Lyons Snyder & Collin. Trial Attorneys.


How To Deal With Delayed Pain After A Car Crash

By Philip M. Snyder

As a personal injury attorney, I am oftentimes advised by new clients that they began to suffer from back and neck pain THREE days following a car crash.

For some reason, THREE seem to be the magic number on when a client’s injuries surface post-crash, regardless of the type of impact (low impact or high impact).

Here is an explanation and signs to look for (especially with soft tissue/musculoskeltal injuries that involve muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs) following a car crash. 

Following a car crash, your adrenaline is pumping – you are in shock!

This unexpected event has put your stress level at Defcon 1. Who will fix my car?  Who will cover for me if I miss work?  How will I get my kids from school?  Will my insurance go up?……..

The last thing many people worry about is their own physical well-being.    

After taking a few Advil and “taking it easy for a day or two”, the reality that “something may not be right (physically)” begins to kick in.

Once the adrenaline wears off (body stops producing endorphins, which can mask the pain) and you go back to your normal routine (i.e. work, school, gym), the pain begins to rear its ugly head.

Usually, this occurs sometime during the day following the crash; by the following day the pain is clear.    

These are common “delayed” injuries following a car-crash.  

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Headaches / Concussions 

Headaches are common side-effect from car crashes.

Headaches could be a sign of an injury to your neck (especially upper neck) or worse, such as a brain injury.   Even if you did not strike your head during the crash, please take headache and headache-like symptoms (i.e. dizziness, vertigo, nausea, blurry vision, pain in eyes) very seriously as it could be a sign of something significant.  

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Whiplash is an injury that occurs to a person’s neck following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force that causes unrestrained, rapid forward and backward (or side-to-side) movement of the neck.  

Headaches, neck pain, upper back painshoulder pain, and/or extremity (i.e. elbow, hand) pain could be a sign of a NECK injury.

If a nerve pathway is affected, it could manifest itself in a number of different ways (including numbness, tingling, loss of feeling, etc.) in your shoulder(s), hand(s), etc.

Your activities of daily living (ADLs) will be affected.   It is important you see a chiropractor, physiatrist, or orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.

They should be able to pinpoint the pain generator.

A doctor will likely recommend you undergo an MRI (cervical) to determine if your discs were herniated in the crash. 

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Lower back pain 

Similar to whiplash, lower back pain can manifest itself days following a crash.

Like neck pain, lower back pain can be localized (usually right on the location of the disc) or radiating (travels down the leg(s)).

Radiating pain usually means the crash caused a disc to press on a spinal nerve.   Localized pain is sometimes as a result of a facet injury.

Sciatica is a common injury from rear-end crashes. A

doctor will likely recommend you undergo an MRI (lumbar) to determine if your discs were herniated in the crash. 

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In our experience, injuries to extremities (shoulders, wrists, hands, knees, feet) usually manifest themselves in a timelier manner as they are can be as a result of a torn ligament or tendon (such as ACL or rotator cuff) or broken bone. 

Due to the onset of delayed symptoms, it is imperative that you NEVER tell the at-fault driver or ANY insurance company that you are “ok” or “feeling fine” following a crash.

This statement can and will be used against you in litigation to show that you are “lying” about your current injuries.

If you are injured following a crash, please call an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal and medical options.