If you are in a car crash, do you immediately know whether you are hurt and how bad you are hurt? Although you might think you would know, hidden injuries in auto accident cases are more common than you think.
You could be hurting your chances of a full recovery if you do not 1) get checked out immediately by medical professionals, and 2) schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor soon after the crash…
The crash happens suddenly – in a split second, the other car flies through the red light, slams into our car, and then chaos as our car spins out of control, coming to rest on its side in the intersection.
In the aftermath, I feel sore all over – my neck, my back, my legs, my arms, everything hurts. But, there is no blood, and nothing seems to be broken. As the EMT’s check me out, I tell them repeatedly I will be okay. Nothing’s broken, I’m sure that it’s normal to feel sore after a traumatic event like a car crash, and, as I watch the tow truck arrive to haul away my badly damaged car, I just want to go home.
What I don’t know is that, within the next 48 hours, I will start to experience horrible pain. Even worse, I don’t yet know that the other driver’s insurance company is going to deny my claim – saying that I was not injured in the accident because I was not immediately diagnosed with my injuries…
Types of Hidden Injuries in Auto Accident Cases
There are many different types of hidden injuries in auto accident cases. Some may seem minor until they fully develop days or weeks later, while others may not be noticeable at all until hours, days, or weeks after the crash.
Whiplash or Herniated Discs
My neck was sore after the crash, but I thought that was normal. It’s been a few weeks now, the pain has become unbearable, and I can’t even turn my head anymore. Maybe I should go see the doctor now?
Whiplash has been the subject of many jokes aimed at personal injury lawyers over the years. It’s the image of a greedy plaintiff wearing a neck brace whose lie is exposed when the savvy insurance defense lawyer drops a book on the floor and the fake victim quickly turns their head to look….
Except, it’s no laughing matter to the accident victim who is suffering from nauseating, relentless neck pain.
Sometimes, whiplash results in a mild but painful strain on your neck muscles that can be difficult to shake and even more difficult to prove in court. Other times, it can result in a herniated disc – when the tissue between your spine’s vertebrae balloons out or even ruptures.
A herniated disc can cause severe, long-term pain and even loss of muscle control. It often requires expensive surgery, and it can result in long-term disability.
Whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries can be an “invisible” injury that insurance defense lawyers and insurance adjusters attempt to discount. They are relying on the difficulty of proving the extent of your soft-tissue injury, especially if you did not receive an immediate diagnosis after the crash.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
It’s been a month since the car wreck. I’ve noticed I’m feeling irritable all the time – I feel confused, frustrated, and… angry. What’s going on?
When the violent impact of a car crash causes your head to strike the windshield, steering wheel, or another surface in your car, it can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even if your head does not suffer a direct impact, TBI can be caused by the pressure on your brain from a sudden stop or your head whipping back and forth.
Headaches, slight pain, or a minor bruise to the head can easily be written off as a minor inconvenience that doesn’t require treatment. Until weeks or even months later, when the crash victim’s behavior begins to change:
- They are becoming forgetful;
- Their personality has changed; or
- They are more easily irritated or angry.
Any person who suffers a head injury during a car crash, has a concussion, is knocked unconscious, or who is suffering from a persistent headache after a crash should be monitored and checked for TBI immediately after the crash and later in a follow-up visit to their doctor.
If TBI is suspected, the crash victim should consult with a neurologist as soon as possible.
Spinal Cord Injuries
I’ve seen a chiropractor for what they say is whiplash, but now I’m starting to experience numbness in my legs – what’s going on? Should I have gotten checked by a neurologist sooner?
Spinal cord injuries are another example of hidden injuries in auto accident cases.
Although spinal cord injuries can result in full or partial paralysis, paraplegia, loss of involuntary bodily functions, and can result in life-long disability, they are not necessarily visible immediately after a car crash.
Delayed onset spinal cord injuries can be a hidden complication that accompanies whiplash or other injuries caused by an auto accident, or they can manifest in the days or weeks after the crash in the absence of other obvious injuries.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Psychological Injury
I haven’t slept since the crash. When I begin to fall asleep, it seems like I immediately fall into a nightmare – I can’t remember all the details, except there is a violent crash, my body is broken, and I wake up in a cold sweat.
Even during the day, I find myself replaying the crash in my head over and over – I’m distracted, stressed, and even the smallest everyday tasks have become difficult and annoying. I’m stronger than this, aren’t I? What’s wrong with me?
The most common and over-looked hidden injuries in auto accident cases are psychological injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder.
A violent and unexpected car crash is traumatic. Although many people will minimize the psychological impact of the car crash, it is common for symptoms to include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Emotional trauma;
- Depression; and
- A phobia of driving or being in a car, leaving the crash victim unable to drive.
If you have been in a car wreck and you begin experiencing these symptoms, get help immediately. The costs of therapy for emotional trauma can be recovered as part of your damages in an auto accident case, and, if you leave the condition untreated, it may only worsen.
Why You Should Get Medical Care Immediately
If you do not immediately get checked out by medical professionals, hidden injuries can worsen over time – some hidden injuries from auto accidents can result in a lifelong disability which may have been avoided if there had been a quick diagnosis followed by surgery or other treatment.
The other problem you may have is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will attempt to deny or limit your claim. Insurance companies are not there to help you. They are not there to pay your medical bills or even to pay valid claims.
They exist solely to make money – they became a trillion-dollar a year industry not by doing the right thing, but by focusing on profits. One way to do this is to deny or limit any claim when a colorable defense exists. For example, when you claim that you were injured in a car wreck but there is no evidence of the injury until weeks or months after the crash…
It’s not just the very serious, life-changing injuries listed above. Shoulder injuries, knee injuries, torn ligaments, and other types of soft-tissue injuries may not be obvious – or their severity may not be known – until days or weeks after the crash.
Myrtle Beach Auto Accident Lawyers
If you are the victim of an auto accident in Myrtle Beach, get checked out by medical professionals immediately. Follow any recommendations that EMT’s or emergency room doctors give you and schedule a follow-up appointment with your personal physician soon after the crash.
Just as importantly, get an experienced SC auto accident lawyer on your side as soon as possible after the accident. Call now at (843) 488-5000 or send an online message to talk with a SC auto accident attorney in Myrtle Beach today.