When you imagine a car accident, you most likely picture a catastrophe with injuries that are immediately obvious, such as victims who are bleeding or showing other visible signs of injury. However, in many car accidents, victims have a delayed onset of injuries. This is why it is important for crash victims to seek medical care without delay.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by car accidents is a concussion. Concussions can occur from a bump or blow to the head or skull that damages the brain. Concussions and other TBIs do not always show immediate symptoms. Many car accident victims do not notice dizziness, brain fog, trouble sleeping, mood changes and other symptoms of a concussion until hours or even days after a crash.
While concussions have a reputation for being “minor” brain injuries, this is not always the case. Concussions can be severe and cause long-term problems for a car accident survivor. The failure to diagnose a concussion right away can lead to a dangerous delay in injury treatment, as well as the risk of a second brain injury before the first has healed (second-impact syndrome). This is a brain injury complication that can be deadly.
Whiplash and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries
Whiplash is a neck injury to the soft tissues: the tendons, ligaments and muscles surrounding the uppermost portion of the spinal cord (the cervical spine). Whiplash can cause pain, stiffness and immobility in the neck and arms. Whiplash is caused by the violent “whipping” of a head back and forth in a car accident, resulting in a snapping motion of the neck that can injure the soft tissues. Pain and other whiplash symptoms may be suppressed by a victim’s adrenaline immediately after a crash but arise hours later.
Injuries to various parts of the back and spine, including the disks, vertebrae and soft tissues, may have delayed symptoms. If a car accident causes a disk in the spine to slip out of place, for example, the victim may not notice any pain from the herniated disk until the condition worsens and presses on surrounding nerves. Spinal fractures, dislocations and spinal stenosis are also common back injuries that have delayed symptoms. Muscle spasms, pain in the neck or back, numbness or tingling, and problems with balance could all point to a back injury after a car accident.
Internal injuries are often invisible. A car accident victim may suffer organ damage, severed arteries, internal bleeding, blood clots and hematomas without these injuries being easily apparent. A victim’s internal damage may not be noticeable until it has worsened to the point of causing major health complications, such as organ failure or hemorrhagic shock from a loss of blood. Sadly, undiagnosed internal injuries can prove fatal before they are discovered.
Physical injuries are not the only type of injury that can appear some time after a car accident. Survivors may also experience significant psychological damage without any initial symptoms. Emotional distress and mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder from a car accident can take days to become noticeable. A victim may experience fear, anxiety, depression, flashbacks, trouble sleeping and other signs of psychological trauma many weeks after a crash.
Seek medical care right away if you are involved in a car accident in Colorado. A doctor can diagnose injuries caused by the crash even before you notice symptoms. If you did not immediately see a doctor and experience a delayed onset of injuries, contact a Denver car accident attorney at Manning Law to discuss your legal rights and options. You may still be entitled to financial compensation.