If you were involved in a car accident, you may not have sustained a noticeably severe injury. You may not feel any pain or immobilization at the time of your crash. But don't let that fool you.
Even if you feel fine after a crash, it's dangerous to assume that you didn't sustain an injury. Adrenaline often kicks in and masks physical pain due to the shock of being involved in a crash. As an injury begins to manifest itself, you may experience pain, discomfort and other symptoms days later.
Common injuries with delayed symptoms
The lack of immediate pain felt in these injuries often fools crash victims into thinking that they are OK, but produce serious symptoms days later:
- Whiplash: Whiplash usually occurs in rear-end collisions (even minor ones) when a car occupant's head and neck move in a whip-like motion, damaging the soft tissue in the neck. Rarely do crash victims actually feel any immediate pain. Symptoms can take several days to appear and usually include neck pain and stiffness; pain in the arms, shoulders, and upper back; tingling in the arms and hands; dizziness and fatigue; mood changes; and poor neck mobility. It can take several weeks or months to recover from whiplash (depending on the individual and the severity of the injury). Treatment for whiplash includes rest, medication for pain and inflammation, application of heat or ice, and muscle relaxers.
- Mild traumatic brain injuries: Mild concussions can be caused by a blow to the head, even if a crash victim doesn't lose consciousness. Symptoms can take several days to appear and usually include dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, poor balance and headaches, as well as difficulties with sleep, speech and memory. It take an average of three months to recover from a concussion, but it can take longer depending on the severity. Treatment for concussions usually includes rest, avoiding work or certain activities and taking pain medication.
- Soft tissue injuries: Trauma to the muscles, tendons and ligaments may hurt briefly, but may not be a major problem until hours later or the following day. If you sustain a soft tissue injury, you may later notice serious bruising, swelling, inflammation and loss of mobility to the affected body part. The amount of time it takes to recover depends on the severity of the injury. Treatment usually includes rest, compression, application of ice, and medication for pain and inflammation. If the affected area was torn or doesn't improve, surgery may be required.
Why should I get prompt medical attention if I don't feel injured?
Even if you don't feel injured after a crash, you should always get prompt medical attention for two reasons:
- It can prevent your injury from getting worse. Your doctor can identify and begin treating your injury in the early stages. This will prevent it from getting worse and potentially shorten the recovery time.
- It provides documentation that can be beneficial to your claim. If you receive prompt medical attention after a crash, the at-fault driver's insurance company can't argue that you waited too long or that your injury is exaggerated.
After receiving medical attention, your next course of action should be to contact an experienced Montana car accident attorney at Braukmann Law, PLLC. We can help you build a strong legal claim and negotiate with insurance companies to help maximize your compensation. We serve clients in the greater Billings area and offer free and confidential legal consultations.