Delayed Injuries After A Car Accident: Signs To Watch Out For

Feb 20, 2024 | Personal Injury

If you were recently involved in a car accident, hopefully you saw a doctor afterwards. If you haven’t yet been examined by a medical professional, you should do so as soon as possible. While you may think you feel fine or that your accident wasn’t that serious, it is possible that your injuries are simply delayed. 

If your injuries go undetected for long enough, you risk causing further damage and reducing your chances at a full and successful recovery. Even if you were examined immediately after your accident, there is still a change that your injuries simply haven’t manifested yet, and weren’t detected during your examination. 

There are also legal considerations to consider. If your accident was caused by a negligent driver, your injuries will need to be documented in order to have a case against the insurance company of the at-fault party. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss more about delayed injuries, their warning signs, and the steps to take following your accident. 

Understanding Delayed Injuries 

Delayed injuries refer to physical or psychological harm sustained in an event, such as a car accident, that may not immediately manifest symptoms or become apparent at the time of the incident. Instead, these injuries may develop gradually over time, often hours, days, or even weeks after the initial trauma. These injuries may be overlooked or underestimated in the immediate aftermath of the event, potentially leading to complications and long-term consequences if not identified and treated in a timely manner.

So why does this happen? In short, the human body is actually quite amazing – it can detect when you are in danger, and send two chemical responses, adrenaline and endorphins, in reaction to that threat. When adrenaline and endorphins are combined together, they create a chemically modified state through which you function after your collision. Those effects can mask and suppress your awareness of injury, often for as long as 24-48 hours. But it isn’t uncommon for your bodily struggles to appear days or weeks after the accident. 

The most common injuries that often don’t manifest immediately after a car accident are whiplash, soft tissue injuries, head injuries (like concussions and TBIs), and psychological and emotional trauma. 

Signs And Symptoms To Pay Attention To


Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in a car accident. It happens when a sudden force jolts the neck back and forth, causing damage to the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in the neck and spinal column. When symptoms don’t appear until long after the accident, it is called delayed whiplash or late whiplash syndrome (LWS). Whether the symptoms are immediate or delayed, LWS may reveal itself by:

  • Severe headaches starting at the base of the skill
  • Pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of fatigue or low energy
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Jaw pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble remembering or concentrating

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries (STI) are when trauma occurs to muscles, tendons, or ligaments as a result of a sudden unexpected or uncontrolled movement caused by your car accident. The most common STIs include soft tissue sprains/strains, contusions, and lacerations. Symptoms include immediate as well as delayed pain and swelling, stiffness, a limited range of motion, and bruising. 

Concussions And Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

These are the most common head injuries sustained in car accidents, and their symptoms are known to have delayed manifestation. TBIs are caused by the sudden movement of the brain inside the skill that often happens during a car accident. The rapid movement bruises or tears vital blood vessels and tissues in the brain.

A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury that affects brain function for a short period of time. Such functions as concentration, memory, balance, mood, and sleep are known to be impacted. Some people think that if they didn’t lose consciousness, they didn’t sustain a concussion, but this isn’t always the case. It’s important to look for signs such as:

  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Dazed appearance
  • And more.

These symptoms can also point to a full TBI, but there may also be more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Clear fluid drainage from the ears or nose
  • Repeated vomiting or persistent nausea
  • Difficulty waking from sleep
  • Numbness and weakness of the fingers and toes
  • Unusual changes in behavior, especially agitation or combativeness
  • And more. 

Psychological And Emotional Trauma

Tangible injuries are not the only delayed injuries that can manifest. Psychological and emotional conditions can also develop, both immediately and eventually. PTSD is common for those that survive traumatic car accidents, as is anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, and nightmares. Symptoms include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • A phobia of driving or riding in a car
  • Feeling antisocial, detached, or apathetic
  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling confused, helpless, irritable, overwhelmed, or upset
  • And more. 

Seeking Medical Attention In The Aftermath Of A Car Accident Could Be The Key To Your Successful Recovery, As Well As Your Full And Fair Compensation

As already stated, when critical injuries aren’t treated properly and in a timely manner, the chances that you recover fully and return to the health you enjoyed prior to the accident could be jeopardized. The most important reason to seek a doctor if you have delayed injuries is to protect your well-being, above all. A doctor or medical professional can work to manage your pain, develop a treatment plan, prescribe necessary medicine, and more. 

Moreover, a doctor can help expedite and improve your claim to the insurance company of the at-fault party. These companies are notorious for devaluing and even denying the injuries of victims, so that they don’t have to pay you, or can pay you as little as possible. A skilled auto accident injury lawyer can use your medical documentation to make sure you recover the damages that reflect the severity of your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and any other financial hardships the accident caused.

Our lead attorney, Isaac Ortega, can fight for justice on your behalf. He will evaluate your situation and the details surrounding your accident and subsequent injuries, then navigate you through the claims process. He will handle the paperwork and communication with insurance representatives, as well as negotiation if they offer a value that isn’t favorable. Call today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can put you in the best possible position for getting paid! 

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