It’s normal to feel shaky after a car accident, from the unexpected jolt of a rear-end collision or simply the commotion of a fender-bender. But as the shock wears off, you may feel OK, even relieved it wasn’t worse. You’ll probably be more concerned about the damage to your car.
Take the time to seek medical care (or to make sure that a loved one does). There could be hidden injuries such as a fracture or internal bleeding or concussion. It is also important to establish a doctor’s report that clearly ties any injuries to the car accident.
Different reactions, delayed reactions
Every person responds in different ways to a crash. Many people will refuse an ambulance or promise to seek medical attention … but then fail to follow up. That person may be in shock (an actual medical condition) or dazed from a concussion (an actual medical condition). Or they may honestly think they aren’t injured or their injuries are too minor to see a doctor.
Many injuries are not felt or noticed until later, after the adrenaline is gone and nervous system returns to normal. Any of these symptoms should be checked out immediately:
- Sharp pain in your limbs or joints
- Deep cuts or bruises, especially to the head or face
- Vomiting or severe headache
- Blurred vision, ringing in the ears
- Stiff neck or neck pain
- Abdominal pain or anything else that “doesn’t feel right”
These symptoms may resolve on their own, but it is better to get a medical evaluation and rule them out. If there is an injury, it is important to have medical records of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Car accidents can cause post-traumatic stress
Did you know that it is common for car crash survivors to experience post-traumatic stress disorder? It’s not something that only happens to soldiers or sexual assault victims. People who have PTSD may suffer from recurring memories of the accident and accompanying symptoms – flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety. Children are especially prone to developing PTSD following a car crash. Crash victims may need psychological counseling, medications and other treatments.
Brain injury can occur without direct head trauma
Traumatic brain injury is one of the most serious injuries in car crashes. TBI is often overlooked when victims have broken bones or other acute injuries. Brain injury can occur from striking the head on the steering wheel, windshield or seat back. It can occur from being hit in the face or side of the head by air bags.
Often, TBI occurs in car accidents without any direct trauma to the head. The whipsaw action of the neck snapping forward or backward at impact can cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull (contrecoup injury).
Symptoms of concussion/brain injury include chronic headache, dizziness or vertigo, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, “foggy” feeling, dilated pupil(s), problems with vision or hearing, problems with balance or walking, and uncharacteristic outbursts, mood swings or personality change. Early diagnosis is important, as untreated brain injury can delay recovery or cause further damage.
Medical records can make or break an injury claim
When you develop medical problems as the victim of a car crash, you are entitled to compensation to cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, including future treatment. A personal injury attorney experienced with vehicle accident cases will tell you that this is where a doctor’s report and follow-up treatment becomes so important.
Whether an auto accident victim suffers a shoulder injury that heals quickly or a traumatic brain injury that changes life forever, a good attorney will use those medical records to ensure their client receives full financial compensation.