Some of the most common car accident injuries don’t show symptoms right away. Whiplash, soft tissue damage, and even brain trauma might not be immediately apparent to the victim.
If you were hurt in a collision but your symptoms were latent, you may still be able to recover compensation for healthcare expenses, lost income, and other damages; however, it is critical that you visit a doctor as soon as possible to document your injuries. You should also speak to a personal injury attorney about your case because it is likely that the insurance company will dispute your claim since you did not seek immediate medical attention.
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we know what it takes to find success in injury claims involving latent symptoms. All initial consultations are free, and you won’t have to pay any fees unless we win your case through a settlement or verdict. Schedule a consultation today by calling (562) 206-1939.
Soft Tissue Damage Often Manifests Latent Symptoms
Whiplash is one of the most common types of auto accident injuries. Also called “neck strain,” whiplash occurs when a person’s head jolts forward and then backward abruptly due to a sudden impact, causing the neck muscles to overstretch.
Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all considered “soft tissue.” When a vehicle comes to a sudden stop, the soft tissues of drivers and passengers may endure a tremendous amount of force. This can lead to swelling, reduced mobility, and pain; however, the symptoms of a soft tissue injury often take 24 hours or more to manifest. In some cases, weeks may pass before victims realize they need medical attention.
If you notice any symptoms of whiplash or another soft tissue injury, you should visit a doctor immediately for an evaluation. The sooner you document your injuries, the easier it may be for your attorney to tie them to the accident.
The Symptoms of a Concussion Might Not Be Immediately Apparent
A concussion occurs when the head is jolted violently and the brain strikes the inside of the skull. It is considered a mild traumatic brain injury.
The symptoms of a concussion are sometimes obvious. For example, if you lose consciousness or feel disoriented at the accident scene, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit a doctor. In other cases, the symptoms are subtle, and victims might not think they need medical attention.
Below are a few symptoms of a concussion that might be delayed but warrant a medical evaluation:
- A feeling of pressure inside the skull;
- Confusion or “brain fog;”
- Slurred speech; and
Subtle Symptoms That Might Indicate Serious Injuries After a Car Accident
If you were involved in a collision but your symptoms seemed minor, you might have decided to forego the medical evaluation. After all, visiting a doctor can be time consuming and expensive, but it is not uncommon for serious injuries to show only minor symptoms over the hours and even days following an accident.
Below are a few symptoms that might seem benign at first but warrant an immediate medical evaluation:
- Persistent Headaches: These could indicate a variety of car accident injuries including whiplash, a concussion, or a neck injury.
- Shoulder or Neck Pain: This is a common symptom of whiplash. Although minor cases of whiplash may heal without medical intervention, it’s always a good idea to undergo an evaluation since your doctor might recommend wearing a neck brace and avoiding strenuous activity.
- Lower Back Pain: This is another potential symptom of whiplash. Lower back pain may also indicate another type of soft tissue injury or a herniated disc.
- Stomach Pain: Internal injuries can be serious and potentially fatal if left untreated. You should seek medical attention right away if you feel abdominal pain after a car accident.
Don’t Sign a Release of Liability Before Consulting an Attorney
Here’s a scenario that plays out fairly often: A car accident occurs and results in property damage. The victim files a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company but only seeks compensation for vehicle repairs. Over the following days, the symptoms of an injury start to manifest.
If the property damage claim is approved, you might be tempted to accept the settlement so you can move on with life, but if you sign a release of liability, which is customary as part of settling a car accident claim, you will not be able to pursue further compensation if you are diagnosed with an injury stemming from the collision.
The bottom line: You should never accept a settlement from the insurance company without your attorney’s approval. In fact, it is best to let your lawyer handle all correspondence and negotiations with the claims adjuster. Your lawyer might choose to postpone settlement negotiations until you have reached maximum medical improvement so the full extent of your damages is known.
Personal Injury Claimants Have a Duty to Mitigate Their Damages
If you were hurt in a car accident, you have a duty to take reasonable steps to minimize the healthcare expenses, lost income, and other damages related to the crash. One of these steps is to seek a prompt medical evaluation so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.
If you did not visit a doctor shortly after the collision, the insurance company might argue that you failed to mitigate your damages and, therefore, you should be held at least partially liable for your medical costs and other losses. But if your injuries had latent symptoms, it might not have been possible for you to know that you were injured in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean the insurance company won’t dispute your claim.
This is why it’s so important to consult a car accident lawyer. A seasoned attorney can help you take the necessary steps to demonstrate that your symptoms were latent and that, under the circumstances, you took all reasonable steps to mitigate your damages. If necessary, your lawyer may bring in medical experts to provide testimony.
Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Car Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were injured in a crash due to another driver’s negligence, you shouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for your medical bills and lost income. The smartest step you can take to protect your rights is to consult a personal injury lawyer with experience handling cases like yours.
With more than 30 years in legal practice, attorney Michael D. Waks is well-versed in the laws and procedures that govern car accident claims. He works with a broad network of medical experts and other specialists who can assist with the investigation and may provide testimony to support your case.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF
Because a car accident can happen at any time, it’s important that you’re always ready for the worst-case scenario. Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF outlines the information you need to gather from drivers and witnesses at the scene to give your claim the best possible chance of success. Download it HERE and keep it in your glove compartment so you’re always prepared.
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