How Long Do You Have for Symptoms to Show Up After a Florida Car Accident?

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.

Physical 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.
  • Headaches. Many car accident victims develop headaches days or weeks after a collision. Although a headache may seem like no big deal, it can be a sign of a serious problem, especially when spells of dizziness accompany it. A headache can be a symptom of a blood clot, neck or head injury, or traumatic brain injury.
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain. In most cases, neck and shoulder pain is a sign of whiplash, which is one of the most common injuries that arises during car accidents. It can lead to stiffness around your head and make it uncomfortable for you to move it. While you may experience this type of pain right after the crash, these symptoms often take a few days to set in.
  • Back Pain. Back pain isn’t always apparent following a car accident. If you start to face it days afterward, you may have whiplash, a spinal injury, soft tissue injury, or a herniated disc. You may also have a pinched nerve if your back feels numb or tingly. These conditions can lead to mobility challenges and debilitating pain that affects your everyday life.

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. By seeing a doctor after a crash, you can find out whether you have any symptoms that may not be obvious, receive medical documentation to support your case, and begin a treatment plan so you can recover as soon as possible.

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.

Whiplash Can Often be Delayed

Whiplash, or neck sprains and strains, are the most common injuries for insurance claims in the U.S. Car accidents are the leading cause of whiplash injuries, as the forces in the accident can “whip” the head and neck forward and backward in quick succession, straining the muscles and soft tissues in the neck. Serious whiplash injuries can cause long-term nerve damage, rupture the neck’s ligaments, and even fracture the uppermost vertebrae. You could suffer chronic, lifelong pain from a whiplash injury – or one of these other surprising outcomes.

The adrenaline from your accident can conceal the fact that you suffered a painful neck or back injury. Whiplash can cause delayed symptoms, not appearing for hours or even days after the collision. Often, whiplash starts to appear several hours after the crash and then grows worse over the next 48 hours. It’s important to refrain from saying that you didn’t suffer an injury in an accident – especially a rear-end collision – until you’ve seen a doctor to make sure. Saying you don’t have an injury and then discovering one later can make it more difficult to prove your insurance claim.

Dizziness and/or Fatigue

It comes as a surprise for many people to find that neck pain isn’t the only potential symptom of whiplash. While pain in the neck, shoulders, back, and arms is the most common symptom, other people have reported signs such as dizziness or vertigo, fatigue or difficulty sleeping, headaches, memory loss, problems concentrating, burning or prickling sensations, tingling or numbness, throat problems, speech issues, hearing loss, blurred vision, nervousness, irritability, and depression. If you notice anything out of the ordinary after a crash, see a doctor.

Emotional Trauma

Physical injuries and emotional trauma have a close connection. Physical pain, taxing medical procedures, and the sudden inability to do things you’ve always done, such as drive or go to work, can leave you feeling depressed and withdrawn. Frightening accidents such as car crashes can lend additional psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or nightmares. The emotional roller coaster after an injury can last for years after you physically recover. The more you know about the mental aftereffects of an injury, the better you can prepare yourself and know when to seek professional help.

Lost Quality of Life

Some of the greatest mental health effects of a serious injury stem from the sudden loss of the quality of life the victim previously enjoyed. A person with a traumatic spine injury, for example, can find him/herself unable to do most of what he/she did before, including walk, play sports, work, eat, and even talk. The inability to participate in everyday life activities such as socializing with friends can lead to the victim withdrawing from him/herself, worsening mental health issues such as depression.

Post-injury mental health can be in a fragile state for a multitude of reasons. Not only does the individual have to adjust to a new level of ability or disability, but there are also problems to deal with such as mounting medical bills. Fear of financial stability and the future can add to feelings of depression or anxiety after a serious injury. In just a matter of minutes, the victim’s entire life has changed. This can understandably take a mental adjustment period and/or professional aid.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a serious mental health condition that can develop after a victim has experienced a life-threatening event. Soldiers who return home from war zones, for example, can experience PTSD from the traumatic and terrifying things they witnessed. The same is true for victims of extreme car accidents, falls, burns, dog attacks, or acts of violence. Suffering serious injuries in traumatic ways can deeply affect the mental state, resulting in long-lasting psychological aftereffects. Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the event in flashbacks or nightmares
  • Avoiding things that remind the victim of the event
  • Constant feelings of anxiety
  • Feeling emotionally numb or detached
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability or sudden mood swings/outbursts
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies
  • Detachment from family and friends

PTSD is a serious mental health condition that can plunge a person into a deep depression, cause suicidal thoughts, and even result in taking one’s own life. Coupled with depression and anxiety, PTSD can be deadly. It’s extremely important to seek professional help for your mental state after a catastrophic or permanent injury.

The Severity of Impact Isn’t as Important as You Think

It’s logical to assume that a rear-end collision at a higher speed of impact would cause a more severe whiplash injury; however, this is not necessarily the case. Even “minor” fender benders at just 2.5 miles per hour have caused symptoms of whiplash injuries. The severity of injury instead depends on other factors, such as the victim’s health and use of proper restraints, such as a seatbelt and headrest. Neck injuries can happen in any type of car accident, not just high-speed collisions.

Seek Help from a Professional

Accident victims often feel alone in their fights, as if no one understands them or could help. However, others have the same or similar injuries, and trained professionals are available to help with drastic life changes due to accidents. Talking to someone about your emotional ride after an injury can make all the difference in your future happiness and enjoyment of life.

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Every day that goes by costs you more.
Let us help put a stop to that. Contact us today for a free consultation.

In addition to a free consultation, we’ll help cover the cost of your car repairs and provide you with a rental at no cost to you. We’ll put a hold on your medical bills to stop them from piling up on the kitchen table. And most importantly, we’ll find those at fault for your car accident injury and make them pay for the damages lost. Call a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer today to maximize the potential of your case.