By Logan Quirk
You just got into a car accident and your mind is racing. While getting contact information, insurance numbers, and filing a police report are important, keep in mind these 8 delayed symptoms after a car accident. Any driver on an accident needs to protect their legal interest, but keeping tabs on your health and possible injury is as important, if not more so.
When it comes to your body and car accidents, all accidents, even minor ones, can have a destructive effect on the body. Keep in mind that even a sudden jolt at 25 miles an hour can produce significant injuries to the brain and other vital organs. Making sure to recognize the proper symptoms and then confirming them with a doctor protects your health and ensures that you get an appropriate settlement, if necessary.
If you develop these symptoms, make sure to contact a lawyer who can help to protect your interest and explain your rights.
When Should You See a Doctor
Always see a doctor directly after experiencing a car accident. Symptoms that could seem minor to the layman could point to significant problems that your doctor can detect. Make sure that when seeing the doctor, that you describe every symptom. They will likely seek to run tests to rule out significant injury.
Even if you do see a doctor just after an accident, make sure to keep tabs on your body and look out for these eight common symptoms.
Delayed Onset Post Traumatic Headache
Post accident headaches should always be taken seriously because they could have a variety of sources. Headaches can stem from concussions, neck and spine injuries, and even subdural hematomas which are pools of blood that collect between the brain and skull after traumatic injuries. Headaches can also form after accidents where the head is forced to rapidly move back and forth, a condition also known as whiplash. Whiplash and mild traumatic brain injury from striking an object can often present the same symptoms.
Headaches and brain injuries after car accidents, if left untreated, can produce serious problems. They can even lead to loss of both or either neurological and cognitive function in serious cases. Also, left untreated, headaches can increase both in number and severity, drastically affecting quality of life. A serious brain injury that does not receive medical attention can also cause permanent damage and even death.
Never brush off a post car accident headache, even if initially given a clean bill of health.
“Seatbelt Syndrome:” Intestinal Injuries
Seatbelts save lives and anyone riding in or driving a car should wear them at all times. Not only do studies show that they prevent catastrophic injury and death, but most states mandate their use in some fashion. No situation exists where you are safer driving or riding without seatbelts.
That being said, the violent motions in a car accident can push the vulnerable abdomen hard against seatbelt restraints and cause minor to serious injuries. Seatbelt injuries have a unique profile that a medical professional can discover easily after symptoms present themselves. According to the National Institutes of Health, however, these symptoms often do not present immediately after the accident.
Injuries to the abdomen can include damage to the abdominal wall, the intestines, and even the bowels. The organs and muscles could be damaged or the victim could be suffering from internal bleeding. Symptoms of pain or even tenderness to the abdomen can point to more significant injuries. The NIH urges doctors to keep car accident victims with possible “seatbelt syndrome” under observation even if they initially present no symptoms.
Again, abdominal injuries can be serious, causing permanent damage or even threatening your life. Always take post accident abdominal pain seriously. Internal bleeding could take days to develop symptoms, so stay alert for at least two weeks to the possible signs.
Fainting and Dizziness
Fainting and dizziness also could serve as signs of serious injury or injuries in the days after an accident. Symptoms related to these conditions include feelings of light-headedness, spinning, vertigo, blacking out, double vision, and more. Some related symptoms could also present more easily to those observing the victim than the victim him or herself. They may often observe that the car accident victim seems “out of it.”
These symptoms could point to a concussion. This injury occurs when violent motion or the striking of the skull causes the brain to shift in the skull to the point of causing injury. Untreated concussions could possibly lead to permanent damage, especially if the individual has a history of them from sports or some other source.
Fainting and dizziness can also occur when an individual has started suffering from internal bleeding. This can reduce the blood supply to the brain and other vital organs while causing pain in the area or areas where the blood is pooling.
While fainting and dizziness may seem like a minor inconvenience at the time, it could be a sign of serious brain or body injury.
Whiplash Causing Neck and Shoulder Pain
Whiplash is a very common injury that does not often present symptoms immediately after a car accident. It most often occurs in car accidents when one car strikes the victim’s car from behind. Many of these injuries happen in accidents where one or both vehicles are traveling under 14 miles per hour. These injuries originated during the years of railway travel and have been a common injury in automobile accidents
This injury can cause pain or stiffness in the neck and lower back as well as headaches. Studies indicate that the rapid forward to back motion of the head can cause a split second formation of the spine into an abnormal S shape, causing the injuries associated with whiplash. Of the several injuries that can affect a victim after a car accident, whiplash is one that could develop into a chronic condition due to the potential damage to the spine, nerves, and soft tissues.
Chronic pain associated with whiplash can also cause psychological issues known collectively as “whiplash associated disorder.” Those with long-term problems can suffer anxiety, depression, develop drug addictions from the pain medications, and suffer an overall lower quality of life.
Numbness From Whiplash
Numbness from whiplash can also point to significant damage from the car accident. Some patients report numbness or tingling in the face and the extremities. Victims suffering from numbness may also have headaches, jaw pain, or other issues.
Many times, numbness after a car accident points to damage or pressure on the central nervous system. Those suffering from this symptom should immediately contact their doctor because the injury could progress and cause more nervous system problems.
Spinal Injury Signs
One of the most devastating injuries that can come from a car accident is damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord serves as the most important part of the central nervous system, transmitting the brain’s instructions on movement and organ function. It also brings information back to the brain, especially sensory perceptions of the outside environment. Damage to the spinal cord can result in paralysis, chronic degeneration issues, and even death.
Emergency symptoms of spinal cord injury abound and many of them can serve as serious problems in themselves. They include:
- Serious back pain or pressure in back, neck, or head
- Lack of coordination, weakness, or paralysis in any part of the body
- Numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, especially in the extremities
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Balance issues or difficulty walking
- Difficulty breathing after the injury occurs
- Oddly positioned neck or back
Any of these symptoms can serve as a sign of significant problems and require immediate medical care if you have just had an auto accident.
Changes In Personality From Traumatic Brain Injury
One of the most vulnerable organs of the human body in a car accident is the brain. Your head can strike an object in the car hard enough to cause injury or damage. Even a violent motion alone can cause serious problems. Some symptoms can easily be traced to brain injuries, such as severe headaches that start right after the accident. Other times, symptoms build up slowly over time and not necessarily seem related to the event.
Brain injuries can cause changes in personality and behavior. Any injury to the frontal or temporal lobes, amygdala, or the hippocampus can cause slight to radical changes in the individual’s moods, emotions, and how they relate to others. Symptoms of persistent problems in these areas include violent behavior, volatile emotions, problems with memory, lashing out at others, judgment, problem solving, and other problematic issues. These changes in behavior can severely affect family life, employment, and other essential life situations.
Because of the nature of the brain and personality, in many cases the victim may not have full awareness of the changes in their own behavior. These symptoms, however, may also result from the emotional aftermath of a traumatic accident rather than physical damage. In either case, the accident victim must consult medical help to discover the source of the problem and obtain treatment.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Most people associate post traumatic stress disorder with veterans who have experienced combat. Certainly the largest and most studied group of those who suffer from PTSD, as it is usually referred, are combat veterans. Anyone, however, can suffer from this condition.
Experts describe PTSD as a mental health condition caused by an event that has terrified the victim. Another group that presents PTSD symptoms is victims of domestic abuse, either a single trauma or long-term exposure. Symptoms can include nightmares, irritability, flashbacks, and sometimes debilitating anxiety. Without care and treatment, the problems can get worse over time, leaving the victim increasingly struggling to function with daily life. When these symptoms persist for months or even years, many experts believe that the individual has developed PTSD.
Car accidents create conditions that lead to a person developing PTSD in a number of ways. The person could develop apprehension about riding in or driving a car. If the car accident involved serious injury or death, this could create a number of psychological reactions that could impair the individual’s function, health, and well-being.
Some of these reactions can materialize into serious symptoms. These include:
- Intrusive, unwanted, and uncontrollable memories about the event
- Avoiding memory of the event in different ways including avoiding discussion of it, staying away from the place where it happened or people it involved
- Increasingly negative behaviors, such as avoiding family and friends, developing pessimistic outlook, or feelings about yourself
- Emotional numbness and inability to feel good
- Hypervigilance, being easily startled, or overly concerned about danger
- Excessive guilt or shame about the event and its effects
PTSD is a dangerous mental health condition that often only creates more problems over time. These problems can ruin lives, so you must recognize them and act quickly. Make sure to contact a mental health professional if you or loved ones observe changes that seem like symptoms of PTSD.
Reach Out Today
If you have experienced an auto accident, make sure that you and your loved ones remain vigilant and watch for physical and mental health symptoms of injury or damage. If these develop later, you will need the services of a solid personal injury lawyer to ensure that you get the support and resources that the law and the situation allow. Do not trust in the good nature of the other driver and their insurance company. Make sure that you have an ally in court ready to fight for you.
The Quirk Law Group is your top choice in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or San Diego to protect you after a car accident. Contact us at (866) 306-9106 for a consultation. You can also send a confidential email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are experiencing any of these potentially debilitating symptoms, you have suffered enough. Please reach out today and make sure that an experienced attorney is fighting for you.