The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2.1 million Americans visited the emergency room in 2020 due to motor vehicle accident-related injuries. On the other hand, many others return home after a car accident without seeking medical care because they don’t realize how seriously they have been hurt.

While you may initially feel fine after a car accident, not all injuries are immediately apparent. Days, weeks, or even months may pass before symptoms fully manifest. People may disregard a headache, backache, or other pain that is actually a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we recommend going to the hospital for a medical examination even if you feel fine right after the collision. Our personal injury lawyers understand that a car accident can have an effect on your physical, mental, and financial well-being.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our law firm today. Call us 24/7 at 1-866-909-6894 or complete the contact form to schedule a free case review.

Why Symptoms of Car Accident Injuries Are Delayed

When you are faced with a traumatic experience, such as a car accident, your body immediately begins working to protect and heal itself. Your body’s reaction to trauma can temporarily mask the symptoms of injury by producing adrenaline, shock, or inflammation.


In the event of a car accident, your body tries to protect you from trauma by releasing a rush of adrenaline and endorphins. Adrenaline triggers a fight-or-flight response when you are in danger.

A surge of adrenaline can cause:

  • Increased energy
  • Hyperalertness
  • Changes in vision and hearing
  • Dull or mask pain

The rush of endorphins your body releases can make you feel calm and controlled. Endorphins can also have an effect on how you react to stress and pain.

It may take a day or two for the effects of the adrenaline and endorphins to wear off. Once they have, that’s when you may start noticing pain and other signs of injury.


Shock is a psychological and physical response to trauma. When you are in shock, your blood pressure drops suddenly. The blood vessels in your hands and feet narrow, reallocating blood to your vital organs. The lack of blood flow to your hands and feet could cause loss of sensation in limbs that were injured in the car accident.

The shock of a car accident can also have a psychological effect. You may feel a sort of numbness or disconnect from the traumatic experience. The mental detachment caused by being in shock can distract you from the severity of your injuries.


Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injuries and infection. It is also one of the main causes of delayed pain after a car accident. After the effects of adrenaline and endorphins wear off, your body responds to pain and injury through inflammation or swelling at the point of injury.

For instance, if you broke your foot in a car accident, you may notice redness or swelling around the broken bone. However, the effects of the swelling may make it so you do not feel much pain and realize the full extent of the injury at the time.

Common Car Accident Injuries With Delayed Symptoms

A headache, neck pain, or tingling in your hands or feet could be a symptom of a serious car accident injury. Consider the following conditions, for example.


The force of a collision can cause your neck to quickly whip back and forth. This movement can stretch and tear ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves in your neck. While whiplash is common after an accident, symptoms may not be apparent for days or weeks after the collision.

Be alert to the following signs you may be suffering from whiplash:

  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Weakness or numbness in your arms
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches


A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by your brain being thrown against the skull wall. This rapid movement can damage the tissue, blood vessels, and nerves in your brain. A TBI can cause permanent damage or be fatal when left untreated.

Indications you have a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Persistent headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Balance issues
  • Nausea
  • Loss of memory

Internal bleeding

While a seatbelt may have saved your life, the force of being thrown against it could have damaged your ribs, abdominal muscles, and internal organs. Internal injuries are incredibly dangerous and can be life-threatening.

Signs of internal bleeding include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood

Back and spinal injuries

Soreness or tenderness in your back can turn into more persistent back pain with time. Back pain can indicate injury to your vertebrae, discs, ligaments, or muscles.

Injuries such as a herniated disc can gradually put pressure on your nerves, alerting you to the injury days after the accident.

Symptoms of a back or spinal injury include:

  • Back pain
  • Balance issues
  • Back soreness or stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness in your limbs
  • Limited mobility or range of motion
  • Numbness or tingling sensation

It is essential that you visit a hospital if you suspect that you have suffered any sort of back injury. A spinal cord injury can be life-altering and result in permanent paralysis.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Weeks or months may pass by before you realize the full effect a car accident had on your mental and emotional health. The trauma of an accident and severe injuries can leave a victim suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The following are signs you may be dealing with PTSD:

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Flashbacks to the accident
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Intense fear of dying

Typically, PTSD is diagnosed when a victim is experiencing these symptoms for a month or more following an accident. However, delayed-onset PTSD can be experienced 6 months or longer after a car crash.

Our Lawyers Help Car Accident Victims With Delayed Pain

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident and are experiencing delayed pain, seek medical help immediately. After caring for your physical and mental health, contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Failure to see a doctor and seek legal aid after a car accident can leave you with a lifetime of pain and a mountain of medical bills. The lawyers of Judd Shaw Injury Law can help ensure you receive the medical care you need and recover the financial compensation you are entitled to.

Our law firm takes all car accident cases on contingency. This means you do not owe us a dime unless your case is successful and we recover compensation for you.

What’s more, our law firm strives to adhere to a list of values we call the Judd Shaw Way. We care about our clients and work hard to be their “knights in shining armor.” We can be yours, too. Take the first step by calling us at (866) 909-6894 to schedule a free case review.