How long until delayed injuries following a car accident appear?
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How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?

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Posted on January 3, 2024

The aftermath of a car accident is a traumatic time. Often victims are grateful to be able to walk away from an accident with their life, or that of their loved ones. In the rush of adrenaline during an accident and the endorphins associated with relief after surviving an accident, victims may overlook symptoms that seem minor or may not notice subtle symptoms of an injury at all.

It may be difficult to understand that a car accident victim might not know they are injured, but often it takes days, weeks, or even months for the full scope of an accident victim’s injuries to become clear.

Why is it Critical to Seek Medical Treatment After a Car Accident Even If You Feel Okay?

Anyone involved in a car accident should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. It’s best to accept transportation to the hospital with the emergency responders after the accident, but otherwise, make arrangements for transportation to an emergency room. At the hospital, ask for a complete medical evaluation. Be sure to tell your medical providers about all symptoms, including minor aches, pains, and bruises. Sometimes while investigating a mild pain, stiffness, or bruise, the doctor discovers a more serious underlying injury.

By having a thorough evaluation immediately after a car accident, you not only protect your physical health, but you’ll also have documented evidence that your injuries were caused by the car accident. This connection is a critical part of a car accident claim.

What Types of Injuries May Arise Days or Weeks After a Car Accident?

The National Health Institute recognizes that many injuries have a delayed onset of symptoms after a car accident. Common injuries with delayed symptoms include the following:

  • Whiplash (damage to the vertebrae in the neck caused by the rapid back-and-forth motion of the head and neck during a collision)
  • Back injuries
  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Abdominal injuries, including internal organ damage
  • Emotional trauma/PTSD

All of the above car accident injuries are serious and victims deserve compensation when these injuries result from a car accident in which another driver was at fault. Sadly, insurance companies often deny coverage when injury victims discover their injury weeks or longer after an accident. Insurers may claim that something else caused the injury since time passed before the diagnosis. When this occurs, it may take experienced legal representation with access to medical experts to defend your rights.

Symptoms to Watch For in the Days and Weeks After a Car Accident

It’s not uncommon to have a nagging backache diagnosed as a ruptured disc or broken vertebrae weeks after a car accident. In these cases, it requires documented evidence of the connection between the delayed discovery of the injury and the car accident that caused it. Similar delayed symptoms may reveal serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. It’s important to have a medical examination after an accident and then continue carefully monitoring for the following indicators of an underlying injury from the accident:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Changes in vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Dizziness
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty with concentration or focus
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Back pain and stiffness
  • Neck pain and stiffness

If you experience any of the above symptoms—even if it’s weeks after an accident—it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Ask for a detailed medical report explaining the cause of the injury, your doctor’s treatment recommendations, and your prognosis for recovery.