Legal Blog

Delayed Symptoms: Surprise Injuries After an Accident

Attorney David I. Fuchs


Attorney David I. Fuchs


Mar. 24, 2018


Personal Injury

Minutes after you get into a car crash, the other driver asks if you’re okay. You nod your head yes since you don’t feel pain or tenderness anywhere. When police arrive, you give the same answer for the official report – no, you don’t have any injuries. You go to work the same day, only to leave early with a severe headache. You visit the hospital and discover you have a serious concussion. Since you said you didn’t have any injuries, it might now be more difficult to convince an insurance company of your damages. Learn about injuries with delayed symptoms to better protect your health and financial future after a collision.

Injuries that Commonly Experience Delayed Onset

“Delayed onset” of an injury means that it doesn’t show any symptoms or visible signs of damage right away. Instead, the damage occurs quietly and often without notice on the inside, at least for a while. Depending on the nature of the injury, delayed onset can cause serious damage to the victim even notices the injury. Internal bleeding, for example, can be life-threatening if left undiscovered Prompt medical attention is critical to catch and treat hidden injuries. The most common injury types with delayed symptoms are as follows:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) cause 153 deaths each day in the U.S. The most common type of TBI is a concussion. Minor and major TBIs can have delayed symptoms that don’t appear for hours or even days after impact. Headaches, dizziness, mood swings, and problems sleeping can all indicate a concussion.
  • Whiplash is the number one most common complaint on insurance claims in America. Rear-end collisions frequently result in whiplash or damage to the muscles in the neck and upper back. Whiplash can have delayed onset, where muscle soreness or stiffness is not noticeable until 24 to 48 hours after the wreck.
  • Slipped disc or other spinal cord injuries. The adrenaline of an accident might conceal that fact that you suffered a painful back injury, such as a slipped disc, torn ligament, or nerve damage. Once the adrenaline wears off, however, you might notice back pain and need to go to the hospital.
  • Abdominal injuries. Go to the doctor immediately if you notice strange or painful abdominal symptoms hours after an accident. Abdominal pain, swelling, or bruising could point to a hidden internal injury. Dizziness and fainting may also represent delayed symptoms of internal damage.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotional injuries might not set in until long after the accident when something triggers a PTSD response. Watch for personality changes, depression, anxiety, fear, trouble sleeping, and extra alertness, such as the constant fear that something bad will happen.

It’s extremely important to take yourself to the hospital after an accident of any kind even if you don’t feel injured. Medical tests and x-rays can make sure you don’t have any delayed onset injuries causing hidden damage. Taking care of your health and well-being immediately after a car crash or other incident can significantly boost your prognosis for a full recovery, as well as your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.

Go to the hospital right away to avoid any unwelcome “surprise” injuries.