Car accidents often cause injuries that are immediately noticeable, such as broken bones and lacerations. However, some collisions inflict injuries that are not as obvious. In these cases, a crash victim may not realize he or she is injured until hours or days later. This is why it is critical to go to a hospital immediately after any car accident, even if you initially feel fine.
Neck Pain or Stiffness
One of the most common car accident injuries is whiplash. This injury affects the soft tissues of the neck, such as the muscles and tendons. It can occur if the head and neck whip rapidly backward and forward in a collision, stretching or tearing the muscles. It can take time to notice the symptoms of whiplash, especially if adrenaline from the car accident masks pain.
In the hours or days following the crash, you may notice pain or stiffness in your neck, shoulders or upper back. You may also notice a headache that starts at the base of your skull, as well as dizziness or tingling sensations anywhere in your body. If you notice these symptoms after a car accident, go to a doctor for a potential whiplash or neck injury.
Traumatic brain injuries are often considered catastrophic, meaning they inflict a severe level of damage on a victim. Brain injuries can lead to permanent brain damage and disability. Yet the symptoms of a brain injury are not always immediately obvious. Many types of brain injuries have delayed or hidden symptoms that appear in the days following the crash.
If you hit or bumped your head in a car accident, be aware that you could have a brain injury even if you do not notice symptoms right away. An MRI or CT scan could show brain trauma, such as bleeding or swelling, before you notice the symptoms of the injury. Be on the lookout for potential symptoms, such as a persistent headache, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble sleeping or personality changes.
The back and spinal cord may not show signs of injury right away. However, as time passes, you may notice pain, tenderness or soreness in your back. Persistent back pain may get worse with movement, such as bending down, twisting or lifting things. In some cases, a car accident may cause a slight injury that is not noticed until later when you move your back the wrong way and exacerbate the injury. This could be the case with a slipped vertebral disc, for example, which may have been injured in a car accident but may not rupture until later.
If an impact in a car accident affects the torso or stomach, or if the internal organs crashed into each other due to the forces of the collision, this could cause internal injuries, internal bleeding and organ damage. Internal injuries may be overlooked immediately after a car accident. As the internal bleeding gets worse or the organs start to fail, however, the symptoms may become more noticeable. Be on the lookout for red flags such as abdominal pain, a swollen or tight abdomen, nausea, vomiting, clammy or sweaty skin, breathlessness, or bruising in the area.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Physical damage is not the only harm that can be suffered by a car accident survivor. Living through this traumatic experience can also cause mental, emotional and psychological harm. The symptoms of emotional damage may present themselves suddenly and unexpectedly in the days or weeks after the crash. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can include flashbacks of the crash, nightmares, increased anxiety, and a new phobia of cars or driving.
In Texas, car accident victims may be eligible for financial compensation for both physical and emotional injuries. If your injuries were delayed, however, it can be more difficult to receive fair compensation from a car insurance company. Contact a car accident attorney at Maloney & Campolo for assistance with the car accident claims process.