Car accidents can be over in seconds. However, collisions are inherently traumatic events that can have life-altering consequences. Survivors may leave the crash site feeling strong, only to develop significant symptoms hours, days, or even weeks after the accident.
Car Accident Injuries Aren’t Always Obvious
Accident-related injuries don’t always present immediate symptoms. Under many circumstances, crash-related complaints could be masked by either of the following:
Shock is psychological, but it can have physical results, too. When a person goes into shock, they mentally distance themselves from a particularly traumatic event or situation. While in this state, a car crash survivor may experience lowered blood pressure, making it more difficult to recognize and assess otherwise grievous injuries.
Adrenaline is a hormone released when the body is excited or stressed. It’s closely related to the sympathetic nervous system's “fight-or-flight” response. When someone experiences an adrenaline rush, their adrenal system instructs their body to reroute blood to the muscles. Adrenaline, like shock, can temporarily hide significant injuries.
Common Accident-Related Delayed-Onset Injuries
Car accidents involve significant physical forces and can result in various major delayed-onset physical injuries, such as:
- Whiplash. This is a common delayed-onset injury caused by the forceful back-and-forth motion of the head and neck. It can produce a range of symptoms that affect the head, neck, shoulders, and other parts of the body. Whiplash-related symptoms usually disappear over time. However, in a minority of cases, they persist for years, becoming a chronic and untreatable condition.
- Back pain. Motor vehicle collisions can cause spinal injuries, herniated discs, and soft tissue damage in and around the back. Left untreated, back pain can become chronic, impeding survivors’ independence and complicating their ability to return to work.
- Neck pain. Delayed-onset injuries in this area often cause symptoms including stiffness, soreness, pain, and swelling. Some car accident victims with neck injuries could also experience cognitive difficulties.
- Headaches. A headache might be a mild inconvenience—or a warning sign. If a headache lingers, it could be an indication of a concussion, brain clot, or another form of traumatic brain injury.
- Numbness and tingling. Structural and muscular injuries frequently present unusual and unexpected symptoms, including inexplicable feelings of numbness or tingling, even if an injury isn’t immediately apparent.
Why Insurance Companies Don’t Like Delayed-Onset Injuries
Under Tennessee’s fault-based insurance system, car accident victims have the right to file a claim for compensation against the at-fault motorist and their insurance company.
However, since insurers are for-profit enterprises, they usually seize any excuse to devalue or deny a survivor’s settlement. In general, adjusters are skeptical of delayed-onset injuries, since conditions like whiplash cannot be proven through laboratory tests. They might try to derail your claim by:
- Asking you to provide a recorded statement, hoping you’ll contradict yourself or inadvertently accept blame for the accident.
- Demanding that you see another doctor, who might dismiss your complaints as unrelated.
- Refusing to negotiate, or even ignoring your phone calls and electronic messages.
The Importance of Receiving Prompt Medical Attention
You should always seek immediate medical attention after any car accident, even if you don’t believe you’re injured. A physician could help you:
- Identify potential injuries.
- Diagnose confirmed conditions.
- Treat or recommend treatment for delayed-onset injuries.
Obtaining the necessary compensation to afford high-quality medical care seems difficult, in large part because insurance carriers don’t always negotiate claims in good faith. By seeing a physician immediately, you protect your health and prevent an insurer from telling the court that you invented symptoms to obtain compensation.
How an Attorney Could Help You Overcome the Insurance Company’s Allegations
Weir & Kestner Injury Lawyers are committed to defending the rights of Tennessee car accident victims. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle collision that wasn’t your fault, we can investigate the causes of your crash and collect critical evidence to prove not only that your injuries are crash-related, but also how they’ve seriously impacted your life.Please send us a message online or call us at 615-220-4180 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.