Around 7,500 people are injured every day in auto accidents, according to 2017 crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car accident injuries can vary from minor to severe and even deadly. Many crash victims don’t feel the full extent of their injuries until hours or days after a car accident, and it can be hard to know physically what to expect.
Let’s look at some of the most common symptoms from car accident injury and how they affect injury victims’ recovery.
What are Common Physical Symptoms After a Car Accident?
You may not fully feel all your injuries in the moments right after the accident (more on that below), so here are some symptoms to watch out for.
Headaches (Very Common)
Many people experience headaches after a car accident—but not always right away. Maybe you feel okay right after the accident but wake up to a splitting headache the next morning, or even days later.
Headaches after car accidents can be caused by:
- Neck or should tension
- Traumatic brain injury
- Anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A headache can range from a minor annoyance to a symptom of something more serious. If you develop a headache at any time after your car accident, see your doctor as soon as possible to make sure all is good.
Neck, Shoulder, or Back Pain
Pain in your neck, shoulders, or back is also common after a car accident. Some of these pains may seem to come out of nowhere after you felt fine. The pain may be in one location or feel like it’s shooting down the arms or legs. Either way, neck, shoulder, or back pain shouldn’t be ignored.
Causes of these pains may be from:
- Muscle tension
- Injury to the joints, tendons, or muscles
- Nerve or tissue damage
Bruises are caused by damage to your capillaries, the tiny blood vessels beneath your skin. You may not see the full extent of your bruising right away because it can take time for blood from the vessels to reach the surface of your skin.
Most bruising heals on its own, but serious car accidents can cause damage to internal organs that need immediate medical attention. You should especially see a doctor if you have bruising, tenderness, or discoloration that doesn’t improve.
Numbness or Tingling
Nerve or tissue damage can cause numbness or tingling, especially in your back, neck, shoulders, or hands or feet. This can sometimes be accompanied by pain. These symptoms will need treatment, so it’s important to mention them to your doctor as soon as you notice them.
Changes in Mood
Physical injuries are the primary source of compensation in a car accident insurance claim, but emotional damages are very common too. You may notice yourself experiencing extra anxiety, depression, or mood swings after the accident. Concussions can also cause changes in mood after a collision.
Upset Stomach or Abdominal Pain
If you were wearing a seatbelt during the crash, it was likely pulled tight on your body. This can cause bruising or other trauma to the stomach area. If you have pain or nausea, tell your doctor right away to rule out serious conditions like internal bleeding.
After trauma to your body from an accident, swelling is very common. You may experience swelling from tissue damage, pulled muscles, sprains (such as whiplash), and more. Swelling can be tricky because it may not reach full effect until hours or days later.
When the area swells, it can cause a lot of stiffness or pain. You can often remedy swelling at home by elevating and icing the area. However, you should still tell your doctor in case you need additional medical attention or longer-term treatment like physical therapy.
Ringing in Your Ears
Ringing in the ears is also known as tinnitus. It can result from loud noises, stress, or a concussion resulting from a car accident. Get your doctor’s opinion on the best way to address tinnitus.
Trouble Concentrating or Remembering
Stress, shock, or head injuries from a car accident can leave you feeling foggy or having trouble remembering things.
While it might sound silly to go to the doctor for a lack of concentration, it’s best to make sure you don’t have serious brain trauma or mental health issues from the accident that need to be addressed.
Blurry Vision or Dizziness
A variety of factors, such as whiplash, concussions, or PTSD, can cause blurred vision or dizziness after a car accident. These symptoms can also take hours, days, or even weeks to fully develop, so get checked out if they continue or worsen.
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Why Do Some Car Accident Symptoms Not Show Up Until Later?
Many people feel shocked or even confused right after being in a car accident. As a driver in the accident, your mind is instantly preoccupied with how to handle the situation. You’re probably worried about the damage the crash caused, whether or not those involved are okay, how you should report the accident, what it will cost you, and more.
Plus, your body is being pumped with “fight or flight” hormones like adrenaline. These hormones help you stay alert to handle the accident while also suppressing pain. You might not feel the full pain from your injuries (or any pain at all) until after the stress hormones have balanced back out. This is why it’s important to monitor yourself for worsening pain hours and days after the accident.
How Long Can I Expect Physical Recovery to Take?
This answer can vary widely depending on the severity of your accident and your injuries. It can take anywhere from days to weeks, months, or years for a car accident injury to fully heal. Factors like age, health status, and treatment also play a large part.
You can help improve your recovery time by:
- Getting treatment right away
- Carefully follow your doctor’s advice
- Following all recommended long-term treatment, such as physical therapy
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating a healthy diet
- Doing what you can to reduce stress
Working with a car accident lawyer is helpful to many injury victims after a collision. If you were not at fault for your accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your expenses. But dealing with the insurance claim and the insurance company while trying to get better is a lot to take on.
Having a lawyer on your side allows you to focus on healing, reducing stress, and being with family while they handle the legal side of things.
Need Legal Help After a Car Accident?
John Foy & Associates can help you file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance after being injured in a car accident. You shouldn’t have to worry about the legal process on top of trying to get better and pay your bills.
Our goal is to get you full compensation for your damages—and we have been helping car accident victims do just that for over 20 years. To schedule a FREE consultation with us, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.