Delayed Injury Symptoms After an Accident

In 2015, the NCDOT reported that 251,638 traffic accidents occurred in North Carolina, of which 123,589 people were injured.   This is an 11% increase from the previous year.   

In some accidents, injuries sustained by drivers and passengers are obvious, and their symptoms are evident right away.  However, in some cases, notably sprains and strains of the neck and back (classified as soft tissue injuries), symptoms and issues can arise over hours or even days, and may not be evident at the accident scene.   

Be mindful after an accident

A car accident, even if it seems minor in nature, can have delayed onset of symptoms and injuries, and you’ll want to be careful how you proceed from the time of the accident.  If you think its possible that you may have had even a minor injury, it is vitally important that you get treated by EMS at the accident scene, and that you get medical attention promptly following your accident, so that you have a clearly documented history of medical treatment to rely on if and when your symptoms do increase.   If you decline medical attention, or if you tell an adjuster that “you’re fine” after an accident, you may have a much more difficult time proving that your injuries are real and substantial, without the medical documentation (even if it doesn’t reference specific symptoms) that proves that your accident was severe enough to warrant medical attention in first place.

Headaches may be a sign of a more serious injury

Headaches are not uncommon following a car accident, but they can also signify a more significant injury, such as whiplash and or concussion.  Headaches that start 2-3 days after an accident can signify a traumatic brain injury, which is a very serious injury.   If you didn’t get medical treatment immediately after the crash, it is going to be harder to prove that your headaches are related to the accident, since you are only receiving medical treatment days later for a symptom you claim is related, but is generally common in nature.    Thus we always suggest filing an accident report, taking pictures of your accident, and letting EMS treat you after a crash, as a way to protect yourself in the event that an adjuster tries to deny or downplay your claim for compensation when it comes time to settle.

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Neck and back pain and Spinal Injuries

One of the more common symptoms we see in our clients is back pain.  Our clients will report that they had no back pain the day of the accident, but awaken the next day to debilitating pain and loss of range of motion in their back and or neck.  Immediately following an accident, adrenaline can be keeping you from feeling any of the impending symptoms, and it is only when the body can actually relax that the true symptoms of the injury start to become evident.    Many spinal injuries don’t show up on a Xray unless you’ve injured the vertebrae themselves.  More commonly, the muscles in the back and neck spasm and contract, as a response to trauma, which can cause things like pain, numbness, tingling, and radiating sensations in arms and legs.  Because X Ray’s cannot adequately diagnose these injuries, spinal injuries are typically investigated with CT scans and MRI’s, which are more costly and involved. 

Abdominal and Gastroenterological symptoms

Internal injuries from a car accident are also difficult to identify and can be deadly. The impact, the seatbelt, or even the airbag deploying can cause internal injuries which are very dangerous and not always easy to diagnose.   If you have swelling, bloating, or other gastroenterological symptoms (or even dizziness/fainting) in the aftermath of a car accident, it is vitally important that you are evaluated for possible internal injuries, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.   

Cognitive changes

Again, injuries from a car accident are not always immediately obvious.  This is especially true for traumatic brain injuries, which can cause changes to motor function, emotions, and personality.  Because there is no easy text (like an X-ray) for these injuries, many go undiagnosed.     If you or your loved one have had marked changes to their cognitive or motor functions, dramatic changes to mood or if you just detect that “something is off”, that’s the time to get checked out for traumatic brain injuries.    This is usually done through a neurologist or a neuropsychologist who can submit a person to a battery of tests to establish cognitive function and any deficits that may have been created by a brain injury.  These are especially important to follow up on, as the effects of a TBI can last months, years, or even be permanent in nature.  In this case, an experienced lawyer can help ensure that you’re properly compensated for your loss of function and future potential, both professionally and personally. 

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Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

Many of us think of PTSD as something combat veterans come home with after serving abroad, but any frightening or traumatic event (like a car accident) can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder.    PTSD is very serious and very real but is treatable with therapy.   The sooner the treatment starts after the event that caused it, the better.  If you have symptoms of PTSD from a car wreck and need help getting the treatment you need, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today. 

Protect yourself

As you can see, its not always clear how “bad” an accident was in the immediate aftermath.  Many times,  adrenaline is pumping, our thoughts are racing, and we’re just not able to see our injuries for what they are.  This is why we always advise people to cover their bases, including taking photos, talking to witnesses and getting medical attention from first responders. If your symptoms develop over hours or days, having established a record of a serious crash is your best bet for making sure that you are compensated appropriately for your injuries.

Contact Us

If you have questions about a car accident and injuries you sustained, call us today to schedule a no-pressure FREE consultation.  We would be happy to discuss your case and see how we can help.  

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Attorney Lakota Denton

Attorney Lakota DentonLakota Denton has been practicing in his own firm since 2013, focusing solely on personal injury. He is a member of the American Association of Justice, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Bar association, the American Bar Association, the National Trial Lawyers, and was awarded Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers, the 2014 Top 40 Lawyers under 40, and the Avvo clients choice award. [ Attorney Bio ]



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