Vehicles are driving more miles in the United States, and that means the risk of car accidents is higher, too. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased 2.2 percent year-over-year, and the fatality rate increased 2.6 percent.
If you’ve been in a car accident and feel fine afterward, you may be tempted to assume you have zero injuries and that the accident was minor. Unfortunately, you may have sustained serious injuries that just aren’t apparent yet. The shock or adrenaline you’re feeling after an accident may mask pain or injuries.
Delayed symptoms can lead to life-long ailments if they’re not treated. Ignoring the potential for injuries could also damage your chance of success if you decide to pursue a car accident lawsuit later. Here’s what to be aware of.
Whiplash in car accidents can cause serious bodily damage. According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful and rapid back-and-forth neck movement, occurring most often during rear-end car accidents. Whiplash can cause chronic neck pain and life-long complications. If whiplash occurs in someone who has reduced mental or physical abilities, it can lead to increased social isolation.
The following are some signs that you’ve experienced an injury from a car accident, even if you experience any of these days or even weeks after the accident. If you can get medical help immediately after any car accident you’re in, that’s best to protect your health. But you should also be aware of these symptoms that may emerge later. Even if they seem minor, they could be indicators of serious problems.
Back pain can be a sign of whiplash, which can cause serious injuries like muscle damage and soft tissue injuries, pinched nerves, a herniated disc or a sprain. Watch out for tingling and numbness and any back pain that is more severe than you’ve experienced in the past.
Headaches and Dizziness
Headaches caused by car accidents may be a result of whiplash, concussion, a neck injury, a brain injury or a blood clot. Dizziness may occur due to neck instability or a concussion. You may also experience headaches or dizziness as a result of emotional stress from the accident, as serious as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Neck and shoulder pains are a sign of whiplash and could also indicate a herniated disc or other spinal injury, or ligament sprains, muscle sprains or damage to nerves, joints or bones. Neck and shoulder pain may occur in isolated areas or may radiate down a shoulder to affect the entire arm and hand. Other delayed symptoms include neck stiffness or a reduction in range of motion.
Stomach pain can arise several days after an accident and indicate damage to internal soft tissues.
Bruises that develop or worsen in color over time may be an indication of internal bleeding.
Tingling and numbness may be signs of nerve damage, which can occur due to a herniated disc. Unusual sensations throughout the body should also be monitored. Any tingling, numbness or weakness that radiates throughout a body part, like an arm or shoulder, can be a serious sign.
A concussion or nerve damage can cause blurry vision or impaired vision.
Problems speaking, swallowing, yawning or chewing may be indicators of a jaw injury or injury to the esophagus or larynx.
Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in one or both ears that may occur from whiplash. Injuries like a brain injury, nerve or vascular damage, or jaw injury may cause tinnitus, too. Stress may be another cause of tinnitus.
Mental Health Issues
Lingering pain in the body may show up as a symptom when it affects mental health. Anger and increased irritability, sadness and depression, trouble concentrating, fatigue and sleep problems are all signs of mental health issues like post-traumatic stress that may be a result of the accident.
Stay Protected If Delayed Car Accident Symptoms Arise
Because many pain symptoms may occur after you leave the scene of a car accident, you should avoid saying anything like, “I feel fine,” right after an accident. In some cases, an admission of zero pain after an accident may hurt your ability to prove delayed pain was caused by an accident. Another attorney could claim your pain arose because of a factor not related to their client’s negligence.
You should also avoid signing a release of liability form right after an accident, and definitely not until you’ve seen a medical professional. The sooner you can get a medical consultation, the better protected you’ll be. Even if your doctor gives you a medical evaluation that is positive, you should still stay vigilant of the warning signs mentioned above and get further treatment if any occur.
Avoid settling a claim before you have reached “maximum medical improvement,” which means a condition has stabilized, and further improvement is unlikely. At this point, you’ll have an idea of the true scope of your injuries.
In any case where someone else’s negligence is to blame for a serious car accident you’re in, you should contact a Birmingham personal injury lawyer to stay protected. The Birmingham car accident attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums provides free no-risk consultations. Your health and finances deserve protection. Contact us for a free consultation.