Following an automobile crash, you might face devastating repercussions, including significant injuries, excruciating pain, and ongoing medical care you may rely on for the rest of your life. As post-accident soreness lingers, most people begin to worry. You may find yourself wondering whether you have suffered normal soreness or if you sustained more severe injuries than you initially thought, especially if that soreness does not seem to fade as more time passes.
Yet, regardless of the injuries you suffered, if you have been involved in an automobile collision due to another person’s wrongful actions, you deserve legal help and justice for the injuries and losses you sustained.
How Long Will the Pain Last?
After your car accident, in general, expect soreness to linger for up to six weeks. Normal pain after a car accident usually includes minor soreness. Commonly, car accident victims experience pain in the neck or back. Even minor whiplash can linger for weeks, making it difficult for you to turn your head or move your neck into certain positions.
Many minor injuries can often heal in six to eight weeks after the initial accident. For example, with proper treatment, broken bones can heal in six to eight weeks following an accident, though some symptoms can linger after that point. Likewise, after mild to moderate sprains and strains, you can expect an average six to eight-week healing period.
Although the severity of your injuries will depend on the circumstances of the accident, on average, many people feel sore for up to six weeks following a minor car crash. Each person and accident is different, however, and some recoveries may take far longer. The time you need to heal is dependent on numerous factors, including the damage you sustained and the diagnosis from your physician.
When to See a Doctor About Your Pain
Ideally, you should see a doctor immediately after your car accident, even if you do not think you suffered serious injuries.
Your body goes through a great deal of trauma in a car accident. Sometimes, you may not even realize the severity of your injuries until well after the accident itself. Adrenaline can camouflage those injuries. You may even write signs of serious injury off as “normal soreness” after the accident.
An immediate visit to a doctor, whether you visit an emergency room or urgent care center, can help you identify any potential injuries and make sure that you have a care plan that will help you get the treatment you need.
On the other hand, sometimes, you may genuinely think that you did not sustain severe injuries in the accident. It’s your call whether to wait to seek treatment, but if you have any of these signs and symptoms, you should see a doctor for a full evaluation:
1. You Have A Headache That Will Not Go Away.
Tension in your shoulder and neck muscles can lead to a headache. If that headache does not go away after the accident, however, it could indicate a sign of traumatic brain injury, which could have serious repercussions.
2. You Experience Sharp Pain.
If you suffer from sharp pain in the aftermath of your accident, especially new, sharp pain, you should have a doctor check things out. Sometimes, you may not notice the pain of a severe injury, including broken bones, until they shift to a new position. Those sharp pains could serve as the first indication you have that you sustained a more severe injury than you initially thought.
3. You Suffer Weakness In Your Extremities.
If you experience weakness in your arms or legs, get to your doctor as soon as possible. Weakness in your extremities could indicate that you suffered a spinal cord injury or other serious injury in your accident. If you notice weakness getting worse with time, go to the emergency room immediately.
4. Your Pain Seems to Get Worse, Rather Than Better.
Soreness after the accident should steadily resolve. While some days may feel better than others, and you may notice more general energy and mobility on some days depending on your activity levels and how much attention you pay to the strategies that will help reduce your pain, if you notice your pain getting worse instead of better, it could indicate a serious injury. Instead of ignoring your pain, see a doctor before it continues to get worse.
5. Your Pain Does Not Resolve.
If you notice that your pain has not gotten better, it could indicate that you sustained a more serious injury in the initial accident than you thought. Some people have a higher pain tolerance than others. In other cases, that minor soreness after a car accident could indicate a serious injury. See your doctor if your pain does not resolve after the accident.
6. You Experience Any Symptoms of Confusion or Disorientation.
The immediate adrenaline rush from an accident can leave you feeling confused and unsteady, but those symptoms should resolve relatively quickly. If you feel that confusion getting worse, or if you notice confusion and disorientation that crop up after you have left the scene of the accident, it could serve as a sign of traumatic brain injury, and you should seek treatment as soon as possible.
