financial bind.
Call our experienced team for a free consultation at (916) 471-6098 or contact us online.