Car accidents can leave injury victims with a long and difficult road to face afterward. Accident injuries can range from minor to severe and sometimes permanent. But even if they are not life-altering, they can leave injury victims with outstanding medical bills and lost wages. On top of that, your car might be totaled, and you also have to deal with insurance companies.
But what happens when you have injuries that are not immediately apparent or obvious? What if they get worse over time? Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to settle as soon as possible. While it might initially seem like a relief or the easier option, they usually offer an unfairly low initial settlement. Moreover, if you have an accident injury that takes time to develop, you might not even know the true extent of your injuries while the insurance companies are trying to settle. In fact, many car accident injuries have delayed symptoms. That’s because the initial shock and adrenaline of the collision often mask pain perception. In this article, we’ll go over some common car accident injuries that have delayed symptoms.
Whiplash is a major neck injury commonly resulting from a car accident, occurring in about 12% of car crashes. Over three million cases of whiplash occur each year. Moreover, over half of all whiplash cases progress to some type of chronic symptom. While car accidents are not the only cause of whiplash, they are the most common.
Whiplash is the result of a violent jerking motion of the neck. The impact of the collision makes the head rapidly snap back and forth. This injury often occurs with soft tissue damage and bone fractures. Some symptoms of whiplash include, but are not limited to:
- Stiff neck
- Pain in the neck area, shoulder, upper back, and arms
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
Unfortunately, whiplash is often mistaken for another injury or overlooked at first. The symptoms of whiplash don’t usually show up until two days (or more) after the collision. As a result, injury victims with whiplash don’t get medical treatment until they experience unbearable pain or immobility in their necks.
Concussions are a type of head injury. While they used to be considered a minor consequence of contact sports, health professionals now consider a concussion much more pressing. Concussions are as serious as traumatic brain injury (TBI). They result from a blow or bash to the head, causing the brain to bounce inside the skull.
Concussions are not life-threatening emergencies but can have grave consequences if left untreated. While injury victims experiencing a severe concussion will show symptoms immediately, a mild concussion might not have symptoms until later. Some symptoms of a concussion include:
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty remembering things
- Loss of consciousness
The typical onset of concussion symptoms is about one hour after the injury. However, sometimes it can take much longer to appear. For example, many things happen in the hour following a car accident. You will have encountered first responders, police, other drivers, witnesses, and perhaps even called a tow truck.
By the time you realize you have a concussion, it may have worsened or have greater potential to have long-term effects. That’s why getting immediate medical care after an accident is crucial, even if you don’t think you have significant injuries.
Internal Damage or Hemorrhagic Shock
Hemorrhagic shock occurs when an injury causes heavy bleeding that isn’t stopped immediately. The result is a loss of oxygen at a cellular level due to excessive blood loss. Occult bleeding or internal bleeding is not readily apparent to the injury victim. Both internal bleeding and hemorrhagic shock are caused by blunt force trauma. They are prevalent after car accidents. However, they often occur with other injuries, making them hard to detect. For example, a broken pelvis or femur can make internal bleeding almost undetectable.
Blood Clots and Hematomas
Blood clots typically form slowly over time; therefore, it can take time for a car accident victim to notice symptoms. In the worst cases, people may not notice they have a blood clot until it’s fatal or life-threatening. Blood clots form after injury from blunt force trauma. While the clot itself is not a resounding threat, if it goes untreated, it can become dangerous. For example, if a blood clot breaks away and travels to the lung or brain, it becomes life-threatening.
It’s not unusual for someone to suffer from a blood clot after a car accident. Any injury that causes internal bleeding can lead to a blood clot formation. This can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT occurs when a clot forms deep in the veins. Furthermore, the symptoms of DVT can mimic other, less severe injuries. Symptoms are often mistaken for normal soreness. Common symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:
- Muscle pain, soreness, or aches
- Redness and warmth at the injury site
A serious case of DVT can form a pulmonary embolism, when the blood clot travels to the lungs. Medical professionals can treat pulmonary embolisms if they are detected early enough. That’s why injury victims should never delay medical treatment. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism that injury victims should never ignore:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Clammy skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Profuse sweating
Hematomas are another type of injury that can have delayed symptoms. A hematoma is a collection of blood around the blood vessels. Bruises are one type of hematoma we are all familiar with. But, more serious cases of hematomas can be deadly. For example, seatbelt trauma can cause a hematoma that affects an artery or organ. But, since the injury is internal, it can go unnoticed for weeks after a car accident.