7. You Have Problems With Your Vision or Hearing.
Vision or hearing problems do not commonly occur after car accidents except in people who have sustained considerable injuries, often including traumatic brain injury. If you notice problems with your vision or hearing, including blurred vision, tunnel vision, or ringing in your ears, make sure you see a medical professional as soon as possible.
8. You Have Abdominal or Chest Pain.
If you experience pain in the abdomen or chest, it could indicate that you suffered severe trauma to those areas and could occur due to internal bleeding or organ trauma. If you struck the steering wheel in your accident, you may have bruised your chest or abdomen. That bruising could cover more severe injuries and should receive immediate medical attention.
9. You Find Yourself Growing Increasingly Drowsy.
Some tiredness after an accident usually just indicates your body’s effort to heal itself. You may need more rest than usual, especially if you have other responsibilities that you must take care of in the aftermath of the accident.
However, if you notice yourself struggling with ongoing drowsiness, including having a hard time staying awake while engaged in other tasks, or if others note trouble waking you from naps or in the morning, see your doctor. Extreme fatigue could suggest traumatic brain injury.
Possible Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
A motor vehicle collision can result in crippling injuries to almost every part of your body. Yet, even though these injuries can vary in type and severity depending on the circumstances of the accident, some of the more common injuries that many people suffer after a car crash include:
A Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury usually results from a jolt or a violent blow to the head or the body or when an object penetrates the brain tissue. TBIs vary in severity and diagnosis but any physical damage to your brain can lead to long-term complications and even death.
A Spinal Cord Injury
These spinal cord injuries result from damage to the ligaments, discs, or vertebrae of the spinal column or the cord itself. The injuries often occur from a traumatic blow that dislocates, crushes, fractures, or compresses one or more vertebrae and can result in a permanent loss of sensation, function, and strength below the injury site.
Although assistive devices and rehabilitation can allow some individuals with this injury to lead independent and productive lives, there is no cure for this injury.
A Broken Bone
Following an automobile car crash, it is common to suffer a broken ankle, arm, rib, leg, and wrist. The main symptom of these injuries is often pain, but there may also be a loss of function depending on the affected bones.
Treatment of this injury usually involves immobilizing the broken bone in a cast or a splint, allowing the bone to heal, or surgery where physicians insert metal rods to reset the bone.
An Internal Organ Injury
If the motor vehicle crash causes your body to slam into another object or flying parts and debris hit your body, you can end up suffering an internal organ injury. Generally, liver lacerations, spleen injuries, and kidney damage are the more common internal organ injuries and often require surgery to ensure the organs remain stable. Yet, even with proper treatment, these injuries can still lead to various health issues and death.
A Back Injury
Back injuries frequently happen after a motor vehicle collision and often include strains, sprains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae. Symptoms of a back injury can consist of serious and chronic pain, muscle weakness, and even the inability to perform everyday routine activities.
A Soft Tissue Injury
In general, soft tissue injuries tend to include contusions, strains, and sprains. Even though most of these injuries heal with time and proper medical treatments, they can still end up causing you various issues that can last for the rest of your life, including problems with pain and mobility.
Actions to Take After a Motor Vehicle Accident
Following a car crash, you need to take action. Although the situation can feel overwhelming and stressful, you need to realize that the steps you take after this collision can not only help keep you safe but also protect your legal rights. For these reasons, after your accident, you should consider the following:
Contact 911 Immediately After Your Collision
You need to call 911 right after your car accident. This is the fastest way to get your accident on record and notify medical personnel that you or another person at the crash scene needs emergency medical attention.
In addition, when the police get to the scene, they will investigate your accident and write down their findings in their police report. If you decide to pursue an injury claim, this report can provide you with helpful information regarding the crash, such as what happened and who was at fault.
