It's not uncommon for symptoms to be delayed after a car accident. But problems popping up after you've left the accident scene may negatively impact your insurance claim.
Let's say you're driving peacefully along and suddenly - bam. Another car runs into you.
As the reality of the situation starts to set in, you quickly start taking inventory:
- Passengers...they're ok
- Car...in need of a new bumper
- Yourself...well, you feel fine
Maybe you're just grateful the baby in the backseat is okay. Maybe you're relieved the damage to your vehicle isn't worse. Maybe you're just a nice person, it doesn't hurt very much, and you feel like seeking medical treatment would be excessive.
So (for whatever reason), you skip out on medical treatment. Or you do talk to a doctor, but don't report every little aching joint.
But a few days later, when your body is no longer hyped up on adrenaline, you start to feel it. A burning, growing pain in your neck or back that makes every movement difficult and it just keeps getting worse.
Can you still receive compensation?
The answer is a big fat "maybe."
Reporting an injury late can have significant and long-reaching affects on your insurance claim - especially if you initially told a police officer, insurance adjuster or doctor that you're fine.
Insurance adjusters may become suspicious of your claim, take your injury less seriously or even deny your claim. But that doesn't mean you aren't entitled to compensation.
A qualified car accident lawyer may be able to help you to salvage your claim by gathering evidence to support your case, conferring with experts, and appealing on your behalf.
Common "late" car accident injuries
After a shocking incident (such as a car accident), your body begins producing hormones which can mask pain and other injury symptoms.
Here are some common types of car accident injuries that tend to have delayed symptoms:
1) Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue refers to the tissues in the body that connect, support or surround other structures or organs that are not bones, such as tendons, ligaments and muscles.
When these soft tissues are overstretched or torn, during the trauma of an accident, they may only feel mildly sore at first. Or you may not notice them at all, especially if you're dealing with more serious injuries at the same time.
However, if left untreated, these injuries can turn into debilitating, chronic conditions as scar tissue builds up or your body begins to compensate in unhealthy ways - such as changing your posture, which could result in other areas being affected.
A few common types of soft tissue injuries are:
- TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction)
- Plantar fasitis
- Carpal Tunnel
- Bulging or herniated disc
Treatment for soft tissue injuries may include physical therapy, chiropractic care and rest.
According to the book, Motor Vehicle Collision Injuries, "there is only a four to six week window for the clinician to benefit the active stage of wound healing" (pg. 217).
So it's important to talk to your doctor as soon as you begin to notice a problem.
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that occur when the brain hits the inside of your skull - as the result of a blow to the head (such as your head hitting the steering wheel) or a sudden stop where your brain keeps moving inside your skull.
Since the injury is not usually visible, these injuries often go unnoticed at first - especially since one of the indicators is erratic behavior and if you've just been hit by another vehicle, your behavior may be anything but typical.
However, headaches, trouble with balance or vision, nausea or any type of disorientation or mood swings may appear hours later.
These injuries can be very serious. So if you have any concussion-like symptoms following a car accident, you should seek medical treatment immediately.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, half of all traumatic brain injury victims received their injuries in automobile accidents.
How to strengthen your claim
If you've been in a car accident, here are some ways you may be able to make your claim stronger:
- Seek medical attention as soon as symptoms begin appearing. Even if the pain is mild initially, it may worsen and have other lasting effects.
- Be as forthcoming as possible with your doctor
- Take notes on your symptoms, so you don't leave anything out when speaking with your doctor
- Keep good records and document everything
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney
At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we've literally helped thousands of people who were injured in car accidents in North Carolina. If you were injured in an accident and your injuries appeared later, you may need to speak with an attorney ASAP.
Call us for a free case evaluation today at 1-866-900-7078.