When you’re in a car accident, the first thing you’re likely to do once the shock wears off is check yourself for injuries. If you’re not in pain and don’t see anything worse than a few bruises and scrapes, you may decide to call a tow truck, get a ride home, and notify your insurer about the vehicle damage, all the while counting yourself lucky.
While some auto collisions in Kalamazoo, Michigan are comparatively minor, you may not be out of the woods health-wise. Car accidents are notorious for causing so-called hidden injuries. Symptoms may not show up immediately, or they may come in a form that you think you can shake off easily, such as a headache or sore muscles.
Such optimism may be premature. After a traumatic experience like a car accident, adrenaline starts pumping through your body. While adrenaline helps to trigger flight or fight reflexes, it can also mask pain and other symptoms of hidden injuries. Consequently, symptoms of a car accident injury may not appear until hours or even days after the incident.
For this reason, you should always get checked out by a doctor as a precaution, as you may be more injured than you think. In this blog, the Kalamazoo Michigan car accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office highlight 5 common hidden injuries after a car accident, so you know what to potentially look for if it happens to you.
A whiplash injury is caused by rapid, forceful movements of the neck, similar to a whip cracking. In an auto accident context, it can occur when a sudden jolt throws your head back and forth. This condition, known in medical terms as hyperextension of the neck, is one of the most common injuries in a rear-end collision.
People suffering from whiplash may feel a little discomfort in the head and neck, but nothing worse, making it a hidden injury. Others, however, may be in constant pain and experience a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Dizziness and fatigue
- A tingling or numb sensation in the arm and hand
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Lower back pain
- Concentration or memory problems
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
Symptoms of neck injuries can last for weeks, months, or even years. In order to recover, you may need medical treatment, physical therapy, and pain management, all of which can be covered in a compensation claim.
The term concussion refers to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a hard blow or jolt to the head. The force slams the brain against the skull’s inner wall, causing negative biochemical changes to occur within the brain. While concussions are generally not dangerous, repeated episodes may cause swelling of the brain, permanent brain damage, and even death.
Common symptoms of concussion include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble concentrating and remembering
- Lack of balance and coordination
- Loss of consciousness
It is important to note, however, that those with a concussion may not experience any symptoms for several hours after impact. They may continue to carry out their normal activities, believing they are fine, until they are unexpectedly impaired.
If you have suffered a concussion before, it’s extra important to get checked out after a car accident, as the outcome can be dangerous. With serious concussions, such as those in which the brain has swollen, complicated medical procedures may be required, including surgery.
3. Herniated Disc
Herniated discs occur when the center of a spinal disc slips out of its casing. Nerves nearby can be affected, resulting in pain and weakness over time. Other symptoms, which will depend on where the disc is situated and whether it is pressing on a nerve, include:
- Sharp or burning pain in your arms or legs
- Radiating numbness or tingling in the areas served by the impacted nerves
- Muscle weakness that affects your ability to walk or lift and hold items
Some people who suffer from a herniated disc feel it immediately, while others don’t. In the absence of treatment, a herniated disc can lead to serious complications and potential disabilities, so you should be examined for any spinal injuries after a car accident.
4. Soft Tissue Injuries
Car accidents often result in soft tissue injuries, which occur when tendons, ligaments, and muscles are damaged. They can include:
- Strained muscles
Unlike some injuries, soft tissue damage is not always painful in the beginning. This doesn’t mean it is inconsequential: left untreated, it can worsen and cause pain for years after the accident, so see a doctor to make sure that you didn’t suffer a soft tissue injury in the accident.
5. Internal Organ Damage
In car accidents, your vital organs are at risk just as much as the rest of your body. Although your organs are protected under layers of skin, fat, muscles, tendons, and bone, they can still suffer damage, even when the skin isn’t punctured. This can happen due to impact or even sudden deceleration when you slam on your brakes.
- Tenderness over the injured area
- Abdominal pain and rigidity
- Pain in the left arm and shoulder (may indicate spleen damage)
- Pain in the right shoulder and abdominal area (liver damage)
- Blood in the urine (kidney damage)
Internal organ damage may not always be evident immediately, especially if there are no external wounds. Left untreated, it can result in serious complications and even death, so you’ll want to get checked out ASAP, especially if you feel any soreness in the abdominal area.
Always Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan Afterward
Once you seek treatment for any hidden injuries, make sure you follow your treating physician’s recommendations, including follow-up appointments, taking medication, and attending physical therapy. If you fail to follow the doctor’s directions and your injuries worsen, the insurer may argue that you failed to mitigate your damages (meaning you did not take steps to lessen the harm you suffered in the crash).
After an examination confirms the nature and extent of your injuries, you should also consult a Kalamazoo personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can negotiate a favorable settlement with the insurance company, or help you file a personal injury claim against the negligent driver, so you can recover damages for your pain and suffering.
Get a Free Consultation From a Kalamazoo Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
Hidden injuries after a car accident can be more dangerous than assumed. Just because they don’t show symptoms now doesn’t mean they never will, and if they do, your entire life could be affected. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your health and well-being.
If you’ve been in a car accident in Kalamazoo, Michigan and a medical examination has detected hidden injuries, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Conybeare Law Office can assess your damages and help you seek maximum compensation for all of your accident-related losses. To schedule your free consultation, call 269-769-BEAR or fill out this contact form. Remember: if it’s not fair, call the Bear!