Anyone who has been in a car accident can attest to the fact that once the shock wears off and the adrenaline subsides, the bumps, bruises, and soreness can remain for hours, days, or even weeks after. Although the hope is these injuries are minor and do not need more than a bit of rest to recover, lasting soreness can signal a more serious underlying personal injury.
This discussion explains what anyone with undiagnosed pain and soreness needs to know about car accident pain and injuries, and just why it is so important to see a doctor after any type of motor vehicle crash.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Although specific injuries and symptoms depend on how fast the vehicles were traveling and the angle of impact, certain injuries are more common than others after a car accident.
Broken bones. It is common for occupants to suffer fractures of the arms, legs, ribs, and sternum in high-impact collisions. That risk increases for passengers who are not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident and make impact with the steering wheel, dash, front, sides, or rear of the vehicle.
Pain and other symptoms of a bone break vary depending on what part of the body the injury happens and the severity of the break. Some broken bones require casting. Others require extensive surgery and pins and rods to set the broken bone.
Lacerations. Lacerations, or cuts, happen when passengers make impact with broken glass, metal, and other sharp objects. These injuries can be very painful and potentially introduce infection into the body, leading to more intense pain and serious health complications.
Soft tissue injuries. Strains, sprains, and tears of the tendons, muscles, and ligaments can occur when the body is suddenly thrust in any direction, or parts of the body are jolted in different directions when a vehicle collides with another object. Ice, rest, elevation, and compression can help reduce mild pain and soreness. Some soft tissue injuries require surgery and weeks or months of rehabilitation for the patient to regain mobility.
Whiplash. Whiplash is one of the more common types of soft tissue injuries suffered by car accident victims. It is a neck injury directly caused by a sudden and forceful back-and-forth motion of the head and neck. Passengers involved in rear-end car accidents are more likely to suffer whiplash as their head jolts forward when the vehicle behind them slams into the rear of their vehicle.
Symptoms of whiplash include the following:
- Arm numbness or tingling
- Frequent headaches
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder, upper back, or arms
Factors that Contribute to Soreness After a Car Accident
All of the injuries mentioned above have the potential to cause acute or chronic pain and soreness. Many different elements determine just how mild or severe pain and soreness will be after a car accident.
These elements include the following factors:
- If the airbags deployed
- Where the occupant was seated in the vehicle
- If the occupant was wearing a seat belt, and wearing it properly
- Where the impact occurred on the vehicle
- How fast all vehicles were traveling during the accident
- The size and weight of the vehicles involved
- If the occupant had preexisting injuries
- If the occupant received prompt medical care
Delayed Onset Injuries: Delayed Pain and Discomfort
It is important for anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident to consider the possibility of a delayed onset injury. As the term suggests, these are health conditions that develop after some time has passed after a car accident.
The victim may feel fine in the moments and hours immediately following an accident, only to discover some pain, stiffness, and soreness the next day or the next week. Since some time has passed, they may not even make the connection with the accident and realize their symptoms are from the accident at all.
Besides being the leading complaint on insurance claims in the United States, whiplash is a good example of a delayed onset injury causing pain and soreness. Neck stiffness and discomfort caused by whiplash may not develop until anywhere from 14 to 48 hours after the initial accident.
Abdominal injuries, back injuries, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) can also present symptoms hours or days after the body has experienced a physical trauma such as a car accident.
Why Post-Accident Care is So Important After a Car Accident
Delayed onset injuries demonstrate why it is so important for anyone involved in a car accident to see a doctor. Although catastrophic injuries require immediate care at the scene or in the emergency room, less obvious injuries should be checked out as well. And as mentioned above, car accident victims do not always have symptoms right away, but that does not mean they are not hurt.
Those involved in a car accident should always get checked out by a doctor to rule out serious internal injuries and prevent long-term complications that are more challenging to treat. Chronic pain and soreness can sometimes be avoided or reduced with prompt medical care after a car accident.
I am Still Sore Weeks After My Accident. What Should I Do?
Chronic pain and discomfort impact more than one’s physical well-being. They can have an effect on one’s mental and emotional health as well. Living in constant pain can cause someone to become sad, withdrawn, and depressed. Victims must never give up seeking treatment for ongoing soreness. They should find a doctor who takes the take the time to listen to the patient’s concerns and explore new treatment options when something is not working.
There are many new and innovative pain relief treatments available today:
- Chiropractic therapy
- Massage therapy
- Physical therapy
- Electrical nerve stimulation
- Steroid injections
Sometimes it is not one treatment that works for the long term. It is a thoughtfully designed treatment plan that involves multiple therapies to address the root causes of soreness and pain to provide long-lasting relief.
How Do I Pay for Medical Care After an Accident that was Not My Fault?
It is unfortunate, but in some cases, individuals suffering with soreness and other symptoms after a car accident hold off from going to the doctor for financial reasons. Even with health insurance, co-pays and non-covered expenses for medical care can be quite costly.
Fortunately, for car accident victims in New Jersey and across the United States, compensation may be possible to recover the costs of medical bills and other expenses related to a vehicle accident.
Non-economic Car Accident Damages in New Jersey
Pain is considered a non-economic cost or loss in New Jersey personal injury claims. It is compensable and the actual amount depends on different variables:
- The type of pain and discomfort
- The severity of the pain and discomfort
- If the discomfort responds to treatment
- How the discomfort impacts the person’s everyday life
Although pain and suffering are fairly subjective concepts, the insurance adjuster in an insurance claim, or the judge in a personal injury lawsuit, calculates a total based on the factors mentioned above. Their job is to compensate a person based on how pain and soreness from an injury have negatively impacted the victim’s quality of life.
Why Legal Representation is Critical for Collecting Damages for Pain and Suffering
Because it is difficult to assign a money value for pain and discomfort, it is critical for someone with ongoing symptoms to hire an experienced lawyer to lead their case. Unlike an X-ray that clearly shows a broken bone, proving that someone is in pain and that pain changed their life is not an easy task. However, it is a necessary step to recover costs of treating that pain and, it is hoped, helping one heal physically and emotionally after a serious accident.
A skilled car accident lawyer understands the law and knows the best legal approach to take to show why an accident victim deserves compensation for pain and losses that are not so simple to quantify. Accident victims can help their lawyer by saving any and all documentation related to the accident: photos of the scene, auto repair bills, hospital bills, police reports, and records of lost wages if the person cannot work because of pain.
All of this evidence tells the story of an accident, how the client was injured, and how ongoing soreness has negatively impacted the victim’s life.
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Fight for Clients Dealing with Pain and Suffering
Vehicles can be repaired, but physical pain and soreness that some accident victims experience are not as easy to fix. The Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Ellis Law see firsthand just how debilitating lingering injuries can be. We work tirelessly to advocate for you and to recover all of the compensation you deserve for physical injuries and mental anguish caused by an at-fault driver. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Marlboro Township, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.