Motor Vehicle Accidents Law

Common Delayed Symptoms After a Car Accident

A car accident is a traumatic event. In the immediate aftermath there is stress, adrenaline, and confusion. Even serious injuries can be hard to spot right away. Pain can take a backseat during the body's "flight or fight" response to high-stress and dangerous situations. Hours or even days after the accident, when you've had time to calm down, injuries may become apparent.

A car accident can also lead to long-term injuries that worsen over days or even weeks. Many car accident injuries can take time to develop. A traumatic brain injury, for example, may not be symptomatic until weeks after the accident. Neck and back pain that seems minor at first can turn out to be a serious or even life-altering injury.

Below are several delayed injuries that can occur in a car accident. Do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below, as some injuries can worsen without treatment. It is also a bad idea to diagnose yourself, even if at first you thought the symptoms were minor. Only a doctor can give you a medical diagnosis after examining you and discussing all the symptoms you are experiencing.

Even if you did not seek immediate medical attention after an accident, you may still be able to get compensation for the medical treatment you received. You do not need to be rushed to the hospital right away after an accident to get help from your insurance company for any injuries you suffered in the accident.

Abdominal Injuries

Pain in your stomach area after a car accident can mean internal soft tissue injuries and should not be ignored. In serious cases, abdominal pain can mean internal bleeding, which requires immediate medical care. Large bruising may accompany this type of injury, as can dizziness. This type of injury is often apparent hours or days after an accident. Other symptoms of internal bleeding can be weakness, numbness, or dizziness.


As you might expect, headaches can result from a serious traumatic brain injury, in addition to concussions, whiplash, and even a blood clot. Unfortunately, head injuries can be difficult to diagnose, and symptoms do not always appear right away. You may not realize the extent of your injury even several weeks after a car accident. Dizziness may also accompany a head injury and can similarly indicate you received a concussion or whiplash.

Because head injuries are hard to diagnose, and symptoms can vary, it is important to get treatment for any concerning symptoms. If you hit your head in a car accident or were involved in a high-speed collision and are experiencing confusion, memory loss, a change in mood or behavior, or headaches, you should consult with your doctor to get a potential diagnosis and treatment options.

Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain

Back, neck, and shoulder pain are common symptoms of whiplash. Whiplash results from a rapid neck movement that can cause injury to bones in your spine as well as strain on the ligaments, muscles, and other tissues in your neck. Particularly in a high-speed crash, there is a risk that the pain and symptoms of whiplash can linger for months or years afterward.

Back pain, particularly severe back pain or pain that worsens over time, can indicate a spinal cord injury. Anytime you are dealing with a back injury, the risks to your health can be serious, so any lingering pain or pain that seems to be worsening over time should be checked out as soon as possible.


Numbness in the wake of a car accident could indicate a number of possible injuries. It could be a head injury, whiplash, spinal cord injury, or internal bleeding. Often, however, numbness or tingling can indicate a herniated disc (slipped disc) or a pinched nerve. Because it can be difficult to know what is causing your numbness, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after experiencing numbness to get a diagnosis.

What to Do if You Need To Go to the Hospital

It is tempting to dismiss symptoms if they appear gradually after a car accident. Yet serious injuries can take a while to develop symptoms. If you are experiencing pain, discomfort, or other worrying symptoms weeks after an accident, still seek medical treatment, mention you were in a car accident, and provide whatever details you can remember about potential causes of injury. This may help your medical provider diagnose your injuries.

Communicate With Your Boss

If your symptoms cause you to miss work, make sure to be in regular communication with your employer. If you miss work due to injuries suffered in a car accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for the time you missed.

Dealing With Your Insurance Company

You should be in contact with your insurance company after an accident. However, do not agree to anything before speaking with an attorney. As discussed above, many serious injuries take time to develop or are not apparent right away. If the full extent of your injuries is not clear in the immediate aftermath of an accident, you may not be able to get the financial help you need to get proper medical treatment.

That is why it is often beneficial to contact an attorney who can help you document your injuries and calculate the actual physical, emotional and financial harm you have suffered in a car crash. Your attorney can then aggressively pursue fair compensation from your insurer.