Delayed Symptoms After a Car Accident

Woman with a headache after her car accident.

It is by no means uncommon for someone who has been seriously injured in a car accident to feel little or no pain immediately afterwards. The emotional shock of the crash and the adrenaline and endorphins circulating in the body at this time of crisis often mask symptoms that may indicate significant, even life-threatening, injuries.

This is why you should have a medical checkup after a car crash, and why you should not sign any release forms for an insurance adjuster in the immediate aftermath of a collision. Before making any decisions about whether to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, it is essential to consult a well-respected car accident law practice, like Compass Law Group, LLP in Los Angeles, to understand your options. 

Watch Out for Delayed Symptoms

In the days and even weeks after a car accident, concerning symptoms may appear or seemingly insignificant symptoms may worsen. You should be on the lookout for:


Headaches, while often benign, may be indicative of a serious injury, such as whiplash, a blood clot, or a concussion. In the event that your head was violently jolted, causing a concussion,your brain to hit against your skull. This may cause you to suffer swelling, bleeding, bruising, or other damage to brain tissue. Even if you never lose consciousness, in addition to headache, you may experience: 

  • Unclear thinking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering 
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal sleep patterns 
  • Sensitivity to light

Concussions, because they involve the brain, are always serious and always warrant medical examination.


No matter how well you believe you “handled” the car accident, you may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as vivid memories that interfere with normal functioning and disturbing nightmares. Flashbacks may also occur. You should note that children, or adults with anxiety issues, may be especially susceptible to PTSD. Some of the other symptoms of PTSD are similar to those of a concussion, and include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings or personality changes (e.g. withdrawal, angry outbursts)
  • Lack of motivation or disinterest in things you used to enjoy
  • Panic attacks

It is important to address PTSD symptoms early on with therapy and/or medication. Otherwise, these symptoms may lead to long-term psychiatric issues.

Neck and Shoulder Pain or Stiffness

Pain or stiffness in the neck or shoulders should not be ignored. These symptoms may show up long enough after the accident that you don’t make the connection, so remember that they may signal whiplash — which occurs when the head is suddenly, forcefully, thrown forward and then back — or a problem with a cervical bone or disc. You should be aware the majority of whiplash injuries occur as the result of low-speed rear-end collisions.

Delayed Symptoms of Back Pain

Back pain that shows up hours or days after the accident can be a sign of a herniated disc, a vertebral dislocation, a sprain or a torn ligament. If the pain is accompanied by numbness, is sharp and stabbing or feels electric, it may indicate a pinched nerve. More than half of the injuries reported in rear-end collisions are back-related, as are nearly three-quarters of those suffered in side-impact crashes.

Musculoskeletal Injuries

Not only do many car accident victims suffer injuries to their muscles, tendons, and ligaments; a great many also experience bone fractures and joint dislocations. While most injuries of this nature result in immediate pain and immobility, small (stress) fractures may only produce symptoms after the patient returns to a normal routine, including bending, reaching, or lifting.

Delayed Symptoms of Abdominal Pain 

Abdominal pain or swelling that appears a few days after a car accident may be falsely assumed to have another cause, but you should be suspicious of a possible connection between the pain and the car crash. Abdominal pain can be a symptom of internal bleeding or even organ damage, especially when the pain is accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, swelling, or purple bruising. Abdominal pain after a car accident requires urgent medical attention since, left untreated, it may result in death.

Delayed Symptoms of Prolonged Numbness or Tingling 

If you have numbness or tingling anywhere in the body, it may indicate nerve damage and you should, therefore, be examined by a doctor. Nerve damage may take a long time to heal, but there are several innovative treatments now in use for this condition and the sooner you are treated, the sooner you will be comfortable.

Contact Our Expert Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys Today!

Even if you don’t yet know the full extent of the injury you have suffered in a car accident, an experienced, empathic car accident attorney can provide you with useful counsel about how to seek medical care, retain appropriate records, and protect your legal rights. There is no downside to consulting with Compass Law Group since we will charge you no attorneys’ fees until we win you compensation.


Find out if you have a case in a few minutes, call us at (310) 289-7126

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