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Auto Accident Delayed Injury Onset

Car accidents happen quickly but can result in serious trauma and injuries. It is not uncommon for injuries and symptoms to show up hours, days or weeks after being involved in an auto accident. This can be partially explained by your body’s entry into “fight or flight” – or when your body responds to danger through increased amounts of adrenalin and activation of self-preservation responses such as a quick energy surplus, rapid oxygenation of muscles, elevated strength, and pain tolerance and changes to vision and hearing. Some asymptomatic injuries, such as internal bleeding, can be life-threatening, making the need for medical evaluation critical. We recommend being checked out at an emergency room or urgent care whether you immediately experience injury symptoms or not.

While in a moving car, drivers and passengers travel at the same pace. When an impact occurs, the vehicle is abruptly stopped, but the passengers remain in motion until they are stopped by a seat belt, airbag or other barriers. Abrupt momentum changes often result in injuries to soft tissue, whiplash and strains to muscles and ligaments with delayed onset due to inflammation, swelling and stiffness. Here are a few common auto accident injuries that exhibit delayed presentation:

Seat Belt Syndrome

The use of automotive restraints protects against severe head injury and ejection. Injuries associated with the use of a seat belt are collectively known as Seat Belt Syndrome. Potential injuries range from bruising and abrasions to intra-abdominal injuries and vertebral fractures. Possible symptoms include the following:

  • Bruising & muscle strains around the abdomen

  • Leg weakness

  • Changes to urination/bowel habits

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Abdominal pain or pain between hips and ribs

  • Swelling & skin discoloration lasting more than a couple of days

  • Blood in urine/stool

  • Vomiting/coughing up blood

Untreated Seat Belt Syndrome can become life-threatening or result in permanent disabilities and impairments.

Head Injury

There are varying severities of head injuries ranging from mild concussions to traumatic brain injuries. These are caused by a blow or jolt to the head from blunt or penetrating trauma or from the brain contacting the inside of the skull, which is known as contrecoup injury. The primary injury may result in bruising, bleeding and/or tearing of nerve fibers. The individual may immediately be confused, have no recollection of the occurrence, have blurry vision and dizziness, or lose consciousness altogether. Once consciousness is regained, the individual may believe they are fine, but their condition may continue to decline rapidly. Brain swelling contributes to delayed trauma.

Spinal Injury

Typically caused by injury or damage to the vertebra, spinal discs, nerves, spinal cord and/or connective tissues of the spine. Symptoms often include back pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, loss of spinal mobility, numbness and tingling.

Slipped or Herniated Discs

Occurs when the inner, jelly-like, spinal disc fluid presses against the outer ring of a disc, forcing the disc to protrude and leak into the spinal canal. The first signs of a slipped or herniated disc typically include back and/or neck pain (based on the injury location). If the disc presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord, you may experience electrical pain, weakness, numbness and tingling and pain that radiates down your arm(s) or leg(s).

Whiplash

Happens when the head and neck jerk rapidly forward and backward upon impact, stretching and damaging soft tissues, nerves, vertebra and spinal discs in the cervical spine. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, muscle spasms and reduced range of motion.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Include sprains, strains and contusions occurring when soft tissues are stretched, torn or injured. Typical symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, muscle spasms and reduced range of motion.

Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD

Mental and emotional effects related to a traumatic event can present weeks, months or even years after the occurrence.

If your delayed injuries and symptoms present after you have accepted a personal injury settlement from the at-fault insurance carrier, an attorney most likely will be unable to obtain any additional recovery on your behalf. This is not the case when you have been provided a policy limits settlement through the liability insurer, have damages in excess of the applicable policy limits and have underinsured motorist coverage.

When evaluating injury claims, insurance adjusters question any gaps in treatment. It is our recommendation to always get checked out after being involved in a collision. Not all injuries have observable signs and symptoms and can be deadly. A trip to the emergency room or urgent care can provide you with peace of mind and identify any such ailments in time to make a difference.

Many serious injuries do not display subjective symptoms that can be seen by observers and often require specialized treatment such as cognitive and speech therapies and concussion rehabilitation. It is crucial to attend all arranged appointments and to follow your physician’s recommendations and instructions. Not showing up to appointments, delays in treatment and premature treatment stoppage before being deemed at maximum medical improvement can negatively affect your injury claim and limit your potential recovery.

Do not settle for less than you deserve. Kendall Law Group has the experience, reputation and finesse required to present complicated, serious personal injury claims to claims adjusters and advocate for a fair settlement. In the event an agreeable resolution cannot be reached, we have the willingness and resources needed to stand up to insurance companies in court. To our firm, you are an individual and your struggles, injuries and path to recovery are personal to us. If you or your loved one has been injured in a transportation collision, whether involving passenger vehicles, tractor-trailers (semis), other commercial vehicles, boats, motorcycles, ATVs/UTVs, or trains, give us a call for a free case evaluation.