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When should I see a doctor after a car accident?

The human body is a remarkably resilient thing, but automobile accidents involve thousands of pounds of metal and plastic violently slamming together at speeds that biology simply isn’t equipped to deal with. Even if your car has the best anti-crash technology on the market, injuries can and do happen.

Sometimes, you may not even notice that you’ve been hurt right away, or you may think your injury is minor and you can “tough it out.” Should you see a doctor after a car crash anyway, even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt?

Hidden Injuries After a Car Crash

After your crash, if you feel any pain or discomfort at all, the answer is always yes, you should seek medical help as soon as you can. But even if you don’t feel pain, it’s not a bad idea to get checked out, too.

The reason is that our bodies react automatically to stress by releasing emergency hormones that can heighten awareness, increase reaction time, and crucially, dull pain for a brief period of time. It can take hours for hormone levels to fully return to normal, long after you’ve returned home after the crash. What feels like a minor bump now may actually turn out to be something much more serious later. You may not realize the extent of your injuries until some time has passed, and the nature of the injuries may mean that symptoms don’t show up for even longer—weeks or even months, in some cases, depending on the type, severity, and location of the injury.

Hidden Soft Tissue Injuries and TBI After an Accident

Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash (a sprain or strain in the neck region, caused by the fast forward/backward whip-like motion of the head in the crash) are particularly notorious when it comes to delayed pain responses. Swelling, bruising, pain, and loss of mobility can take days or weeks to appear, and soft tissue injuries cannot be diagnosed with an X-ray. A CT scan or MRI may be necessary to document the damage and ensure you get treated promptly, to prevent further damage and potentially life-long pain.

Another potential danger that may not be recognized right away without medical help is a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. When the cars collide, the head can be jolted into the steering wheel, window, or headrest with a shocking amount of force, yet without breaking the skin. This type of injury can even happen without the head contacting another surface at all, as the head is rapidly tossed or whipped during the crash. The violence of the impact can cause the brain to slam into the inside of the skull, causing a concussion—or worse. A TBI can have lasting consequences and can be life-threatening, so quick medical intervention is a must.

Symptoms of TBI After a Car Crash

Victims of TBI may show obvious symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, but others may show more subtle symptoms that onlookers can miss, but medical personnel may be on the lookout for or be able to spot right away. Symptoms of a TBI to look out for after a car crash include the following:

  • Confusion, disorientation, or altered thought patterns.
  • Short-term memory loss or inability to remember immediate information.
  • Inability to concentrate or pay attention.
  • Inability to stay awake.
  • Dizziness or lack of coordination.
  • Nausea or vomiting.

If you notice any of these symptoms after an accident, or if you think that you or someone else has hit his or her head in the accident, get medical attention right away. It may be nothing—but it could save a life.

Get Help After Your Car Accident

Though cars are designed to protect drivers and passengers from injury, the forces involved in a collision are shockingly destructive, even if the accident seems minor. Getting checked out by a doctor after your crash even if you don’t feel injured can both save your life and your pocketbook, as the medical records of your examination can be used in your personal injury lawsuit against the person or parties responsible for the crash to help you recover the costs of your treatment.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are ready to seek compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation, personal property, pain and suffering, and more, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’re here to stand up for the rights of victims and their families after serious auto accidents, and we’re here to help you, too.

Call Wayne Wright by phone, send an email with our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional about your accident today.