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Delayed Onset Injuries After a Car Accident

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Posted By Legal Team | October 16 2023 | Car Accidents

Car accidents are terrifying and painful. Often the chaotic aftermath of an accident is traumatizing as the victim deals with injuries, injured loved ones, and police and insurance companies. Many times, the adrenaline surge an accident victim experiences during the hours and days immediately following a car accident masks symptoms of significant or even grave injuries. Other injuries—including whiplash and some traumatic brain injuries—may take time to develop due to inflammation and bleeding.

It’s critical to undergo a thorough medical evaluation after a car accident, but it’s also important to be aware of signs of delayed injuries that could appear long after the dust settles on an accident scene.

Common Causes of Delayed Injury Symptoms After an Accident

The physical and emotional trauma of a car accident triggers the brain to release a potent mix of stress hormones to help the victim cope with the fear, pain, and distress of the accident. This natural coping mechanism is helpful in the short term but may mask symptoms of injuries that the victim would otherwise notice.

Some injuries also cause nerve damage that could leave the victim temporarily or even permanently unable to feel pain in an injured area. This occurs when damaged nerves or swelling around nerve tissue temporarily block pain signals from reaching the brain.

In some cases handled by experienced personal injury lawyers in Atlanta, an injury develops during the hours after the accident. For example, a head injury could cause slow bleeding between the brain and skull. Over the hours following the accident, the blood causes increasing pressure against the brain, leading to damaged tissue.

Signs of Delayed Brain Injury After a Car Accident

Brain injuries are not always immediately detectable. Our experienced team of Atlanta car accident lawyers have seen cases in which delayed symptoms present themselves during the hours, days, or even weeks after a car accident. 

Signs that you may have experienced a brain injury with delayed symptoms include the following:

  • Persistent or increasingly painful headache
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Seizures
  • Tremors or tingling in the limbs or hands

Experiencing any of the above symptoms is a sign that you may have sustained a head or brain injury that went undetected during the initial medical examination. 

Back and Neck Injuries With Delayed Onset of Symptoms

Whiplash, back injuries, and other types of neck injuries may also have delayed symptoms or symptoms that worsen in the hours or days following the initial car accident injury. Inflammation of damaged soft tissue may cause increased pain or stiffness, making an injury more noticeable over time. Symptoms of back and neck injuries after a car accident include the following:

  • Increasing stiffness and pain in the back or neck
  • Radiating pain in the shoulders or arms
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs

Whiplash occurs when the head makes a rapid forward and back movement during a crash. Whiplash and broken vertebrae in the neck and back are common after a car accident and may have delayed symptom onset.

In some cases, an accident victim may make the mistake of declining medical treatment after an accident due to delayed onset of injuries. It’s critical to seek medical care after an accident and ask for a complete evaluation with a detailed medical report.

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