No matter the circumstances, car accidents are always an unfortunate experience. However, within the range of possible scenarios, you may be feeling grateful for escaping a minor impact without any symptoms of injury or PTSD. But, what happens if a few days — or weeks — down the line, you start feeling pain or discomfort either physically or mentally? Would it be possible for it to be the result of the accident? Are there any instances when a minor impact can cause significant damage? If so, what causes the delay? And, how do you know it’s time to see a doctor?
4 Reasons for Delayed Symptoms After a Car Accident
There are several reasons why you may walk away from a minor car accident feeling healthy, only to realize later that you’re actually injured. The most common examples include:
Being involved in a car accident is shocking. As such, your body releases adrenaline as part of its fight or flight response. One of the benefits of such release is that you become more alert, act on instinct — and you don’t feel pain. As a consequence, you may not even realize a part of your body may have experienced some trauma.
2. Internal Injuries
When you experience cuts and bruises, you can actually see the results of blunt force damaging your skin. So even if adrenaline prevents you from feeling pain, you can still be aware of visible injuries — and seek relief accordingly. However, symptoms of an injured organ or internal bleeding may take several days to manifest. These may include blurry vision, confusion, dizziness, or blood in your bowel movements, to name a few.
3. Aggravating Pre-Existing Injuries
Florida follows what’s known as the eggshell plaintiff rule. This means that a defendant takes the victim as they find him. For example, let’s say you already had herniated discs from a sports injury from a few months prior to the accident. Yet, the minor impact from the accident causes these herniated discs to slip and cause permanent nerve damage. The discs wouldn’t have slipped but for the car accident. Therefore, the person who caused the accident is liable for the additional damage.
4. Emotional Trauma (PTSD)
It is very possible for a person who experienced a car accident — even a minor one — to have nightmares or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the event. A problem with such a scenario is that sometimes, you may not even be aware that the root cause was the accident. This could lead to mood swings, anxiety, and/or depression, all of which could result in significant treatment costs.
Specific Injuries From Minor Car Accidents
While every accident is different and everyone has different propensities to getting injured, there are several injuries that could be the result of a minor impact. These include:
- Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI): These types of brain injuries can go undetected, as they do not cause loss of consciousness. However, left untreated, they could lead to a decline in cognitive functions — such as the ability to concentrate, understand concepts, recall memories, or communicate via language.
- Neck injuries: The neck is vulnerable to injuries during a car accident — even if the crash occurred at a low speed. These could range from whiplash to herniated discs. Left untreated, it could leave you with chronic neck and/or back pain that may radiate down the arm, as well as numbness, weakness, and/or permanent nerve damage — which could cause incontinence.
- Internal bleeding: Although these types of injuries are typically associated with high impact crashes, minor accidents could still cause trauma to blood vessels or organs — such as lacerations to vital organs. Symptoms of internal bleeding — such as lightheadedness, paleness, fatigue, and cold feeling could be fatal if left unattended.
How Long Can You Wait Before Going to the Doctor After a Car Accident in Florida?
Failing to seek medical attention for internal injuries could lead to complications such as organ failure — which could be life-threatening. Therefore, even if you feel fine after a minor impact accident, you should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. That said, Florida Statutes section 627.736 establishes a 14-day deadline — counting from the date of the accident — to file certain types of claims, such as personal injury protection (PIP).
Even if you don’t file a PIP claim, you want to seek medical care sooner rather than later, since doing so ensures you receive the best — possibly life-saving — care. This also reduces the defendant’s attorney’s chances of attempting to blame your injuries on an event subsequent to the minor car accident.
If you got into a car accident and were not at fault, let us help you.
Every car accident is different. There are many factors that determine the drivers’ level of liability. Let’s discuss your case. We’ll look for ways to have all of your expenses covered — for present and future treatment — as long as they relate to the accident.
At Carey, Leisure & Neal, we have more than three decades of combined experience successfully representing clients involved in car accidents. All of our attorneys are accessible and Board Certified in civil trial law. Contact us online or call us at (727) 799-3900 to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.