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Delayed Injury Symptoms After a Car Accident

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Posted on December 14, 2023

When the dust settles on a traumatic accident scene, many victims believe their injuries are minor. In some cases, a fender-bender may leave just a few bruises and an expensive dent in a vehicle. But what if you’ve had a more serious accident but leave the scene believing your injuries are minor enough that you don’t need to go to a hospital, but develop symptoms later? Is it possible to be hurt after a car accident and not know it?

What Is a Delayed Injury?

During the trauma of a car accident, the body sustains significant force in the crash. Even if you’re securely belted and your car’s airbags deploy, the sudden jarring stop after hurtling along at high speed causes a jolt to all body systems. Because of the combination of physical and emotional trauma in a car accident, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol may temporarily mask a victim’s injury symptoms. Later, as the stress hormones ease away, masked injury symptoms may become much more obvious.

In other cases, injuries themselves worsen during the hours and days after the initial trauma occurs. Inflammation and internal bleeding can cause damage to the brain, thoracic cavity, back, neck, and limbs.

Even if you were lucky enough to walk away from a car accident, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t sustain injuries with delayed symptoms that reveal themselves later.

Symptoms of Delayed Accident Injuries

Symptoms of Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident

Trauma can occur in multiple body parts during an accident, including to the head, neck, back, torso, and limbs. It’s always best to have a complete medical evaluation after a car accident, but whether or not you have medical care immediately following the accident, in the hours and days that follow, it’s important to act quickly if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches, dizziness, and/or changes in vision
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Sleepiness
  • Restlessness and sleeplessness
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Nausea

If you develop any of the above symptoms, go to a hospital for an examination as soon as possible.

What to Do After a Car Accident

It’s natural to want to leave a traumatic accident scene as soon as possible to go home to the loving support of your family; however, it’s critical to your physical and financial health to take steps to protect yourself. After a car accident, never leave the scene until you’re cleared by law enforcement. After an accident, you should always do the following:

  • Call 911 to request an ambulance and report the accident to the police
  • While awaiting emergency services, use your phone—or ask an uninjured person to use it for you—to take photos of the damaged vehicles, the accident scene, and any visible injuries
  • Add the contact information of eyewitnesses as well as of any involved drivers
  • Go to a hospital either in the ambulance or through arranged transportation

At the hospital, it’s critical to tell the medical providers about all of your symptoms. Remember, even mild symptoms could worsen in the next hours or days. Ask for a full evaluation, and follow all of your doctor’s treatment recommendations carefully. Be sure to go back to the hospital if you develop any symptoms during the days after an accident.

Delayed symptoms can reveal serious or even catastrophic injuries, but sometimes it makes it difficult to recover damages due to the delay. The insurance company may argue that the injuries were not related to the accident if you’ve waited a significant period of time before seeking medical care. After you see your doctor, call a St. Louis car accident attorney to help you with your injury claim.