In the minutes and hours following a car accident, you may feel dazed, confused, and shocked. The adrenaline in the immediate aftermath of an accident can fill you with anxiety and leave you unsure whether you have sustained any injuries. While a severe injury may be evident immediately, some serious injuries don't reveal themselves in the initial hours or even days after an accident.
While not all injuries may have catastrophic effects on a victim’s life, victims can still suffer chronic pain for months, years, or the remainder of their lives. They can rack up huge medical bills to keep treating problems that never go away. If you know what to expect physically after an accident this could help you make decisions that could be important to your health and wellbeing. And if someone else caused the accident, they should pay to help you get better—something a car accident lawyer can help you with.
Aches and Pains, or Something More?
A car accident is a jarring experience. The moment of impact can feel like it occurs in slow motion but in reality, the force of the crash violently throws your body about. From the impact itself to tightening seat belts, exploding airbags, and flying debris, many forces at play during an accident pose a danger to you.
It is understandable and expected that even after a minor collision a car accident victim will feel some aches and pains in the hours and days that follow. However, this is also the time when symptoms of more serious injuries can arise, and may indicate a need for urgent medical care. There are several types of serious injuries and conditions that can appear days or even weeks after an accident.
Common injuries with a delayed onset of symptoms include:
- Head injuries;
- Neck or back injuries, such as whiplash or spinal injuries;
- Internal bleeding;
- Nerve damage;
- Soft tissue injuries; and
Your Mental Health Can Also Suffer
In addition to the physical impacts of an accident, the mental and emotional effects of a traumatic event can take a toll. Even accidents that avoided serious injuries can leave drivers and passengers with despair, anxiety, and sadness. While this may not be a physical injury, it is an injury to your wellbeing and deserves your prompt attention and medical care to get you on a path to healing.
In recent studies conducted on victims of motor vehicle accidents, over 20 percent of car accident survivors develop PTSD associated with the accident. This is a clear indication of the overall mental health impacts of a car accident on the population. While not every accident victim suffers from PTSD, you may encounter other mental health challenges or conditions that stem from the accident and that may require therapy and treatment.
Possible indications of mental health or emotional conditions due to a car accident include feelings of:
- Persistent sadness;
- Panic attacks;
- Development of new fears;
- Irritability; and
- Mood swings.
Factors That Can Exacerbate Your Injuries
No two people ever react to an accident in the same way. This is because we all come with different life experiences and physical attributes that can make us more or less vulnerable to injury during an accident. When you evaluate or consider your symptoms or injuries, do not make the mistake of comparing yourself to another passenger or driver involved in the accident.
Occupants within the same vehicle who experience the same accident can end up with a wide range of varying injuries. Pre-existing conditions or impairments can be worsened in a car accident, leading to long-term effects.
When Should You Seek Medical Assistance?
After an accident, your primary focus must be on seeking treatment for your injuries. If you are in pain at an accident scene or have any visible injuries, accept emergency medical transportation to an emergency room for immediate evaluation.
If you didn't feel injured at the accident scene but develop symptoms in the following days or weeks, including pain, discomfort or generally feeling unwell, seek medical care as soon as the symptoms develop. Any unnecessary delays in treatment or care can result in more serious injuries and impacts on your health.
The pursuit of prompt medical assistance and treatment is vital to protect your health as well as your legal rights in a personal injury claim. Document all information related to your injuries. By keeping detailed contemporaneous notes of your experience along with medical records, photographs, and videos, you can prepare to support your personal injury claim.
Should You Contact a Car Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident caused by someone else, contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your injuries and car accident case. While you might consider managing your personal injury claim on your own, keep in mind that it will be a time-consuming and difficult process to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Car accidents can lead to overwhelming financial expenses and prolonged pain and suffering. The at-fault driver can be held responsible for the damages they caused under the law.
A car accident lawyer can help you calculate the damages you have suffered and negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party and their insurance company on your behalf. They can guide you and represent your interests at every step of the way as you navigate the personal injury claim process.