man with headache after car accident

Most of us have experienced a seemingly benign bump, slip or jolt to which we trace the next day’s stiffness, ache or bruise. The same delay in symptoms often occurs after a car accident when much more serious symptoms may only become apparent after 24 hours or more. This is why it is important to get checked out medically before declaring yourself to be “fine.” While some severe injuries are immediately apparent — lacerations, bone fractures, loss of consciousness — others may be camouflaged by shock or trauma.

It is crucial to understand that the adrenaline and endorphins circulating through your body at the time of the crash frequently mask symptoms that have to be addressed. These delayed symptoms should never be ignored since they may require urgent treatment or surgical repair and may even be life-threatening.

If your delayed symptoms were caused by someone else’s negligence, you will need a skilled personal injury attorney in addition to a competent physician. Because your serious injuries may keep you from working for an extended period and may necessitate hospitalization or home nursing care, they may result in financial, as well as physical and emotional, distress. This is why you will need strong legal advocacy. Make sure you seek out an experienced, well-respected lawyer with a history of successful litigation. Levin & Malkin’s team will always provide you with empathy as well as excellent legal representation.

Delayed Symptoms May Indicate a Number of Medical Conditions

It is a good idea to monitor yourself for delayed symptoms after a traffic accident. Many symptoms may be difficult to diagnose so it’s important to visit your doctor ASAP.


While headaches are common and usually no cause for alarm, ongoing or intermittent headaches in the days following a car accident may be due to swelling or bleeding in the brain. Be alert for signs of:

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Blurred vision or light sensitivity
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, fatigue, or sleep abnormalities

Concussions or other brain injuries always warrant immediate medical attention.

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Injuries

During a car crash, in addition to colliding with car parts or other passengers, your body is jolted suddenly into awkward, painful positions, often overstretching muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons. Nerves may also be impacted. Delayed symptoms of such injuries may include:

  • Stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulders, i.e. whiplash
  • Back pain or immobility due to a pinched nerve or herniated disc 
  • Muscular pain or limited range of motion due to strain or sprain 
  • Pain in caused by bone or joint dislocation
  • Numbness or tingling, indicating nerve damage

Some of these injuries, especially nerve damage, take a long time to heal, requiring bracing, physical therapy, and/or surgical intervention. The sooner you take action, the better.

Abdominal Pain 

Abdominal pain after a traffic accident can be a symptom of internal bleeding or even organ damage, particularly if accompanied by:

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
  • Swelling or purple bruising on the abdomen 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Severe headache 
  • Nausea or vomiting

These symptoms require urgent medical attention because internal bleeding can be fatal.

Psychological Disorders

Whether or not you appeared to be unnerved at the time of the accident, it is not uncommon to develop psychological or psychiatric symptoms after the fact. Such symptoms cover a broad spectrum. They include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or vivid nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings 
  • Personality changes (e.g. withdrawal, angry outbursts)
  • Lack of motivation or disinterest in things you used to enjoy
  • Panic attacks

These delayed symptoms may be related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and will typically require psychotherapy and/or medication for recovery.

Don’t Delay Reporting Delayed Symptoms

Just because certain medical or psychological issues don’t arise on the day of your car accident doesn’t mean you should procrastinate in responding to them. Take the necessary steps quickly. Consulting with your doctor will help protect your help. Consulting with an astute car accident attorney will help to protect your financial stability and your family’s future. 

Posted in: Car Accidents