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Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident

After a car accident, injuries may not fully present themselves. Sometimes there’s a delay following an accident and symptoms of an injury.

There are injuries like burns and lacerations that signal something’s wrong right away. But not all injuries are apparent at the scene of a car accident. There is only so much the naked eye can see, and when adrenaline is pumping through our veins, our ability to feel pain is stifled. Even though delayed injuries don’t present themselves immediately, they are often severe and they can last a lifetime.

Defining a Delayed Injury

Delayed injuries can take hours, days, or even weeks to become apparent. Delayed injuries may have symptoms that seem like a minor inconvenience at first when they’re actually the first sign of a serious problem. For instance, an injured driver with a headache could later discover a traumatic brain injury.

Types of Delayed Injuries

Soft Tissue Injuries

A car accident can twist and tear your muscles, tendons, and ligaments beyond their limits. Soft tissue strains and sprains can happen almost anywhere in the body, but whiplash in the neck and lower back sprains are especially common. Painful swelling may begin in the days that follow your accident. It’s possible to develop muscle spasms, numbness, loss of mobility, and muscle weakness. Some accident victims need physical therapy to treat soft tissue damage.


If you’ve taken a blow to the head, you might expect a concussion. However, your head doesn’t have to make contact with another object. When a car accident whips your head back and forth, the forceful movement can cause a concussion. If you have a concussion, you may experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and blurred vision, but symptoms can take up to 10 days to appear.

Internal Injuries

Blunt trauma and force can lead to ruptures, including spleen ruptures. Unlike a broken arm or leg, internal broken bones aren’t as easy to detect. They can damage other parts of the body. For instance, broken ribs can puncture the lungs.

Blunt trauma and sheer force are also powerful enough to crush and tear the organs and blood vessels within your body. When vessels and organs are damaged enough to leak blood, they can’t perform the life-sustaining functions they’re meant for. Internal bleeding is the number one cause of trauma-related death in the world. Bruises can be a sign that blood is seeping out and reaching your soft tissue and skin.

Spinal Cord Injuries

There are 62 nerves that branch out from the spinal cord and communicate with the rest of the body. That means when the spinal cord is injured in a car accident, you could feel the damage just about anywhere. That’s one reason spinal cord injuries may be detected later – the root of the pain in your legs, for instance, may actually be the spine. Damaged vertebral bones in your spine can pinch your spinal cord, or discs can move out of place and interfere with your nerves. Spinal cord injuries can also limit your range of motion and affect your balance. They may need to be managed with painkillers or surgery.

How Does a Delayed Injury Affect My Case?

Insurance companies look for any possible reason to minimize or deny a claim. Sometimes accident victims don’t seek medical treatment until the injury becomes noticeable. That opens the door for insurance companies to question the urgency and seriousness of a car accident injury. They may also claim that the injured person didn’t do everything possible to stop the injury from spreading. The at-fault driver’s insurance company might even say that your delayed injury happened because of a subsequent accident. The more blame they can shift away from themselves, the less they’ll have to pay you. Your attorney can investigate the facts of your case to connect the onset of your injuries to the car accident in question.

Don’t Settle Right Away

Expenses from a car accident are a source of stress. Getting a check in your hand quickly seems like a major relief, but it can actually cost you in the log run. When car accident victims settle quickly, they’re often settling for less than they’re entitled to. They add up the bills for their immediate medical treatment and prepare to accept an amount in that ballpark. However, determining how much you really need isn’t as simple as that. The costs can extend far beyond the first few weeks or months after an accident. For instance, 50 million Americans live with chronic pain. A study on neck pain and whiplash found that 37% of patients attributed their chronic pain to motor vehicle accidents. That’s just one of the many health conditions that may need to be managed with routine doctor’s appointments, medication, and other ongoing interventions.

Your car accident injury could prevent you from taking care of household responsibilities like cooking and cleaning, forcing you to pay for replacement services. Additionally, your recovery might keep you out of work longer than expected. Insurance companies know car accident victims may overlook these additional damages. That’s one reason they give lowball offers. Once you’ve agreed to a settlement, it’s almost impossible to get further compensation later. It’s best to have your attorney deal directly with the insurance company for you. Your attorney will fight for both your past and future medical expenses and lost wages as well as any other damages you’ve suffered because of your car accident injury.

Talk to a Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the attorneys of Jones Law Group can help you to recover the damages you’ve incurred. We take a comprehensive approach to evaluating evidence and medical records so that we can secure the most compensation possible for our clients. Contact us online or at 727-571-1333 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio