Vehicle collisions are a common cause of injuries, and many, such as cuts, bruises, and broken bones, are obvious. However, in the aftermath following a crash, the full extent of your injuries may not be immediately apparent. Drivers are often disoriented right after a crash and believe their injuries to be minor; but some symptoms may not appear until days, weeks, or even months later.
Here are some of the most common types of hidden injuries after a road wreck:
Although whiplash is a regular occurrence in car wrecks, it can lead to more serious complications beyond short-term cervical strain. The force of a collision may lead to herniated discs, which is when the tissue between the spinal vertebrae swells and ruptures. A herniated disc can increase pressure on the nerves that lead to the spine, which may cause extreme pain and lead to loss of muscle control.
While herniated discs can occur immediately in severe accidents, some may not appear until months after the incident and may require surgery. Because of the risks of long-term nerve damage from herniated discs, it’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a back or neck injury from a car crash.
A driver may slam the brakes to avoid striking another car and painfully compress the knee. Frequently, a collision may throw a driver or passenger forward, causing them to bash their knees on the dashboard. This type of injury may be immediately apparent in some cases, but cartilage damage may take longer to appear or worsen through strain.
Because the shoulder joint has an extensive range of motion and the seatbelt could increase pressure on the shoulder upon impact, shoulder injuries are very common in car crash victims. Similar to knee injuries, this type of injury may be obvious right away or can worsen with strain. If left untreated, shoulder injuries may require surgery. Ligament and cartilage tears in the knees and shoulders don’t heal on their own and typically require surgery to repair.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are another common occurrence in vehicle accidents. Many times what has been diagnosed as a concussion post-crash turns out to be a TBI a year after the wreck. TBIs are a very serious matter and can cause long-term damage to brain function. While you would likely receive immediate treatment if you experienced a direct blow to the head during the crash, some of the more insidious symptoms may take longer to show up. A moderate TBI can lead to post-concussion syndrome, which may last for a year or more after the head injury. Because TBIs can cause psychological changes, the symptoms may be harder to detect, such as short-term memory loss and behavioral changes, including irritability.
Moderate to severe TBIs can have devastating, lifelong effects and leave victims with substantial medical bills, the inability to work, and requiring constant care or assistance with basic daily tasks. TBIs can put a great deal of strain on the entire family of the victim.
PTSD and Other Psychological Problems
A traumatic event like a car crash can have far-reaching consequences beyond physical injuries. Road wrecks are one of the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population. Everyone experiences PTSD differently, but some common symptoms include re-experiencing the event, avoidance, changes in mood and sleep, and negative thoughts. Although many car crash victims may experience some of these symptoms in the immediate aftermath, if these negative feelings persist for months it could be a sign of a more significant psychological condition.
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic accident will develop PTSD, but there are other serious, life-altering psychological conditions to watch for, such as anxiety and depression. Some people may even develop driving-related phobias, while others experience physical manifestations from the PTSD such as ulcers, night terrors, and anxiety and panic attacks. It’s important to seek help for these life-impacting conditions.
There’s little doubt that motor vehicle crashes often have life-altering consequences, but all the negative impacts may take months after the incident to materialize. If you have suffered a late-appearing car crash injury, call the experienced team of personal injury lawyers at Burg Simpson Arizona at (602) 777-7000.