In 2012, upwards of 2.5 million people were sent to the emergency department due to injuries from a car crash. Of those, 200,000 were hospitalized.

But car accident injuries are not always felt immediately. Even if you walked away from a crash without sustaining any injuries, you may have delayed injuries that won’t present symptoms for days or even months after the crash.

From physical injury to emotional distress, car accident injuries that present delayed symptoms can be serious and sometimes even fatal. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of delayed injuries so you can seek medical attention quickly.

Keep reading to learn more about what symptoms to look out for after you’ve been involved in a car crash. Being aware of these could save your life or the life of a loved one.

Preventing Injuries

Car crashes are projected to become the 7th leading cause of death world by 2030. They are such a serious issue that even the United Nations has included the need for sustained action in the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There are things you can do to prevent injury when driving a vehicle or being a good passenger.

  • Ensure that every person in the car is wearing their seatbelt whenever you are in the car.
  • Over 1,600 children under the age of 15 die each year in car crashes. Ensure that children are wearing their seatbelt and use a car seat or booster seat for children under the age of 8 or under 57″ tall.
  • Don’t drink or use drugs and get behind the wheel.
  • Pay attention to other drivers. While you may be driving safely, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and the potential for crashes with drivers around you that are driving unsafely.
  • Avoid speeding and swerving. Always follow the speed limits, use your signal and obey the rules of the road, traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Keep headlights and taillights on so other drivers can see you. Know when it’s appropriate to use high beams.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is fit for driving on the road.

When to Seek Medical Assistance

Things like fractures, cuts, broken bones and other physical injuries present themselves immediately after an accident and should be treated right away.

Even if you don’t sustain these obvious injuries, it’s still important to get a medical evaluation. No matter the degree of severity, anybody involved in a car crash should be evaluated by a medical professional. A doctor may be able to find injuries before you start to notice symptoms with a full check-up.

After you’ve been in an accident, it’s critical that you keep an eye out for delayed symptoms. Serious injuries may not present themselves for hours, days or weeks after bad car accidents. Your doctor may not notice these during your immediate evaluation.

One common injury after a car accident is pain associated with whiplash. With massage therapy and post-accident rehabilitation, this shouldn’t last more than 6 weeks. If the pain continues after this period then you should consult a doctor.

If you experience any of the symptoms we discuss below, you should consult a doctor immediately. Don’t delay or assume that your symptom is unrelated to your car accident. This could result in the injury worsening as well as the inability to claim insurance to get the treatment you need.

Delayed Symptoms of Car Accident Injuries

Every year over 2 million Americans are injured or disabled in a car crash.

Ignoring the following symptoms can not only lead to the injury getting worse and a loss of insurance to help you get the proper treatment, it can also be fatal.


It’s common to develop headaches days or weeks after a car accident. While a headache seems harmless and relatively normal for some people, they can be a sign of a much bigger problem.

Headaches can be accompanied by spells of dizziness. They may be the first sign of a blood clot or injury to the neck or head. It can also be one of the signs of a serious concussion.

If you experience headaches after a car accident, there’s a risk that this could be related to a traumatic brain injury. That’s especially true if you were thrown about during the accident or if you hit your head.

If you hit your hard enough, the soft tissue in your brain may knock against your skull. This results in swelling, bruising, bleeding and damage to your brain that can be fatal if not treated properly.

Neck or Shoulder Pain and Stiffness

Whiplash can cause neck and/or shoulder pain after a bad car crashes.

It’s common to experience delayed whiplash after involvement in an accident. It usually occurs if your vehicle was hit from behind. Whiplash can even occur when an accident happens at speeds less than 14 mph.

If you’re feeling neck and/or shoulder pain for longer than 6 weeks after an accident, you should seek medical attention. You’ll need to undergo x-rays, CT scans or MRI’s.

Neck and/or shoulder pain or stiffness may also be a sign of a herniated disc or a spinal injury. The proper medical follow-up can determine the extent of the injury.

Back Pain

Back pain can be the result of an injury to muscles, ligaments or nerves in your spine and vertebrae. It might be signaling a herniated disc, soft tissue injury, a sprain or whiplash.

If you experience back pain along with some form of numbness or tingling, you may have a pinched nerve that needs medical attention.

Any injury to your back can affect your mobility and quality of life. Back pain can be debilitating and it can hinder you from continuing life-as-usual.

It’s also quite common to sustain back pain as the result of a rear-end car crash. More than half of the people who are hit from behind experience a back injury as a result.

Abdominal Pain or Swelling

These delayed symptoms can be signaling very serious injury that requires immediate medical intervention. Abdominal pain or swelling could be signs of an internal injury or even internal bleeding.

Soft-tissue injuries that are not visible but are very serious can cause pain in the stomach days after bad car crashes. Experiencing pain in your stomach should be considered an emergency.

If you don’t have abdominal pain but you’re noticing deep purple bruising, dizziness, nausea or fainting, these may also be a symptom of an internal injury. They should be treated as an emergency as well.

Internal bleeding is a life-threatening injury that requires immediate treatment.


Whiplash can cause you to lose feeling in your arms and hands. This is known as whiplash associated disorder and it could be caused by neck and spinal damage.

Tingling or numbness may also be caused by a herniated disc or a pinched nerve, which are serious conditions requiring treatment. Left untreated, these injuries can get worse and start to affect other areas of your body.

Changes in Personality

Not all car injury symptoms are physical in nature. For example, the signs of common brain injuries resulting from a car accident aren’t always physical changes.

Brain injuries are incredibly dangerous – over 1 million every year suffer a traumatic brain injury and 50,000 people die from them. Bad car crashes are the second leading cause of death from traumatic brain injury.

Impaired cognitive ability or memory, personality changes or depression may point to a traumatic brain injury. Having problems with movement, vision or hearing may also be cause for concern and should be looked at right away.

PTSD and Other Emotional Distress

Bad car accidents can lead to the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That’s true for both drivers and passengers. Children involved in bad car crashes are especially vulnerable to developing PTSD.

PTSD is characterized by vivid memories of the car accident as well as nightmares and an inability to function normally in your day-to-day activities. Flashbacks are also a common sign of PTSD.

Other forms of emotional distress can be debilitating on their own. They may even be a symptom of a brain injury or concussion. They include sleep disorder, fatigue, problems concentrating, appetite changes, mood swings, relationship problems, loss of motivation, loss of enjoyment, emotional imbalance, panic attacks as well as sadness, anger or distress.

PTSD and other forms of emotional distress can have an impact on your quality and enjoyment of life. These symptoms should be treated with as much regard as any physical injury.

The Problem with Late-Injury Claims

Compensation can help you get the treatment you need to heal from your injuries after a car accident. But injuries that appear days or weeks after bad car accidents can be difficult to claim.

Insurance providers treat delayed injuries with suspicion. They may assume that you’re exaggerating or even lying about the extent of your injuries. They may even try to claim that your injury occurred after the car accident.

This is why it’s so important to seek medical attention immediately following an accident regardless of the extent of your injuries. That’s even truer if you experience any of the symptoms listed above. Because the longer you wait to claim your injuries, the harder it is to connect the accident to the injury.

Where to Go for Help

If you were involved in a car accident and had delayed symptoms of car accident injuries, you may want to seek the advice of a car accident lawyer after you’ve received medical treatment. Contact us for advice on how you should proceed.

If youve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephens 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 240-4053 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even! Call Stephen! Stephen Babcock