How Long After a Car Accident Can Symptoms Appear?

Car accident injuries usually manifest themselves immediately, but some may take days or even weeks to appear. In some circumstances, a life-threatening injury could worsen for weeks before a person realizes the issue originated from a recent car accident. This is because some injuries, such as injuries to internal organs, do not display symptoms readily. Other times, people mistake a symptom for a minor ailment. Ultimately, the specific injury determines how long after a car accident symptoms can appear.

Car Accident Injuries

Car accident injuries can vary greatly. Some victims may walk away with mere scratches while others spend days in the hospital. It all depends on the particular dynamics of the specific accident. Some of the more severe injuries that can result from a motor vehicle crash include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Lacerations
  • Burns
  • Whiplash
  • Loss of limbs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ damage

According to Mayo Clinic, car accidents alone account for the majority of spinal cord injuries in the country. This is part of the reason why doctors inquire about previous car accidents when assessing patients with back or neck pain.

According to the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), whiplash, another typical ailment after a car crash, can sometimes take days to develop. If a victim of a car crash walked away from it feeling no neck or back pain, they may believe they are in the clear, but it may simply be that their whiplash is taking longer to manifest.

Delayed-Onset Injuries After a Car Accident

Another form of injury that can occur after a motor vehicle collision includes one with delayed symptoms. While these instances may be rarer, certain cases present life-threatening situations.

For example, an injury that a victim perceives to be minor could start an infection in the body or lead to organ failure that takes three to four weeks to manifest. According to the Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, these situations can lead to “late deaths” following a car accident.

According to the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, one car accident victim experienced severe intestinal damage from the restraint of their seat belt after an accident but only displayed symptoms three days after the impact. Due to the location of the injury, the victim may not have realized the symptoms they were feeling in their stomach related to their use of a seat belt. When people get into the habit of wearing their seat belts, they often use them without even noticing, so it makes sense that they may not make the connection immediately.

Brain bleeds and brain injuries can also have symptoms that take a long time to appear after a car accident. According to the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, one patient’s severe brain bleed worsened over the period of a month before showing any symptoms that would warrant immediate medical attention. Some victims may easily confuse a subtle symptom of a brain bleed for a fleeting headache, only making their condition worse the longer they wait for medical treatment.

Assessing Injuries After a Car Accident

While every car accident will be different, any car accident warrants a fair assessment of the losses if a victim is seeking compensation. Immediately apparent injuries may hide more serious conditions that could lead to ongoing, chronic medical issues in the victim’s future.

If a victim aims to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, they may qualify to receive a financial award for their economic losses. If they face a debilitating medical condition for their foreseeable future, they deserve fair compensation that accounts for their future medical expenses. If they can prove the other driver acted negligently and that the accident resulted in their medical condition, they can go after not only their hospital bills and lost wages from the weeks following the accident, but also any medical expenses related to the accident they may face down the line.

Consider Shaw Legal Solutions for Help With Your Case

If you were involved in a car accident that was not your fault, you may have the right to seek compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. You do not have to handle the legal process alone. You have the right to seek legal counsel and representation from the very beginning of the process.

Shaw Legal Solutions advocates for car accident victims who suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence. If you believe you have a case, give us a call for a free consultation. You can reach us at (425) 214-4946.


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