“I didn’t realize I was injured until a few days later.” I often hear this explanation as to why my client did not seek medical treatment immediately after a car wreck. But insurance adjusters and attorneys have sometimes claimed the injured victim is exaggerating or his symptoms are not related to the car accident.
That’s unfair. An auto accident is a traumatic event. A person’s body is hit with tremendous force and thrown around in an unnatural way. You may have lost consciousness. You will be in shock and dazed. And your car is wrecked. It’s not surprising that you could have suffered severe injuries that are not obvious right away but you don’t know what to do next.
Even if you feel okay immediately after the crash, you should always seek a medical evaluation. You should also be aware of common delayed symptoms that might not manifest for hours or days later, especially the following ones.
Early diagnosis of a brain injury, concussion or blood clot is particularly important. A blood clot puts you at risk of stroke as the oxygen supply is cut off from that segment of your brain. You must also take special precautions with a concussion to avoid a second concussion before the first one has healed. And yet these injuries are notoriously silent at the early stages.
2. Forgetfulness, Cognitive Dysfunction and Physical Changes
Car wrecks are the third leading cause of brain damage and the second leading cause of brain damage deaths. Therefore if you suspect that you could have brain damage, you want to get this checked out immediately. There are so many symptoms of brain injuries that we can’t discuss them all here, so it’s a good idea to pursue medical diagnosis if you perceive any unusual changes in your memory, judgment, cognition, coordination, balance, vision, speech, mood, sleep patterns or other physical or psychological functions.
Often the symptoms are so initially subtle that the person may merely feel just a little “off” and not realize the magnitude of his injuries. You should keep a close eye on your loved ones who have recently been in a car wreck.
3. Neck and Shoulder Pain
Your neck is not designed to withstand the force of a car crash. Whiplash occurs when your head is thrown violently backward and then forward, damaging the many intricate nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments and discs in your neck. Your neck may feel perfectly fine for a few hours before you gradually start to feel the neck stiffness and pain, intrascapular pain across the top of your back, and shoulder pain that are common symptoms of whiplash.
4. Numbness in Hands and Fingers
The damage that occurs to your neck can create symptoms that radiate down into your hands and fingers. Shooting pain, tingling, numbness and weakness may indicate that you ruptured or bulged a cervical disc. A sophisticated medical test like a magnetic resonance image can detect this serious injury.
5. Back and Leg Pain and Numbness
You might at first experience a backache which can quickly develop into excruciating back pain. You may have suffered a sprain to muscles and ligaments or, if the pain is accompanied by numbness and tingling, you probably also sustained nerve damage. A ruptured lumbar disc might also affect the sciatic nerve and cause shooting pain, weakness and numbness in your groin, buttocks, leg and feet.
6. Abdominal Pain
Internal bleeding is a life threatening condition that requires urgent medical intervention. This occurs when organs are severely damaged. As a result, you may experience swelling, pain, fatigue and fainting. A large bruise may also indicate that you have an injury deep below the surface.