How to Deal with Injuries that Show Up Long After a Car Accident

A negligent driver hits your car. You call the police and see a doctor the same day. Everything’s fine, right? Maybe not.

While some car crash injuries – cuts, bruises, badly broken bones – are obvious immediately after a car crash, other serious injuries may not appear for days, weeks, or even months after a car accident. What should you do when your car accident injuries don’t show up immediately after the accident? This post will discuss tips for when injuries show up long after a car accident.

Why do some car accident injuries take time to show up?

You might think that you’d immediately realize that you’d been injured in a car accident. But here are four reasons why injuries show up long after a car accident.


When you’re in danger, your body pumps out adrenaline to give you the power to fight back or flee. Adrenaline also tells our bodies to temporarily ignore pain signals. Once the adrenaline wears off, the pain returns. The adrenaline rush after a car accident can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.


Shock occurs when the body loses blood and other fluids leading to a steep drop in blood pressure. During shock, the body directs blood to vital organs and away from arms, legs, hands, and feet. Because these areas aren’t getting their normal blood flow, they lose sensation. Once the shock subsides – which can take several hours or several days – you may notice more injuries.


When it comes to car accident injuries, swelling is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it takes time for the body to launch the responses that cause inflammation and swelling. Once the swelling appears, you’ll likely seek treatment. On the other hand, swelling can “hide” injuries. Once the swelling subsides, you’ll try to resume normal use of the body part. At that point, you may notice other aspects of the injury.  

Change in routine

After a car accident, you’ll probably rest for a few days. While this is certainly the right thing to do, it can keep you from noticing injuries. If you haven’t walked more than a few steps for several days, you might notice pain in your feet and ankles once you start walking normal distances.

Which car accident injuries are most likely to show up days or weeks after an accident?

Some car accident injuries are more likely than others to show up long after a car accident. Injuries that most often have delayed symptoms include:

  • Whiplash,
  • Soft tissue injuries,
  • Brain injuries (including concussions and traumatic brain injuries),
  • Back injuries (e.g. herniated discs),
  • Internal bleeding,
  • Organ damage,
  • Nerve damage,
  • Infections, and
  • Emotional injuries such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While some people will notice these injuries immediately, Alabama personal injury lawyers know that these injuries often take time to be discovered.  

What signs of delayed injury should I watch for after a car accident?

It can be scary to know that car crash injuries sometimes take days or weeks to reveal themselves. But there are certain symptoms you can watch for that will increase your chances of discovering an injury that shows up in the weeks after your car crash.

Headaches – Headaches can be symptomatic of a variety of injuries. Some – like concussions – are obvious. But headaches can also be a sign of other traumatic brain injuries like a brain bleed, a blood clot in the brain, or brain swelling. Headaches can also signify non-head injuries like whiplash or herniated discs. Also, headaches often accompany emotional injuries like depression and PTSD.

Fever – Fever is a frequent symptom of infection.

Numbness – Numbness and tingling can be symptoms of whiplash, nerve damage, or a herniated disc.

Neck Pain – Neck pain often accompanies whiplash but can also be a sign of a herniated disc.

Abdominal Pain – Pain in the abdomen should never be ignored as it is often associated with serious car accident injuries like internal bleeding or organ damage.

Confusion – Confusion and other cognitive issues tend to indicate concussions or other traumatic brain injuries.

Excessive Sleeping or Insomnia – Sleeping issues can indicate brain injuries or mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

Behavior Changes – Major changes in behavior often accompany traumatic brain injuries. Behavior changes can also signify emotional distress.

Can delayed injuries affect your car accident claim?

Injuries – whether you notice them immediately or in the days or weeks after the accident – are a crucial part of your personal injury claim. To win your case, your Birmingham personal injury attorney will need proof of your injuries and proof that they were caused by the accident. As such, whether your symptoms show up immediately or well after a car accident, you should seek medical attention immediately.

If your injuries show up long after your car accident, visit your doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms. If you wait too long to seek medical treatment, you will make it easier for the other driver to argue that they didn’t cause your injuries. Keep every doctor’s appointment, take every prescribed medication, and complete all physical therapy sessions. Doing so will help your car accident lawyer prove the severity of your injuries and improve the chances of winning your personal injury claim.

Did your car accident injuries show up long after a car accident?

Every car accident is different and every car accident injury is unique. Whether your symptoms are immediately obvious or your injuries show up long after a car accident, you have legal rights. If you are looking for a Birmingham personal injury attorney, consider Collins Law, LLC. Our founder, April H. Collins, has been named one of the top 10 personal injury attorneys in Alabama. Come see the Collins Law difference. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation for your personal injury claim, 205-588-1411 or contact Collins Law online