Car accidents are traumatic experiences even when there is minimal damage. Since some people experience a mental fog after a car crash, making it difficult to focus, they may not be aware of their injuries right away. Also, some injuries are not immediately evident.
Here are six trauma symptoms that often don't appear right away after a car crash:
- Headache: It is common for a crash victim to experience a problem several days after a motor vehicle accident (MVA). This pain may mean nothing or may signal a more serious problem like a concussion (traumatic brain injury) or a head or neck injury.
- Neck and shoulder pain or stiffness: Whiplash is the classic delayed symptom, usually not becoming painful until 12 to 24 hours after an accident occurs. Whiplash injuries can occur even at very slow speeds. An x-ray, CT scan or MRI may be necessary for a diagnosis or to rule out serious complications. It can take months for neck and shoulder pain to subside completely and may require physical therapy.
- Abdominal pain or swelling: An internal injury may have a delayed onset of symptoms as it can take time for the injury to evolve. Have any abdominal pain or swelling evaluated in an emergency room immediately, and make sure that medical personnel know you were recently involved in a traffic accident.
- Numbness: Swelling may cause numbness, which can occur anywhere in the body and may be perceived as a tingling, stinging or total loss of feeling. These symptoms may indicate nerve damage, or compression of the nerves in the neck or spine.
- Behavioral or mental changes: Concussions are often not evident for a number of hours. The first symptom of a severe head injury is often lethargy or feeling excessively sleepy for no reason. Other symptoms could be difficulty completing simple tasks, confusion, impaired memory, blurred vision, difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that injuries from motor vehicle accidents account for 14 percent of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Research suggests that about 9 percent of serious car accident victims develop PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is even more common in individuals who have preexisting mental health histories. PTSD is almost always delayed in its presentation, appearing in the weeks and months after a traumatic event occurs. Symptoms can include sleep disturbances, fear, anxiety, depression, vivid memories of the event.
The consequences of motor vehicle accidents are costly - both physically and financially - for victims and their families.
No matter how minor your accident may seem, seek medical treatment right away. Serious post-accident complications may entitle you to compensation for your losses. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another's negligence, contact the personal injury law firm of Jerry D. Andrews, P.C., to learn about your recovery options.