Gather Evidence From the Car Crash Scene
If the scene is safe and you are able, try to collect as much evidence from the area as possible. This should include videos and photos of your visible injuries, the cars involved in the crash, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, any skid marks on the road, traffic signs near the crash scene, and any other evidence that can help show what happened.
Get Information From the Other Drivers
Try to exchange personal details with the other drivers involved in the accident, including names, driver’s license numbers, contact details, and insurance information.
Find Witnesses and Get Their Information
If there were witnesses at the scene who saw what happened, get their name and contact details. Witness statements can often provide you with valuable information regarding the accident and even help back up your claims. However, if you are not able to get this information, do not worry. Your car accident lawyer can work on obtaining this testimony and information for you.
See Your Doctor, Even if You Do Not Think You Need To
Even if you believe your injuries are minor following the accident, you still need to get to a doctor as soon as you can. More times than not, serious injuries such as brain and head trauma can take days to even weeks to show up. Yet, if you delay getting treatment, the more serious and fatal these injuries can become. That is why it is best to head to a doctor as soon as possible after your motor vehicle collision.
In addition, getting this prompt medical treatment can also help your claim. Insurance companies are looking for any reason to deny your case or pay you less than you deserve. By delaying medical treatment, it allows the insurance company the opportunity to argue that your injuries are not that serious or result from a subsequent event. However, when you get checked over by your doctor shortly after your collision, these medical care professionals can document their evaluation of your injuries in their medical report, providing you with evidence of a direct connection between the car crash and the harm you endured.
Make Sure You Watch What You Say
As you talk to others at the scene, you need to watch what you say. Do not make any definitive statements regarding what happened, apologize for anything that occurred, or take the blame for any part of the incident. This is because these types of accounts can come back and hurt your claim, affecting the amount of money you can receive.
Speak to a Lawyer Before Talking to the Insurance Company About the Accident
Remember that the insurance company is not your friend. They are a business that wants to make money. By paying you less for your injuries, the more profit they make. For these reasons, before speaking with an insurance adjuster, you need to think about how these conversations will affect your claim. Reach out to skilled car accident lawyers before talking to the insurer.
Your attorney can not only help prepare you on what you should and should not discuss with these adjusters, but they can also take over these conversations with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure that you do not say anything that can hurt your case.
Compensation Available After a Motor Vehicle Accident
If you suffered injuries in a car accident because of another person’s wrongful, negligent, or reckless actions, you may be entitled to financial recovery. This compensation often includes the following damages:
Economic Damages: These damages refer to the measurable losses that an individual suffers after an accident.
- Medical expenses including the past, present, and future medical costs such as doctor visits, the need for assistive medical devices, emergency room visits, hospital stay, prescription medications, and surgeries
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Personal property damages
- Rehabilitative therapy expenses, including physical and occupational therapy
- At-home nursing care expenses
- Household replacement services expenses such as child care help, cleaning services, and even grocery shopping assistance
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic Damages: These damages refer to the subjective losses that result from an accident.
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a limb
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of consortium
Punitive Damages: In addition, you may seek punitive following your accident. However, unlike compensatory damages, which compensate the victim for their losses, punitive damages correct the defendant’s actions.
Typically, courts only award punitive damages when the court wants to punish the defendant for their egregious actions and deter others from committing this act. But, before you can obtain these damages, your lawyer needs to show through clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions were intentional or grossly negligent.
Prioritize the Legal Help You Need After a Car Accident
If a car accident harmed you, you need to see your doctor. These medical professionals can properly examine you, figure out what is wrong, and determine what type of treatment is best under the circumstances. If you continue to experience pain and other medical issues following the treatments, you will need to head back to your doctor or consider getting a second opinion so that you can figure out what to do for you to start feeling better.
After your accident, you have a lot of things to deal with, including managing your healing. An experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate a car accident claim, whether you noticed symptoms of serious injury immediately after the accident or discovered your injuries days or weeks after the initial accident.
If a car accident’s injuries disrupted your life or the life of a family member, do not wait any longer to get the legal help you need.