Each year, millions of injury accidents occur on U.S. roadways, and even a “minor” injury can result in profound physical pain, medical expenses, and lost wages.
Further, many people decline medical treatment at the accident scene because they don’t feel hurt, only to realize hours or even days later that they were injured after all with the onset of delayed symptoms.
If a car accident injured you, the physical symptoms you experience largely depend on the type of injury you sustained and how quickly you obtain medical treatment for those injuries. Here is a look at some common physical complaints people have after a car accident.
For answers to your medical questions, seek assistance from a doctor. For answers to legal questions about obtaining compensation for your injuries, speak with an experienced car accident attorney from Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel.
Common Physical Symptoms Experienced After a Car Accident
Around 3 million people suffer injuries in car accidents in the U.S. each year. Twenty-seven percent of all people involved in motor vehicle accidents will be injured. Not all crash injuries are equal, however.
While some individuals will walk away from an accident relatively unscathed, others will incur injuries that impact them for life. Two million drivers experience permanent injuries in crashes, including disabilities preventing them from earning an income or living independently.
A lot of crash victims are in the middle of the injury spectrum. They’re feeling physical pain, but they must recover fully from their injuries. Here is a look at some common physical symptoms experienced after a car accident.
#1. A Rush of Adrenaline
Adrenaline is a hormone naturally produced by the body in stressful situations. The body produces this hormone as a survival mechanism, preparing the body for fight or flight. When a car accident occurs, the body floods with a rush of adrenaline.
The initial symptom of adrenaline is a quickening heart rate, which pumps blood to the muscles. A drop in blood sugar can result in shakiness and weakness in the legs. Individuals often report feeling extremely alert in this state. Interestingly, adrenaline also can mask the pain of injuries for several hours, leaving people unable to determine at the scene whether they need medical evaluation.
It is generally encouraged to air on the side of caution and obtain a medical evaluation rather than risking additional damage created by failing to address serious injuries.
#2. Achiness in the Neck and Shoulders
Here are just a few reasons people commonly experience achiness in the neck and shoulders after a crash:
- Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash caused by the impact of the crash.
- Soreness at the place where the seatbelt’s shoulder harness pressed against your shoulder during the crash.
- Muscle aches caused by tensing and bracing for the impact.
While soreness in this area of the body is typical and even expected after a car accident, and symptoms generally subside with home care, it is worth obtaining a medical evaluation to ensure that the injury does not require a higher level of treatment.
Similar to soft tissue injuries, headaches after a car accident are common and can result from several sources, including:
- A concussion. As one of the two organs that make up your body’s central nervous system (along with the spinal cord), the brain controls all your body’s functions and involuntary responses. It also has only a limited ability to heal. Concussions can produce severe and permanent injury.
- Whiplash. While this is an injury to the neck’s soft tissues, headaches are one of the common symptoms of the injury.
- A blow to the head that doesn’t cause a concussion but still causes pain at the point of impact may also cause headaches. This could result from hitting your head on the windshield during the accident.
#4. Blurred Vision
Blurred vision is yet another common complaint after car accidents and is commonly caused by whiplash and traumatic brain injury. It also can be a symptom of a detached retina. This injury occurs when the tissue connected to the back of the eye moves, causing the eye not to receive the blood and oxygen it needs to function correctly.
If you experience blurred vision after an accident, have a medical evaluation to determine the cause of the symptom and obtain the proper treatment to alleviate it.
#5. Difficulties With Memory or Concentration
Difficulties with memory or concentration are a hallmark sign of a traumatic brain injury, and it can also have other potential causes, including post-traumatic amnesia or post-traumatic stress. In other words: physical injuries and psychological trauma may cause memory loss and difficulty concentrating, but treatments differ significantly. Again, obtain a diagnosis to address the issue.
What kind of injury causes drowsiness after a car accident? If you guessed a traumatic brain injury, you are correct. However, so does post-traumatic stress disorder and the after-effects of an adrenaline rush.
#7. Delayed Symptoms
Adrenaline can mask the pain of injuries, and some injuries can start small enough that the effects are hard to perceive and then worsen over time. If you experience new or worsening symptoms in the days following the car accident, you are encouraged to inform your doctor or seek treatment from the emergency room.
