If you’ve been rear-ended by another vehicle and think you’re okay, you should still see a doctor for a complete checkup. A doctor can check for signs of the hidden injuries that are often associated with rear-end collisions, as well as provide important baseline medical documentation of your injury, should you ever decide to file a personal injury claim in the future.
What are the hidden injuries?
Many accident victims receive emergency medical treatment at the scene of the accident, and in a nearby hospital emergency room, and feel fine. Most are. Some aren’t.
With some types of injuries, the symptoms may take days or even weeks to develop. Sometimes the full impact of an obvious injury won’t emerge for several weeks or months.
• Cervical strain: The most common injury reported in rear-end crashes is a cervical sprain (whiplash) injury. This occurs when the neck and head of the driver and/or passenger is unexpectedly jerked backward then forward — in a couple of hundredths of a second. The severe flexion and extension cause soft tissue injuries that may be hidden at first. In many cases, whiplash symptoms may take days or weeks to emerge fully, and many wait too long before seeing a doctor, hoping the pain will go away.
• Herniated disc: The quickness of bodily motion in a rear-end collision can cause spinal cord discs to bulge and herniate. This puts pressure on the spinal nerves, triggering pain, and inflammation. The same condition can cause numbness. Spinal injuries may manifest immediately or take several weeks to emerge.
• Concussion/traumatic brain injury: The violent change in posture that happens in a rear-end collision can also cause a concussion, as can hitting your head on the steering wheel, side window, or some other object. Airbag deployment can also sometimes cause a concussion. A moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is when a person experiences changes in brain function for longer than a few minutes following trauma. Symptoms include mild to severe headaches, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, double or blurred vision, balance problems, nausea, and vomiting as well as sensitivity to noise and light. A mild contusion often requires rest and avoidance of strenuous activities. More serious concussions (TBIs) may require more extensive diagnostics and hospitalization.
• Knee injuries: In a rear-end collision, all occupants are subject to uncontrolled body movement. The knee hits the dashboard, for example, which can fracture the patella and other underlying bony tissue, as well as strain cartilage and ligaments. Sometimes the end of the femur can fracture or be severely bruised. Several of these knee injuries may not be fully manifest immediately after the accident.
• Shoulder injuries: Shoulder injuries are also common in rear-end collisions. The exposed shoulder — the one not covered by a seatbelt — can be injured in the same sudden jerking motion of the body that happens when one vehicle impacts another. This is the kind of soft-tissue injury that can impact your ability to sleep, make daily tasks difficult and painful, and take days or weeks to evolve.
If you are concerned about any injury after a car accident, it’s essential to see a doctor as soon as you can for a checkup, just to be safe.
After seeing your doctor, should you find a lawyer?
After you have more information about your injury, are you increasingly concerned about the long-term impact of these injuries on your life and how you’ll pay your bills in the future? If that’s your situation, you may want to find an attorney to help you understand your options — and the steps you need to take — to get the compensation you need and deserve.
The attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm are ready to meet with you at your convenience, to learn more about what happened, evaluate your injuries for legal purposes, and explain your options for recovering damages.