Car accidents are nearly always traumatic events, whether they’re “just” fender-benders or they are serious, destructive collisions. Whether your vehicle collides with something, or is hit by something, there will be a lot of force involved. This means injuries can occur even in car accidents that seem minor.
For a number of reasons, many people who are involved in minor accidents do not experience any symptoms of injury right away. However, it’s important to continue monitoring your condition after a car accident and watch for the delayed onset of symptoms — in the interests of both your physical health and your legal rights.
How can injury symptoms be delayed?
In addition to physical damage, car accidents cause physiological changes in your body that can serve to mask the symptoms of injuries.
Being involved in a car accident is a high-stress event. In response to this kind of stress, your body generates endorphins and adrenaline — two chemicals that “super-charge” you in order to give you enough energy to get through the stressful situation. These chemicals can also temporarily block the sensation of pain.
Once the adrenaline and endorphins begin to subside, you may begin to experience symptoms of injuries you weren’t aware you had incurred. Symptoms, including pain, may take days or even weeks after a car accident to show up.
Common delayed car accident injuries
A concussion is a common injury that occurs in car accidents and the symptoms are not usually apparent right away. Symptoms of a concussion may also be subtle and easy to miss.
Some of the symptoms of a possible concussion include:
- Headaches, blurred vision, nausea or dizziness
- Trouble concentrating or clouded thinking
- Difficulty in remembering new information
- Abnormal sleeping patterns (more or less than usual)
- A lack of energy
Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash (a neck muscle injury caused by sudden, forceful back-and-forth head movement) are also common in car accidents. These are injuries to parts of your body other than bone, such as muscles, tendons or ligaments. Soft tissue injuries are frequently caused by the tremendous amounts of force generated during collisions.
These types of injuries usually result in pain and swelling along with reduced mobility. The symptoms of soft tissue injuries may not show up right away and the damage is not visible in X-rays, meaning they can be difficult to diagnose.
Protecting yourself against delayed car accident injuries
The first thing you should do after a car accident is seek medical attention if you feel any pain or discomfort, or even if you feel completely fine. A doctor will be able to let you know what kind of warning signs you should watch for with regard to potential injuries. It’s also critical to be able to document your medical treatment following a car accident for injury claim purposes.
Additionally, you should not settle an insurance claim or other type of accident injury claim right away after a car accident. You may be offered a settlement by the at-fault party’s insurance company in return for signing a release, but if you have delayed damage, you won’t be able to have further medical expenses covered after signing.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, or you just want to make sure there are no problems with your injury claim, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced attorney following an accident. The Miami trial lawyers at Baron & Herskowitz have successfully represented many clients in all types of car accident cases, including insurance settlements and lawsuits. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case.