In addition to traumatic brain injuries, another type of injury that frequently presents with delayed symptoms is an injury to the internal organs. Internal injuries are dangerous because the person suffering from them often appears okay and exhibits symptoms that many other injuries can cause. These individuals may experience abdominal pain, nausea, pain in the arm or shoulder, cold and clammy skin, a rapid pulse, and even loss of consciousness.
Despite being hard to detect, internal injuries can permanently damage the impacted organ or cause life-threatening blood loss known as a hemorrhage.
What Happens if You Fail to Seek Prompt Medical Attention for Your Injuries?
Seeking prompt medical attention is generally the best course of action after a car accident to prevent undetected injuries from worsening due to lack of treatment. Additionally, if someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you will want to protect your right to seek compensation by having a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Delaying an evaluation by even a day can give the at-fault party’s insurance provider an opening to cast doubt that the accident injured you.
What Are Permanent Injuries? Are They the Same as Catastrophic Injuries?
Some physical damage is irreversible and can lead to long-lasting physical implications such as chronic pain or instability in the injured area or the need for additional treatment of the injury in the future. They can also have financial consequences as they can require the sufferer to seek an alternative, lower-paying job position to accommodate the injury. These are permanent injuries.
Catastrophic injuries are a type of permanent injury. Catastrophic injuries generally refer to damage to the brain or spinal cord. They produce permanent disabilities that will prevent the sufferer from earning an income or living independently. Other injuries can also be considered catastrophic, such as loss of vision, limb amputation, or severe injuries to the spinal vertebrae or discs.
Car Accident Injuries Can Have a Serious Impact on Your Life
Experiencing an injury in a car accident often results in more than just temporary physical impacts, and it also creates:
- Medical expenses related to your injuries, such as the cost of emergency treatment at the scene or in the emergency department, ambulance transport, diagnostic and laboratory testing, the services of physicians, surgeons, and nursing staff, prescription medication, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Wage loss due to taking time off work to recover or attend injury-related medical appointments.
- If your injury results in permanent deficits, the loss of your future earning capacity. Unfortunately, many individuals who can no longer work also lose access to medical benefits that can be a resource for paying for their treatment.
- The need to hire someone to perform household services that your injury prevents you from doing yourself.
- Changed relationships with family members as they may need to take on caregiving responsibilities during the recovery of serious injuries.
- Loss of the ability to participate in activities and hobbies you enjoyed before the accident.
Seeking Compensation for the Financial and Emotional Costs of Your Injury
The process of recovering compensation generally begins with a demand for the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy. The demand includes details of the accident, documentation of your injury, and a request for payment for the full value of the claim.
When the insurance provider has had the opportunity to review the claim, they can either choose to pay the claim as demanded, deny the claim, or make a reduced offer of compensation to settle the claim out of court. If the insurance provider offers a settlement that does not compensate for the injury, the claimant’s attorney can negotiate to obtain a higher offer.
If the insurance provider fails to fairly compensate you for the impacts and expenses of the injury, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Settlement negotiations can continue after you file a lawsuit and even after the case goes to trial.
What Is a Fair Settlement Offer?
About 95 percent of personal injury claims in the U.S. settle before the trial begins. There are many reasons for this, including the time and expense of litigation and the uncertainty of the outcome. A fair settlement offer is one that, at minimum, compensates you for medical expenses, wage loss, loss of earning capacity, property damage, and pain and suffering.
The settlement offer must fairly compensate you for these impacts. Once you enter into a settlement agreement and accept the compensation offered to you, the claim resolves. You have released the insurance provider from further claims against the at-fault party’s policy. This means that you cannot revisit the claim and ask for more money if what you received was not enough to cover your expenses.
Injured in a Car Accident? Call a Car Accident Lawyer Near You for Help
The physical implications of car accident injuries can be overwhelming enough without figuring out how to prove liability and obtain enough compensation to cover your expenses.
Ask your doctor what to physically expect from your specific injuries, an experienced lawyer who has spent decades assisting those who have suffered physical injuries in car accidents can answer your legal questions about seeking compensation.