It is surprisingly common for car crash injuries not to become obvious right away. You may not realize for days or weeks after the crash that you have a serious injury. This does not mean you were not injured, however.
Insurance companies often ask accident victims to sign away their rights early in the process. Sometimes, this is before you even know how injured you are.
Never sign a settlement with an insurance company until you have spoken with an attorney about your rights. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand the offer and how it can impact you moving forward. If you settle your case too early, you risk taking an offer that does not fairly compensate you for the injuries that you have suffered, including your pain and suffering and potential future medical treatment.
Common symptoms of injury that may not show up until later
You may not notice the headache and stiffness at first because a car crash fills you with adrenaline, which can mask symptoms. Also, there are injuries that take time to develop or get worse over time.
Here are some examples of symptoms that may seem mild and manageable at first but could mean trouble later on:
Headache — While you might get a headache just from the stress of being in a car wreck, headaches can also be symptoms of concussions, brain injuries, blood clots or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Neck and shoulder pain — This could be a sign of whiplash, which is a group of soft-tissue injuries, or something more serious like a herniated disc or a spinal injury.
Back pain — This could also indicate soft-tissue injuries like whiplash, strains, sprains or muscle damage.
Nerve pain or weakness — If you are feeling numbness or tingling after a car crash, don’t just assume it will go away. It could be a symptom of nerve damage or a herniated disc.
Abdominal pain — This can be extremely serious because it could indicate internal injuries that could be serious or fatal if untreated. Internal injuries also commonly cause the appearance of deep bruising, headaches and dizziness.
Changes in emotional wellbeing — Many people experience depression, anxiety and PTSD after a serious wreck. In some cases, these changes in mood can be caused by a brain injury.
If an insurance company approaches you about a settlement, you may think you don’t need much because you’re not very injured or that you just want a quick resolution to the matter. Take the time to consider all of your options. You don’t have to sign the settlement and release of liability right away. It is always best to review your options with an experienced car accident lawyer before you make any final decisions.