Back injuries are another common car accident injury that can have delayed symptoms. Examples of back injuries include:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Spinal cord injury
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal fractures
Many people think they have a simple backache from the accident, only to find out later that they have a serious injury. A whopping 63% of patients who get a back injury from a car accident will experience chronic back pain.
Some back injuries can take months or even years to develop fully. Sometimes back injuries are complex and difficult to diagnose right away. Back injuries usually only worsen over time, especially when left untreated. Here are some symptoms to look out for if you think you might have a back injury after a car accident:
- Back or neck pain
- Numbness or tingling in the limbs (arms or legs)
- Back muscle spasms
- Loss of bladder control
- Loss of bowel control
- Leg cramps
- Balance issues
- Shortness of breath
The spine is a delicate and intricate system that serves as the body’s central support system. Therefore, back pain should not be taken lightly. A severe spinal cord injury could leave a victim with permanent disabilities or paralysis. Furthermore, severe damage to the spine can cause life-threatening secondary complications.
Psychological and Emotional Distress
A car crash is a traumatic event. Therefore, it’s common to see accident victims experience emotional distress and psychological conditions like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Right after the accident.
The body releases adrenaline through a natural reaction called “fight or flight.” This response causes people to experience distress, anxiety, fear, and shock after surviving such a dangerous event. While it’s normal to experience these stress responses to a certain degree after an accident, people should address prolonged or ongoing distress.
Here are some common symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
- Have flashbacks, nightmares, or other intrusive thoughts of the accident
- Avoidant behaviors like not wanting to ride in cars anymore
- Rapid mood swings or pervasive experiences of negative emotions like shame, guilt, or detachment.
- Experiencing irritability, recklessness, or excessive fear
What Should I Do After A Colorado Car Accident?
When personal injury victims experience delayed symptoms, they often worry about how they will afford medical expenses, car repair costs, and more. Moreover, personal injury claims are complex, and each person’s case is unique depending on the circumstances. Therefore, personal injury victims can hire an experienced legal professional to help connect the dots between their symptoms and the accident.
Having strong legal representation with experience in dealing with these types of cases can be critical to achieving a successful outcome. That’s because, with delayed injuries, it can be tricky to prove that your injuries resulted from the accident and not something else.
Remember, you can take steps immediately after the accident to ensure you protect your rights. Here are some tips on steps to follow after an accident:
- Seek prompt medical attention, even if you think you don’t have a severe injury
- Keep a record of all medical care and bills
- Keep your own documentation of all injuries and symptoms you experience
- Follow your medical professional’s prescribed treatment plan, medication, and any other directions
- Get medical care if your symptoms change or worsen
The fact that you have delayed injury symptoms will be an excuse for insurance companies to undervalue or deny your claim. They often try to purport that delayed injuries are unrelated to the accident. That’s why it’s important to get medical care right after an accident, regardless of how minor or severe your injuries are. And if you do have an injury that is not apparent, you could prevent it from worsening.
What Can I Recover After a Car Accident in Colorado?
An experienced Denver car accident attorney can help you recover costs for your medical bills and other damages, including:
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Wrongful death if you lost a loved one in a car accident (including funeral and burial costs, loss of consortium, medical expenses, and more)
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When injury symptoms are delayed after a car accident, that can make your claims process more complicated. The good thing is that you can get peace of mind knowing that you have the best legal professionals fighting in your corner.
We will help you hold the responsible parties accountable, so you can focus on healing and recovery. We are not afraid to take your course to trial if necessary to win you a fair settlement.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. Your injury symptoms already showed up late, so don’t delay protecting your rights any longer.