What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Here's what to expect physically after a car accident.

Even if you are a stickler for wearing your seatbelt and keeping your hands at ten and two on the wheel, you can still become injured in a car accident. The human body absorbs the impact of the collision, and the resulting symptoms can range from minor aches and pains to broken bones and even traumatic brain injuries. This is especially true if you are someone who drives everyday.

Here’s what to expect physically after a car accident.

Immediately After the Accident

Most people experience an adrenaline rush immediately after a car accident. This can mask pain and delay injury symptoms for several days. Some injuries, like whiplash, concussion, or soft tissue damage, aren’t immediately apparent. This is why it’s important to seek medical attention after getting in an accident, even if you aren’t experiencing any pain.

Common Symptoms

Neck, shoulder, and back pain are common after car accidents. This type of symptom can be indicative of whiplash or a spinal injury. Tingling and numbness suggest nerve damage, which can be another sign of a spinal injury. Other symptoms to look out for include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble focusing
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

Common Injuries

The most common accident injury is soft tissue damage. This is an injury to the nerves, tendons, muscles, and other tissues that surround the bones and joints. One form of soft tissue damage is whiplash, an injury that happens when a rear-end impact causes the head to “whip” forward and backward, resulting in a neck strain or sprain. Some other common accident injuries are:

  • Knee injuries
  • Herniated discs
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions

Mental Injuries

Car accidents can be emotionally traumatic. Studies show that people who have been in car accidents are at risk of developing psychological problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD include mood swings, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, flashbacks, and generalized fear towards cars and driving.

What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident

Along with trading insurance information and moving your vehicle to a safe location, you should pay attention to your body. Seek medical attention immediately, even if you feel fine. Delayed symptoms are prevalent after car accidents, and you may not feel any pain or discomfort for several days. Doing this ensures that serious injuries can be treated right away, and the documentation will be a useful tool for insurance purposes.

How to Recover from a Car Accident

The recovery period after experiencing a car accident can take days, months, or even years, depending on the severity of your injuries. To make the most of your recovery, be sure to get a medical evaluation as early as possible so you can get treatment right away. If you were unable to be evaluated at the scene of the accident, try to follow-up with an orthopedic doctor or chiropractor, who are more specialized to treat pain from high-impact trauma than a general provider.


Your emotional health should be prioritized as well, especially if you are experiencing PTSD-like symptoms. Your mental well-being can affect your physical health, so a therapist may be helpful if you need more support for mental recovery. Practicing self-care, like getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet, can also help speed up the recovery process.

Get Legal Help

Trying to resolve a car accident can get hectic, and that’s before any injuries have been assessed. A legal expert can help determine what your legal rights are when it comes to seeking damages. For more information about accident injuries, visit robertslawfirm.net/orange-county-personal-injury-attorney/car-accidents/.

Alicia Baker
Alicia is a Canadian writer whose enthusiasm for cultural and automotive are combined in her writing. Her background includes links to insurance, finance, and automotive safety.