About 2.3 million people are injured in traffic accidents in the United States each year, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The actual number may be far greater, however, when you consider hidden or delayed injuries. These may not be reported at first—or at all.
What do we mean by a “hidden” car accident injury? We’re referring to some type of trauma that is experienced as a result of an auto accident and yet does not immediately present itself. These delayed-onset injuries can be life-altering, affecting one’s ability to work and perform normal, day-to-day activities.
Even a relatively minor car accident can cause serious injuries. Understanding what to look for in these hidden types of trauma can help you make the right choices after a crash.
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. It is also one of the most difficult to diagnose and treat. Whiplash happens when the force of impact in a collision causes the head to jerk back and forth, damaging the soft tissue in the neck. Symptoms of whiplash include pain and stiffness in the neck, headaches, and limited range of motion. When whiplash is severe, it will inhibit a person’s ability to work and perform physical activities. A person who has experienced whiplash may not realize it for days or even weeks, classifying this as one of our most common hidden car accident injuries.
The impact of a car crash can be so extreme that it causes one or more discs in your spinal cord to bulge or herniate. This puts pressure on the spinal nerves and can cause excruciating pain. It can even cause numbness in the arms and legs. Symptoms may not show up right away, sometimes taking days, weeks, or months to become apparent.
The sudden force of a car accident can cause a concussion or other traumatic brain injury when the head collides with the car window, steering wheel, or airbag. In some rare cases, a concussion can occur even though the head does not strike anything. The force of the brain colliding with the inside of the skull can cause damage that affects many aspects of a person’s life. Concussions can cause headaches, nausea, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, and a host of other problems. Unfortunately, concussions can go undiagnosed if a victim does not seek treatment right after an accident.
Knee & Shoulder Injuries
Your knee or shoulder may be seriously damaged in a crash. Knees are often injured when they come into contact with the dashboard, and shoulders are injured when the body slams against the seat belt. Both of these injuries can make working and performing daily activities painful—or impossible. It can be hard to sleep. Some pain may be present right after an accident, but without a visible injury, a victim may dismiss it and choose not to see a doctor. This can have serious consequences, as the injury may only worsen over time.
Car accidents are traumatizing experiences—and not just physically. They can cause lasting emotional scars that affect your life in various ways. Car accident victims may experience anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). We consider these psychological injuries as hidden car accident injuries because they can take time to present themselves. The immediate shock of a crash can hide or disguise deeper feelings of anxiety and fear. Victims can start to experience nightmares, insomnia, stress, and depression. These feelings are just as real as any physical injuries and should be addressed.
Always See a Doctor
The best way to protect your health after an auto accident is to see a doctor as soon as possible—even if you feel you were not seriously injured. You could have suffered whiplash or another injury without even knowing it, and you could be in danger of making the injury worse if you don’t seek treatment. See a doctor as soon as you can and let them know that you were involved in a traffic accident. They’ll know what injuries to look for.
Talk to a Prince George’s County Car Accident Attorney
The worst thing you can do after a car accident is to try to “brush it off” and continue on with your life without seeing a doctor. Pay attention to your body and any symptoms that you may be experiencing. Talk to a doctor and follow their treatment plan so you can protect your health. When you can, talk to an attorney about your legal options. Medical care can be expensive, but this is not a reason to avoid getting the help you need. The person who caused your accident should be responsible for paying your medical bills—and any other losses you’ve experienced. An attorney can help you pursue the compensation that’s rightfully yours.
At Gracia & Mintz, we represent clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. who have been injured through no fault of their own. Our Prince George’s County car accident lawyers know how to deal with insurance companies and will fight for what our clients need to rebuild and move on with their lives.
For a free, confidential consultation, call (301) 842-8584. We’re here to help.