Did You Know Not All Car Accident Injuries Manifest Immediately?

Statistics on car accident injuries estimate you’ll file a collision claim every 17 years and 11 months. Treatments for traffic-related injuries in the USA, based on estimates, cost $10 billion every year.

Going by those statistics, if you’re 18 years or older, you’ve probably been in an accident. Depending on how severe the impact was, you likely experienced emotional trauma days, weeks, or even years, after the crash.

If not worse, delayed car accident injuries are as harrowing as emotional pains. Victims might have sustained cuts or bruises that went unnoticed amidst the rush of the moment.

Since delayed injury symptoms don’t all manifest the same way for everyone, we’ve provided a list of accident symptoms you can use when talking to a doctor or lawyer plus a few other things to keep in mind.

Startling Trends in Road Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2.44 million people are injured every year from vehicle crashes. Crashes resulting in injuries grew by 4.1 percent in 2015.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lifetime medical costs of vehicle crashes in 2012 summed up to $18 billion. And Americans who sustained injuries from crashes spent a total of 1 million days in hospitals as a direct result.

Every year, the U.S. loses an average of $820 per person to road accidents. That’s a total of $230.6 billion annually. The number one cause of death to U.S. citizens traveling abroad is traffic accidents.

The CDC report also said that the lifetime work lost due to crashes stood at $33 billion. The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) says that road traffic accidents are the ninth leading cause of death worldwide, as 2.2 percent of all deaths come from an auto accident.

The ASIRT reports that,

  • Between 20 to 50 million people are either injured or disabled every year from car crashes.
  • The number of people who die due to car accidents yearly is at 1.3 million, and that’s about 3,287 people every day.
  • The cost of road crashes globally stands at $518 billion. The GDP cost of car accidents to individual countries is at one to two percent.

Ten percent of car crash victims in the U.S. become disabled. Six million car accidents happen in the U.S. every year.

Delayed Symptoms that Follow Car Accident Injuries

Our body system is an oxymoron. It’s both durable and delicate. You could have a headache on a bad day, and a good nap would heal it – if your health is intact.

However, if you just survived an auto crash, headaches and other body pains could be warning signs. Persistent pains might be symptoms of car accident injuries that you didn’t discover at the time of the crash.

Any of the symptoms – delayed or immediately after the auto accident – suggests that you should seek medical attention at once.


How severe is your headache? The exact area and level of severity of this symptom matters. The pain could be signaling a blood clot, brain or head injury, neck injury, concussion, or whiplash.

If a headache is somewhat disturbing, then it might be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the crash.

The chance of a headache resulting from car accident injuries is high. In fact, 30 percent of the people with brain injuries suffer post-traumatic headaches. Although in car accidents, migraine, tension-type, and cervicogenic headaches are more common.

A cervicogenic headache doesn’t come with nausea. It could result from car accident injuries on soft tissues and muscles at the back of the head or in the neck.

Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches could range from mild to severe pain that starts in the neck, back of the head, or shoulder. The pain may go as far as to the top of the head. Moving your neck or attempting to position it could increase the suffering.

Migraines result from brain hypersensitivity. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Aura; the warning signs – seeing bright lights and spots – when a headache is coming
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Feeling a weak throbbing sensation on one or more sides of the head
  • Sound and light sensitivity.

Tension-type headaches result from muscle stress and spasms. Symptoms would occur later in the day with squeezing sensations felt around the head; pain level is mild to moderate.

Get medical help immediately after a car crash. These signals might be validations of a whiplash injury:

  • A headache getting worse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling weak in your legs and arms
  • Difficulty in speaking due to pain
  • Increased sleepiness following a headache.

Abdominal Swelling or Pain

Car accident injuries that affect internal, soft-tissues left untreated can get severe, if not fatal. Internal bleeding could go unnoticed causing a delay in symptoms.

Internal bleeding that follows a not-so-serious auto accident may not show any immediate symptoms. As the bleeding continues, the signs would emerge, and then grow worse.

Abdominal pains could start days after a crash. Get medical attention immediately if you notice any pain.

Two types of trauma – blunt and penetrating – cause internal bleeding.

  • Blunt trauma: Results from a high-speed impact that tears or crushes blood vessels due to blunt impacts or the sheer forces.
  • Penetrating trauma: Just as the name implies, this trauma happens when an object makes a hole in one’s blood vessels after penetrating the body. Any sharp object in a car during an accident could cause this to happen.

Internal bleeding could cause headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, deep bruises and purple skin (i.e. ecchymosis), or fainting. Trauma in the liver or spleen, according to WebMD, causes internal bleeding.

