What Car Accident Injuries May Go Undetected at First?
May 20, 2021
Many car accident injuries are not obvious at the scene of the crash. Common car accident injuries that may go undetected at first include whiplash, concussions and other closed head injuries, and shoulder and knee injuries. Moreover, accident victims may not feel pain because of the body’s delayed reaction to trauma. After a car accident, it is always best to seek medical attention to help ensure better health outcomes and protect the rights of those involved. Those who have been injured in a car accident should also contact a lawyer to determine if they should file a personal injury claim.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is one of the most common types of injury that may go undetected immediately after a car accident. Whiplash occurs when a person’s neck moves violently back and forth like the cracking of a whip. When this happens, muscles and ligaments, or soft tissues, are stretched far beyond their normal range of motion.
It may take hours or even days for swelling and bruising to develop after a whiplash injury. When it does, the following symptoms may occur:
- Stiffness and pain in the back and neck
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Blurred vision
- Dizziness and fatigue
Minor whiplash injuries may heal in a week or so. However, some patients develop long-term effects. Symptoms of chronic whiplash include the following:
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Ringing in the ears
- Sleep disturbances
Whiplash is particularly common in rear-end collisions, although it can occur as a result of any type of car accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one-fourth of all car accident victims admitted to the hospital experience neck and back injuries such as whiplash.
What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?
Concussions are a type of closed head injury caused by a violent blow to the head, which can easily happen during a car accident. Symptoms of a concussion include the following:
- Tinnitus, ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
Many times, these symptoms do not show up immediately, although some concussions cause people to lose consciousness right away. Concussion symptoms may last for days, weeks, or even longer.
Some types of closed head injuries merely appear as bruises at first, but then end up developing into debilitating conditions. Symptoms of closed head injuries that tend to show up days later after an accident include the following:
- Concentration problems
- Memory loss
- Irritability or strange behavior
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Inability to taste or smell
When a concussion or other closed head injury results in bleeding in or around the brain, it can be fatal. This is why it is so important for car accident victims to go to the hospital where they can be monitored in case their symptoms get worse. A concussion can be detected by a cranial computed tomography (CT) scan.
What Types of Shoulder or Knee Injuries are Common in Car Accidents?
Shoulder and knee injuries that are common in car accidents include the following:
- Shoulder impingement. This injury can happen from the force of an airbag colliding with a person’s shoulder. Over time, tendinitis may develop, preventing the victim from performing daily activities such as lifting their arms up to put on a shirt. Rotator cuff surgery may be required to repair the damage.
- Torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This type of knee injury is common in car accidents, especially in rollovers or rear-end collisions. Over time, the knee may swell, resulting in severe pain. An MRI can confirm the diagnosis of a torn ACL.
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear. This type of injury happens when the knee is bent in an unnatural position during a car accident. Swelling and stiffness can develop, resulting in a loss of stability when a person attempts to walk.
After a car accident, the worst symptoms may not appear until hours or even weeks later. Having these injuries noted by a doctor helps ensure that victims get the treatment they need and it documents their injuries.
Why Do Other Types of Car Accident Injuries Go Undetected at First?
Other types of car accident injuries go undetected at first because of a biological response known as fight or flight. A car accident is a violent shock to the human body. To protect itself from trauma, the body responds by releasing a surge of adrenaline to support fight or flight. The surge of adrenaline accomplishes several things, including the following:
- An increase in energy
- A reduction in the level of perceived pain
- An increase in the flow of oxygen caused by dilated blood vessels and airways
- Sharper focus in vision and hearing
- An increase in blood flow to the muscles, producing greater strength
The body will also release endorphins that can help some people actually experience an increased level of calm in order to handle the pain and stress.
As a result, injured individuals may not feel pain until hours after the accident when the effects of increased adrenaline and endorphins wear off.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Anyone who has been in a car accident involving injuries should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If the injuries do not appear right away, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as symptoms develop. At that point, victims should quickly reach out to a qualified car accident lawyer who can review the case and decide whether an investigation is warranted to determine liability. Contacting a lawyer after a car accident is the best way to preserve one’s legal rights to recover damages.
The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have many years of experience representing individuals who have been injured in car accidents, including those whose symptoms did not fully appear right away, as illustrated by the following case:
- Woman suffers closed head injury in car accident. The client was hit by another driver who turned in front of her car. She was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be a bruised forehead. Her injuries did not resolve, and more symptoms appeared later, including memory loss and strange behavior. Doctors determined that the victim was suffering long-term effects of a closed head injury. The car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP obtained a $1.1 million settlement for her injuries.
It is important to note that even when injuries are not considered catastrophic, chronic and lingering symptoms may still create significant long-term hardships for victims. Individuals may lose their jobs, require ongoing medical care, or need to hire paid caregivers. An experienced legal team can assess the costs of these types of injuries to ensure that accident victims obtain the best future possible after a car accident.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Have Years of Experience Addressing the Needs and Concerns of Injured Individuals
During a car accident, a person’s body experiences a significant amount of trauma in just a few seconds. If you have been in a car accident, play it safe and see a doctor. If your injuries are serious, you may have concerns about your ability to go back to work, pay your medical expenses, and deal with your insurers. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can help. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.