How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?

Some car accidents are serious enough that victims sustain immediate, obvious injuries requiring emergency medical attention. More often, however, accident victims may not realize their injuries right away. The shock of the accident can initially mask the severity of your injuries, and some injuries may not even appear for hours, days, or even weeks.

It is unclear why some people may experience injury symptoms right away and others do not. But, in any case, studies have shown that specific injuries may take certain amounts of time to appear.

Types of Injuries That Can Take Time to Appear

Often, injuries appearing several hours after the car crash prompt victims to seek medical treatment. However, if it has been a few hours, days, or even weeks since the crash and you are just now noticing signs of injury but have not yet seen a doctor, make an appointment or go to the emergency room/nearest urgent care center right away. These injuries can be very serous and, in the worst cases, life-threatening.

Some injuries that may take time to appear after a car accident include:

  • Bruising: Bruises, or contusions, can take hours or days to appear. Bruises are usually mild and will typically heal on their own. However, severe bruising could indicate a more serious injury.
  • Internal Bleeding: Internal bleeding, also known as the “seatbelt syndrome,” can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days after a motor vehicle accident to appear.
  • Concussions: Concussion symptoms may take several hours, days, or even weeks to appear. Concussions are relatively mild brain injuries but should still be treated by a doctor.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash is a common neck injury sustained in motor vehicle accidents, but its symptoms may not appear for several days or weeks after a crash.
  • Neck and Back Injuries: Slipped or herniated discs, muscle strains, and other injuries to the neck and back may not appear for days or weeks following the accident.
  • Chronic Widespread Pain: Although chronic widespread pain is often immediately obvious, it can worsen significantly in the days, weeks, and even years after the initial collision.
  • Mental Health Conditions: Serious car accidents can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other debilitating mental health conditions, the symptoms of which may not appear for weeks, months, or even years.

Signs of a Delayed Car Accident Injury

If you were involved in a car accident, it is important that you are aware of the signs of a delayed injury so that you can seek prompt medical treatment should symptoms arise. The signs of a delayed car accident injury vary depending on the type of injury, and many symptoms of different injuries overlap, which can make it difficult to determine the exact injury you may have. It is important that you see a doctor right away if you notice any new or unusual bodily or mental health changes after an accident.

Some signs of a delayed injury after a car accident include:

  • Pain and soreness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness, especially in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • New or worsened headaches
  • Numbness in the arms, legs, fingers, or toes
  • Back pain
  • Exceptionally painful bruises
  • Difficulty moving, sitting, or standing
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks to the accident
  • Changes in mood or behavior, such as increased irritability, aggression, or depression

Never brush off new or worsening injuries as simply the expected result of a car accident; these symptoms and signs could indicate a more serious underlying issue. You should always see a medical professional and receive a proper diagnosis of your injuries after a motor vehicle collision.

We invite you to speak to a member of our legal team today during a free, no-obligation consultation. Contact us to get started!

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