Car accidents, whether minimal or severe, at the very least can be unsettling and often are traumatic. There are immediate and obvious damages, such as dents on the car or a clearly injured body part, but what about the damages that show up after the fact? These can be just as severe, even if they manifest themselves later.
One factor in not being able to fully identify injuries immediately is adrenaline. When a car accident happens, the body tends to go into fight-or-flight mode, and adrenaline becomes a primary physiological driver. While adrenaline can help by making an injured person not feel (as) much pain, it’s also why that person won't always take note of pain until later, when the body has calmed down and those protective chemicals have stopped being released.
That said, here are some common ailments that tend to show up hours or days after an accident. If you find yourself in an accident, keep watch for any of these issues.
Think about what happens when an accident strikes: Cars collide, resulting in the body jolting in any number of directions. It doesn’t need to be a huge collision for it to have a big impact on the body. Jolting happens in any number of small accidents, like fender benders, as well as with bigger accidents. When joints and other soft tissues take the brunt of the crash, it can take weeks for symptoms to start showing. These injuries (think whiplash) won’t show up on X-rays, either, so these pains are easy for doctors to overlook (especially if an exam occurs right after an accident). Look for signs of swelling or differences in mobility that might come on post-accident.
Some signs of whiplash, which happens when your head is thrust forward and backward, are pain and/or tightness in the neck and shoulder areas and headaches. It’s important to see a doctor if this pain starts occurring because it might also be a sign of spinal injuries.
While it might be easy to think of stress or whiplash causing a headache, be careful not to shrug off the pain too quickly, as the pain might be stemming from a concussion or other serious injury. Even if the head didn’t get hit in the accident, it doesn’t mean there can’t be trauma in that area. Signs of concussions are blurred sight, foggy thinking, inability to focus, clouded memory and difficulty sleeping.
Not all injuries are physical. It’s not uncommon to have some type of post-traumatic stress as a result of the accident. This can show up as anxiety, depression and general shifts in personality.
If any of the above (or other) symptoms occur, it’s important not to let them go undiagnosed. Even if it’s just precautionary, it’s best to have doctor's visits logged in the case that a lawyer needs to get involved. If the injuries do result in needing to bring in a third party, Robert J. DeBry and Associates can help.