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Can Car Accident Injuries Be Delayed?



Not all injuries from a vehicle collision are immediately visible. In fact, some can take weeks to manifest symptoms. As a result, you may discover a severe injury despite feeling fine in the immediate aftermath. It’s essential to know the most common delayed car accident injuries and their symptoms so you can seek the necessary medical attention.

What Are the Most Common Injuries With Delayed Symptoms?

Lacerations and broken bones are often immediately identifiable due to the pain and visual clues. However, certain injuries may have delayed symptoms due to the nature of the affected body part. For instance, musculoskeletal issues usually don’t hurt until the area swells, which can take several days.

Evolution has also contributed to delayed pain. In situations of extreme stress, endorphins and adrenaline flood the human body. These have several physiological effects:

The result is a heightened awareness, allowing us to act quickly in life-threatening situations. While useful in the moment, these traits mask the effects of injury, so we may not realize something is wrong until our neurotransmitters return to normal levels.

A startling number of common car accident injuries don’t become evident for some time after the incident. Unfortunately, waiting for symptoms to pass can delay treatment until too late. If you’ve been in a collision, look out for signs of the following injuries.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are some of the most devastating due to their wide-ranging and long-term effects. There are many types of brain injuries, but they all have one thing in common: They result in brain damage. Because the brain controls our emotions, ability to reason and personality, a TBI can leave someone disabled for life.

TBIs occur due to one or a combination of the following:

The initial damage can be dangerous, but they’re not the only concern. Lacerations can cause bleeding, which can further damage brain tissue. Blunt force can make the brain swell, causing pressure to build the skull.

TBIs are so dangerous that medical professionals recommend testing for them immediately after a car accident. Failure to get timely care can result in the following:

The good news is that TBIs have a variety of visible symptoms that typically appear within 24 hours. Depending on the severity of the collision, your doctors may want you under observation so they can keep an eye out for the following:

Concussions are one of the mildest forms of TBI, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. Patients can heal from concussions, a process that can take up to a few months, with complete physical and mental rest. During recovery, there’s a risk of reinjury, which can result in long-term damage.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues include the following:

You can sustain soft tissue injuries from even minor accidents due to the physics involved. For example, if you run into the car in front of you, your vehicle will come to a sudden stop. However, your body will continue at the previous velocity until your seatbelt stops your momentum. These movements put your soft tissues under immense pressure, resulting in tears or over-stretching.

The most common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. Sprains affect ligaments, while strains affect tendons and muscles. Both involve stretching the soft tissue beyond its natural limit.

Since X-rays penetrate soft tissue, doctors order MRIs to confirm these types of injuries. Treatment is relatively straightforward for minor damage:

These steps decrease inflammation, which often accompanies strains and sprains. Other symptoms include:

Whiplash is a fairly common soft tissue injury from vehicle collisions that affects the neck muscles, tendons, nerves and discs. If you have whiplash, your doctor may recommend wearing a neck brace to limit movement and avoid reinjury.

Mental Health Issues

Not all injuries are physical. Car crashes can be traumatic, even if you walk away without a scratch. Individuals involved in an accident can experience any or all of the following:

There are many misconceptions about depression, particularly that people struggling with this mental health condition aren’t trying hard enough or can “decide” to be happy. Depression is more than sadness — it’s a brain-chemical imbalance that typically requires therapy and medication to manage.

In some instances, such as grieving the loss of a loved one, depression is natural and temporary. However, TBIs can cause chronic depression due to brain damage. Individuals may experience a combination of emotional and physiological causes which require medical care. The following are the most common signs of depression:

Anxiety is another common mental health condition after an auto accident. Individuals may feel anxious when faced with situations connected to the accident (riding in a car, driving past the crash site, etc.) or a general sense of anxiety. A certain amount of anxiety is natural after a traumatic event, but when it begins to interfere with daily life, it becomes a health issue. The following are signs you should seek treatment for your anxious thoughts:

You may also experience moments of rapid, shallow breathing, increased heart rate and dizziness. These are panic attacks, and while not all individuals with anxiety have them, they are fairly common.

Finally, individuals may experience PTSD after a car accident. Individuals with PTSD often relive the traumatic experience in nightmares and flashbacks. They may also struggle with anxiety, depression and substance use.

Internal Bleeding

A crash’s force of impact may do internal damage with limited visible symptoms. Getting hit with debris, slamming into the steering wheel or striking the airbag can cause enough force to tear connective tissues or rupture organs, resulting in internal bleeding. Even seatbelts can cause this damage due to their tightening design.

Internal bleeding is a serious condition that can lead to death if left untreated. The most severe cases require surgery to drain pooled blood and repair damaged organs. 

Internal damage also puts individuals at risk of blood clots. The human body forms clots in response to blood vessel damage; these clots naturally stop the bleeding, giving the body a chance to repair itself. However, clots that form deep in your legs pose another danger.

These clots can break away from the damaged site and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. There, they can block arteries, which can be deadly without medical attention. The most common symptoms of pulmonary embolism are as follows:

Where Can You Find an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer?

If you sustained an injury from a car accident, you can seek compensation. The attorneys at Big Auto have extensive experience fighting for clients. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call 1-888-244-2886.