What If My Car Accident Injuries Don’t Show Up Right Away?
Some car accident injuries are obvious right away. However, it is possible for car accidents to cause injuries with delayed or hidden symptoms that may not be immediately apparent. If you didn’t notice your car accident injuries for a few hours or days after your crash, you may still be entitled to financial compensation. It is important, however, to take certain steps to protect your right to recover.
Common Delayed Injuries
Adrenaline can hide injuries after an accident. Adrenaline is the hormone responsible for the “flight or fight” reaction. A car accident can flood the body with adrenaline, which may mask pain. Although any injury could potentially have delayed symptoms, certain injuries are more likely to lead to latent symptoms than others, including:
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Back injuries
- Herniated or slipped disks
- Brain injuries and concussions
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Look out for potential signs of an injury in the aftermath of a car accident, including headaches, fatigue, neck or shoulder pain, back pain, abdominal pain, numbness, or tingling. This may be a sign of an injury connected to the car accident, even if you don’t notice your symptoms right away.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
The possibility of delayed or hidden injuries is why it is so important to seek medical attention immediately after a car accident. Although you may feel fine, a physical exam or medical test, such as an x-ray, may find injuries that you do not yet feel. In some cases, these injuries can be extremely serious and require immediate medical attention. Delaying medical care because of hidden or delayed symptoms in these circumstances could be deadly.
One example is a head injury that causes slow bleeding or swelling in the brain. Although you may not notice symptoms of a traumatic brain injury right away, over time, the injury may cause severe symptoms, such as a seizure or loss of consciousness. By the time you notice symptoms of the injury, it may be too late for life-saving medical treatment. If you went to a hospital the day of your accident, however, a doctor could diagnose your brain injury and start treatment even before you notice symptoms.
Talk to a Lawyer Before Accepting a Settlement
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident in Los Angeles, don’t tell the responding police officer or an auto insurance company that you don’t have any injuries or that you feel fine until you have seen a doctor. Even if you don’t think you are injured, go to a hospital to make sure before you answer any questions about your physical state.
If you say you aren’t injured in an official statement, this can be used against you later to try to avoid paying for your accident-related injuries. The insurance company may try to position you as an unreliable witness, for instance, if you discover injuries later and change your statement. The insurer may also claim that your injuries were the result of a different accident, were pre-existing or do not exist at all. You will need medical evidence, such as your records, x-rays and a letter from your doctor, to prove your crash-related injuries. Finally, an insurance company may allege that you failed to mitigate your losses if you delayed medical care.
Speak to a Los Angeles car accident attorney before you accept a settlement from an insurance company. The settlement may devalue your losses, especially if you didn’t discover your injuries right away. The insurance company may try to assert that your injuries must not have been very serious, for instance, if you didn’t notice them immediately. A lawyer can help you negotiate with counteroffers, if necessary, until you receive an amount that is adequate based on the extent of your injuries.