Being in a car accident is a frightening event, not least because it’s unexpected. Accidents can be minor or catastrophic. But no matter the scale of the accident, it’s crucial that you seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you feel perfectly fine, there are injuries that can be serious that may not present symptoms immediately. Left untreated, some of those injuries can cause future problems. Here are some conditions that may not be apparent shortly after the accident.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Sometimes people wonder if a concussion is the same thing as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, a concussion is a type of TBI. TBI is a larger category of brain injuries. These types of injuries are caused by either a blow to the head or severe brain jostling, such as when the body is forcefully thrown forward or back (similar to whiplash).
TBIs can have several symptoms, or they may have none at all, at least at first. When symptoms appear, they can include:
- Head pain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Mental confusion or difficulty remembering the accident
- Ringing in the ears
If TBIs aren’t treated, the symptoms can worsen and last longer than they would if treated medically. Someone may end up with long-term problems with balance, personality and mood changes, sensitivity to light and noise, or problems with taste and smell.
This is an especially serious injury that frequently doesn’t show symptoms right away or at all. When symptoms do arrive, the injury may have reached a tremendously dangerous state. Symptoms include pain or swelling, dizziness, headaches, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
There are times when internal bleeding will stop on its own. But if it doesn’t and it’s left untreated, it could lead to organ damage, coma, or even death.
Neck injuries, especially whiplash, are a typical result of a car accident. When the human body is forcefully thrown back and forth, the neck in particular can undergo whipping-like motions that injure it. Neck injuries can also occur when debris hits the neck, such as unsecured items in the vehicle.
These may not have symptoms right away. When symptoms arise, they can include pain, an inability to turn the neck or look up and down, or muscle spasms. Neck injuries can manifest as symptoms in other parts of the body, too, such as tingling or numbness in the arms, pain that spreads to the back or shoulders, blurred vision, or nausea.
If untreated, neck injuries can eventually lead to degenerative disc disease or vertebrae misalignment. They can also lead to long-term dizziness, chronic headaches, difficulty sleeping, and depression or other mood disorders.
It would seem likely that back injuries would immediately cause pain, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes there is swelling or bleeding around the base of the spine that slowly leads to numbness or paralysis but isn’t evident right away. Pain may not show up for hours or even days.
There are several types of back injuries that can result from a car accident:
- Back strains and sprains
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disorders such as sciatica or pinched nerves
- Spinal fractures
- Left untreated, back injuries can take longer to heal and can even lead to further damage.
Soft Tissue Damage
Car accidents can cause damage to the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and tendons) around the knees, ankles, feet, shoulders, elbows, and wrists. These may not hurt immediately, leading someone to think there’s no damage. When symptoms do appear, they include pain, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion for the affected body part.
It’s common for people to think these kinds of injuries are minor and don’t need medical care. But if left untreated, they can worsen and lead to further damage. In the worst cases, they may eventually require surgery to repair them or lead to permanent damage that can affect day-to-day life.
What Should I Do if I Was in a Car Accident?
You should call the police to get an official police report documenting what happened, as that will be important for any claims or lawsuits you eventually file. For all the reasons listed above, you should seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you feel fine. Make sure the physician understands you were in a car accident, so they’ll know what to look for. Another reason to seek immediate medical care is that if you don’t, the other party’s defense may claim your injuries were caused after the car accident, not during it. Finally, call us 24/7 at 281-941-6842 to set up a free nationwide case review.
What you should not do after a car accident that involves another driver is talk to their insurance representative or lawyer. Their goal is to remove as much fault as possible from their client–and that means finding ways to get you to accept blame for the accident. Similarly, don’t sign any papers or agree to any settlements with them. They want to keep any settlements as low as possible, and you may be eligible for a larger payout. Instead of talking with them or responding to written correspondence, refer them to us.
It’s also vital that you don’t talk about the accident with the people in your life. They could end up as witnesses against you if your case goes to trial. The only conversations you have about the accident should be with your attorney and your insurance representative.