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WHAT TO EXPECT PHYSICALLY AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

December 15, 2023
Jack Fine

Physical injuries are a common consequence of car accidents, but not all injuries are the same. Some are immediately obvious, while other equally severe injuries may take hours, days, or even longer to become noticeable. Knowing what physical symptoms to expect after a car accident can help you understand when to see a doctor.

The Florida car accident attorneys of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano P.A. describe some common injuries resulting from car accidents, how you can recognize them, and how you can protect your health. Contact us today for a free case review.

What to Expect Immediately After the Accident

Some car accident injuries, such as lacerations and broken bones, are immediately apparent after an accident. However, in other cases, victims don’t notice any physical symptoms of an injury at first. Then, new health problems seemingly appear out of nowhere days or weeks later..

This strange phenomenon often happens because of a hormone called adrenaline, which floods the body as a natural response to stressful situations. Adrenaline stifles the body’s pain response, which often prevents victims from feeling the extent of their injuries right away. This is why monitoring your physical health and visiting the doctor for a professional diagnosis after any accident is critical to your long-term health.

After a Car Accident: Symptoms to Look Out For

Here are some common symptoms after a car accident:

  • Back, neck, or shoulder pain – Pain and stiffness in the neck, back, and shoulders are common post-crash symptoms. These symptoms can result from crash-related soft tissue injuries, nerve damage, tension, or stress. Some pain in these areas might feel like a dull, generalized ache, but it could also feel like a sharp, shooting pain that travels down your spine or arms. In any case, this type of pain could indicate a serious injury.
  • Pain in other areas of the body – In other cases, pain in one area may mask the pain in other areas of the body. As one area heals, an injury in another area may become more apparent. For example, a leg injury can cause back pain due to the muscle imbalance. Pain down the arms and to the hands and fingers can be caused by a direct blow or can be due to a cervical disc injury. Likewise, pain running down the legs and to the feet and toes can be due to a direct impact to that area of the body or can indicate a lumbar disc injury.
  • Immobility – If you are unable to move part of your body, it is important that you remain as still as possible. This could be a sign that you have a fracture. Try to stay in the same location and wait for help. Fractures may be able to be treated with a stint or cast. However, some may require surgery.
  • Headaches – Some people feel fine at the scene of the accident but wake up the next day or several days later to a painful migraine. In minor cases, headaches go away with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. But some headaches linger and might be signs of more serious conditions like whiplash, concussion, or other traumatic brain injury.
  • Speech problems – Slurred speech or word-finding difficulties are another potential symptom for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
  • Blurred vision – Several common crash-related injuries, including whiplash, concussions, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), could contribute to blurred vision. Victims might not experience blurred vision for several hours or days after an accident, so if you notice this symptom developing after a wreck, visit your doctor for a checkup and be sure to mention the car accident.
  • Tinnitus – Tinnitus is the medical term for a persistent ringing in the ears, which can result from exposure to loud noises, stressful situations, and concussions. Many car accidents involve all three of these factors, so tinnitus is a common symptom for crash survivors. While tinnitus is not harmful on its own, it could indicate a more severe issue, so it’s best to get your doctor’s opinion if you notice this symptom after a car accident.
  • Abdominal pain – Many vehicle occupants suffer abdominal injuries. Seat belt injuries can contribute to bruising and other soft tissue injuries to the abdomen, resulting in persistent abdominal pain. Pain can also increase later because of swelling, which can take some time after the accident to develop.
  • Nausea – Some crash victims experience nausea for days or weeks after a crash, which could signify a severe injury, such as a concussion or internal bleeding.
  • Tingling or numbness – Crash-related damage to nerve fibers and other soft tissues often causes symptoms like numbness and tingling sensations across the body, particularly in the back, neck, shoulders, hands, and feet. Injuries to discs in the neck can cause numbness, tingling, and dysfunction to the arms, hands, and fingers. Likewise, injuries to discs in the lower spine or lumbar area can cause leg pain and tingling. These uncomfortable pins-and-needles feelings may persist or worsen without treatment, so you should talk to your doctor as soon as you notice them.
  • Bruising – Bruising occurs when small blood vessels called capillaries sustain damage and begin leaking blood near the skin’s surface. Many bruises do not appear for hours or days after the initial injury, and most bruising will heal by itself with time. However, extensive bruising from a car accident could signify internal organ damage, so you should see a doctor whenever you notice persistent bruises, tenderness, or skin discoloration.
  • Impaired memory or concentration – Many crash victims notice difficulty remembering or concentrating in the aftermath of an accident. Several crash-related issues could contribute to this feeling of “brain fog,” including head injuries, shock, and generalized stress. If you’re feeling mentally sluggish or unusually forgetful, it’s worth going to the doctor to rule out the possibility of a brain injury.
  • Excessive sleepiness or fatigue – Persistent feelings of exhaustion might occur after an accident because of a traumatic brain injury or emotional problems like depression or PTSD. 

Factors That Will Affect the Way You Feel After an Accident

Every accident and accident victim is different. Therefore, what you experience after an accident can be much different than what other accident victims may feel. Several factors will affect the way you feel after an accident and how long your symptoms will last, including:

  • Your age and overall health
  • Any pre-existing conditions you have
  • The severity and speed of the crash
  • Any extra force to passengers caused by a trailer hitch
  • Whether or not you wore a seatbelt
  • Your position in the vehicle
  • Your vehicle’s size and crash protection
  • Whether or not your airbags deployed
  • Any post-crash treatment you receive

How Long Can You Expect Physical Recovery to Take?

Every healing journey is different, and how long yours lasts will vary depending on numerous factors. Some crash victims recover in a matter of days, while others could take months or years. You can reduce your recovery time by:

  • Seeking medical attention as soon as possible
  • Following your doctor’s prescribed care plan
  • Participating in therapy or rehabilitation as needed
  • Getting plenty of rest and maintaining a healthy diet
  • Taking proactive steps to reduce stress in your life

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Help

Were you hurt in a car accident in Gainesville, Florida? Then, get in touch with the team at Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano P.A. to learn more about your legal rights. You have a limited time to pursue compensation, with as little as 14 days for you to make a claim with your PIP insurance after an auto accident. We can help you identify possible sources of compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for your free initial consultation.