What Should I Do if My Car Accident Injuries Show Up Later?

Posted on: May 20, 2021

After a car accident, victims often know immediately that they have been hurt. However, car accident injuries can show up days, weeks, and months after the crash. The victims of a car accident, including the driver, the passengers, or even a bystander, need to know about personal injury appearing later.

Studies show that in a stressful situation such as a car accident at any speed, the fight-or-flight reaction causes the human brain to react as if time slowed down. The victim experiences a sense of time expanding.

The right to recover damages for car accident injuries does not limit the injuries to those experienced at the time of the accident or immediately after.

But how long does New Jersey law allow for recovery from delayed injury symptoms and medical conditions?

In New Jersey, delayed detection of the symptoms of an injury does not preclude recovery for damages. However, there is a time limit. Promptly contacting an experienced car accident lawyer can enhance the likelihood of compensation for even a delayed injury. A lawyer can guide victims through the post-accident inquiries and the appropriate legal process to obtain the compensation due them.

Accident Injuries: Those Felt Immediately and Those Experienced Later

Not all car accident injuries surface at the time of the accident. Delayed symptoms of possible injury must be taken seriously.

Aside from the obvious physical injuries immediately after the accident, including broken bones, contusions, and cuts, there are injuries that take time for symptoms to show. The delay can be in hours, days, weeks, or even months.

No matter whether the injury is noticed immediately or long after the accident, the injured person should make notes of any symptoms or changes in their medical condition. And, that person should consult a doctor or health care professional for an early examination to assess the symptoms for diagnosis and treatment.

The following are some of the injuries with delayed symptoms:

  • Neck and head injuries that can materialize eight days after the accident. This includes signs of a concussion.
  • Seat belt bruising, a sign of internal bleeding or bruising that can manifest symptoms after 24 hours or as long as three days after the accident.
  • Whiplash, which may not be noticeable for days or even weeks later.
  • Soft tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, and contusions, may appear after time has passed.
  • Chronic widespread pain (CWP) is when an initial pain gets worse or spreads throughout the body. This can be in the first year after the accident.

This list is not all of the injuries with delayed symptoms. Later in this discussion, there is a list of symptoms that can result in a diagnosis of a medical issue.

Why It is Important for Immediate Action After a Delayed Symptom Arises

In New Jersey, the clock to start a lawsuit begins when the injury is discovered or when the victim should have known about the injury. This rule allows victims two full years after such discovery to file a lawsuit, up to a maximum of four years after the date of the accident.

Filing a lawsuit to recover damages requires first a preliminary investigation of the facts of the accident and may involve in-depth reviews of medical records and visits to specialists. An experienced and astute lawyer wants to establish a fact pattern that can be proved in court along with a realistic assessment of the damages and what amount can be recovered.

Therefore, although the victim has up to four years to sue after discovery of the injury, the lawyers preparation time can be months or even more to complete before going to court. This is a necessary complication.

Victims should not delay once symptoms of an injury appear. They need to go to the doctor and have medical tests performed. A comprehensive diagnosis should be obtained. Victims should follow their doctors orders, which include getting physical or psychological therapy.

Also, victims should not delay in consulting with an experienced and capable lawyer.

Signs of a Delayed Injury and Its Symptoms

Given the importance of recognizing bodily changes for symptoms of delayed injuries and getting medical care and even consulting with a lawyer about rights and remedies, these are some of the signs of a delayed injury for which victims need to be aware:

  • Soft tissue injuries have later symptoms such as back pain.
  • Whiplash is the body’s sudden and violent movement in two opposite directions.  It is common in car accidents, even with occupants in seat belts. The delayed symptoms of whiplash can include headache, indicating a head or neck injury. Brain and neck injuries can have delayed symptoms noticed up to eight days later. Other delayed symptoms include pain or stiffness in the neck or shoulder; and numbness in the arms or hands, including tingling, which can indicate spinal injuries.
  • Back pain anywhere along the spine may be signs of injury to the muscles, ligaments, nerves, or vertebrae. This includes symptoms of a herniated disk.
  • Abdominal pain, which can be serious because it can be a sign of internal bleeding. Internal bleeding, sometimes called seat belt syndrome, can manifest itself between 24 hours to 72 hours after the crash.
  • Personality changes, which is a symptom of a concussion, even if the victim never lost consciousness. Behavioral shifts due to an auto accident represents a reaction to a traumatic event but should be monitored if anything changes.
  • Coordination problems can also be an indication of a concussion.
  • Nightmares or flashbacks can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
  • Concussion, which is a swelling in the brain. A concussion requires immediate medical care and treatment no matter when the symptoms arise. These delayed symptoms include dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, and difficulty in concentrating and absorbing new information.

Chronic widespread pain usually presents its symptoms immediately, but even for up to one year, there may be a spreading or increased pain.

There are other symptoms of delayed injury that can otherwise be considered normal complaints unrelated to the accident. These include stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and fever. Experiencing these physical symptoms even days or weeks after the accident is a clear signal to contact a doctor for an examination.

Car accidents can be horrific experiences, even if the property damage is not severe. Each person reacts differently to a car accident. For some, there is a mental fog affecting thinking and focusing; for others, there can be a flood of thoughts and concerns.

Hazlet Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Fight for Victims of Car Accidents

Medical experts say that accident victims can be distracted by the facts of the accident itself and not able to focus on injury symptoms. These distractions should not prevent recovery for car accident injuries. The law recognizes the fact that delayed symptom injuries occur. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova will advocate for your rights. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.