Car accidents present a risk every time you are on or near to a road. Whether you are a driver, a passenger, a cyclist, a pedestrian, or working on or near to a road, you could be involved in a car accident at any time. Nobody plans to be in an accident, and in the immediate aftermath you may not know exactly what to do. For example, should you call the police? Your insurer? What if the person responsible appears to have been drinking? Should you contact a drunk driving lawyer? You will need to have your wits about you.
One of the things that people do not always realise may be an issue is the possibility that they could be affected by the delayed onset of personal injury symptoms – whereas certain injuries may be instantly obvious, others may take time to come to light. Let’s look at some of the symptoms you could face in the hours, days, weeks, months, and in some cases years after your car accident.
Pain in the neck and shoulders (particularly on the seatbelt side)
Following any injury, your body may release hormones called endorphins that mask the pain. This is nature’s way of allowing you time to get to safety, without being in too much discomfort to move. It is due to this ‘pain-killing’ response to perilous situations that people might not experience the onset of pain in the neck and shoulders (commonly known as whiplash) until hours or even days after their injury. No matter how long after your car accident, if you experience symptoms of whiplash (which could manifest as stiffness in the head, neck, or shoulders) or any pain radiating from the shoulder across which the seatbelt was positioned, your symptoms are likely to be a delayed result of the crash.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Symptoms of PTSD may be experienced at any time by anyone who has witnessed or been directly involved in a traumatic situation such as a car accident. The onset of PTSD can be immediate or may develop over a number of days and weeks (normally within six months). Symptoms include experiencing distress when being reminded of the event or when thinking about the event, and suffering upsetting flashbacks when trying to sleep at night. Alternatively, symptoms could also include a lack of interest in normal everyday life, or the perception of being detached from people (i.e. feeling emotionally distant or numb). These symptoms can often be traced to a recent traumatic event such as a car accident.
If you have delayed symptoms of pain or PTSD after being involved in or witnessing a car accident, make an appointment to see your doctor.