When you have a traumatic experience like a car accident, you may feel stunned and struggle to figure out what to do next. This shock and confusion can prevent people from noticing injuries. One reason may be an excessive rush of adrenaline and endorphins pumping through your body. These can act as natural pain relievers and mask pain and injury. No matter how severe or minor a car accident is, it is crucial to get the medical attention that you need.

Traffic accidents cause considerable economic loss to individuals and their families. These losses arise from the cost of medical treatment to lost productivity. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, more than three million people are injured each year in motor vehicle accidents on U.S. roads and highways. Of this, around two million drivers experience permanent injuries.

Symptoms to be aware of after a car accident

Injuries from car accidents can be gradual and hard to detect right away. Sometimes you won’t feel any pain for hours, days or even weeks after the accident. The following is a list of delayed symptoms accident victims may experience:

  • Headache. Developing a headache is a common symptom after an accident. If it doesn’t clear up after a couple of days, the headache may be a sign of a more serious hidden injury. A chronic headache can indicate a traumatic brain injury or a blood clot in or on the brain. A blow to the head can cause long-term headaches called post-traumatic or post-concussion headaches.
  • Neck pain. Depending on the severity of the injury, neck pain can last anywhere between a few hours and several months. One of the most common injuries that can result from a car accident is whiplash. Neck pain from whiplash usually begins within 24 hours after the accident, but some people may not experience pain until several days later.
  • Abdominal pain. The violent motion of a car accident can push the abdomen against seat belt restraints and result in injuries. Abdominal pain might indicate injuries to the abdominal wall, intestine or bowels. Internal organs and muscles might be damaged or there could be internal bleeding. Symptoms of pain or tenderness can point to more significant injuries.
  • Back pain. Even a seemingly minor accident can cause back injuries. An injury to any part of the back – muscles, tendons, tissues, bone – can result in limited mobility, debilitating pain and sometimes paralysis. Back pain can be indicative of whiplash, spinal cord injury, spinal compression fractures or herniated discs.

If left untreated, many injuries can develop into more severe conditions.

Accident victims should get checked out by a doctor right away. Refusing or delaying medical treatment can undermine an injury claim and impede a speedy recovery.