In 65 percent of all cases of abdominal wall ecchymosis (AWE), an intestinal injury has occurred. In fact, it’s only in eight percent of abdominal injuries that AWE isn’t present.

Pain in the Neck or Shoulders

Whiplash may also follow car accident injuries. This injury is notorious for delayed symptoms that may take several hours or days to surface. On rare occasions, whiplash may show immediate signs.

Pains in the neck or shoulders could be signs that one’s cervical spine has a herniated disc – a spinal injury. This is whiplash.

People suffering from whiplash may need MRI or CT scans, and x-rays to diagnose any injuries. Whiplash follows a sudden, enormous force of backward and forward movements of the head. The quick swerve of the head would cause tendons and ligaments to stretch and tear.

Your head restraint could limit the distance that your head travels in a sudden movement. However, the chance of spine damage before your head reaches the head restraint is high. In fact, researchers say that the head restraint reduces the risk of spine damage by only 11 to 20 percent.

Symptoms of whiplash, in 75 percent of patients, last more than six months. And you’re more likely to suffer the injury if you’re between 30 and 50 years old with women being 500 percent more likely to suffer whiplash than men.

Back Pain from Car Accident Injuries

Car accident injuries can damage the vertebrae. Back pains following an auto crash could be symptoms of injuries in the ligaments, nerves in the person’s back, or muscle.

Back pains, especially in the lower back, could be signs of a herniated disc, sprain, or strain. Damaged structures near the spinal cord may be pressing on nerves.

More than 50 percent of impact collisions from the rear result in lower back pain injuries. In 75 percent of side impact accidents back pains follow.

Tingling, Weakness in the Limbs, and Numbness

A herniated disc resulting from car accident injuries may show symptoms in other parts of the body, like the limbs, apart from the affected areas.

Tingling feelings, numbness, and weaknesses in the limbs signal that a herniated disc might be pressing on spinal nerves.

In some instances, patients might feel severe pains in their limbs in response to a herniated disc.

Imaging and x-ray tests help doctors identify injuries and start treatments.

Emotional Suffering and Personality Changes

People who’ve experienced traffic accidents can suffer depression, anxiety, and in some cases, patients may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long after the chaos of the accident.

These emotional challenges may be directly related to the crash, come from physical injuries, or be a mix of the two. Brain injuries may cause personality changes, such as behavioral changes, difficulty in controlling strong emotions, and emotional pain.

People suffering PTSD can experience nightmares and see vivid, recurring memories of the event. These nightmares can persist for long periods of time.

Delay Signing a Release of Liability for Settlement

After you’ve received your claim as a car crash victim, you’re expected to sign a release of liability form. Sign on the dotted lines, and you’ve authorized to end any lawsuits and relinquish any claims in connection with the accident.

There’s a danger in signing that form too soon. If you haven’t accounted for delayed car accident injuries or trauma symptoms, you may lose the opportunity to file a claim, forfeiting compensations you might have received due to those injuries.

Make sure to get a complete medical examination after you’ve been in a car accident before you sign the release form. You may want to consult with a lawyer to guide your decisions on accepting settlements.

What to Do If You Experience Delayed Pain After a Car Accident

You might be under pressure to sign a settlement claim. Don’t. Holding off from releasing liability gives you power in the future. You can get compensation at a later date from any delayed symptoms of car accident injuries.

Don’t just calculate the current costs of treating your injuries now, remember to factor in ongoing medical bills that might result from these injuries.

The best practice here would be to delay until you’ve reached “maximum medical improvement (MMI).” Wait until you’re fully healed.

At MMI, your chances of further hidden injuries go down almost to zero. It makes sense to sign the documents for release of claim then. Base your decision on your doctor’s report, not wishful thinking.

Your lawyer could help you makes sure that the driver at fault shoulders the cost of your car accident injuries.

Get a Free Case Review

Don’t just go home and believe all is well after a car crash. Don’t take a mild car crash mildly. You might have sustained car accident injuries with delayed symptoms. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

See your doctor. Have your body thoroughly checked for any signs of internal bleeding or trauma.

If, after the accident, you notice any changes in your body, get medical attention. Watch out for recurring or increasingly severe headaches, uneasiness in your neck, back, or abdominal area, swelling, emotional pain, nightmares, or PTSD.

Wait before you sign any release of claims.

And if you need a lawyer to help you navigate the process, we can help by giving you a free case review.

We here at Babcock Partners have been helping innocent victims like you for more than 17 years. Half our cases deal with car accident injuries, with the other half dedicated to personal injury, motorcycle injury, trucking injury, brain injury, and wrongful death.

We’re experts at getting you compensation for your injuries and have been awarded some of the highest honors in our field including:

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