After a car accident or other personal injury, your harm may not be apparent right away. While many accidents cause very serious harm that you can see immediately, other types of harm can appear much later. You may even feel perfectly fine right after the accident. The symptoms can then start to appear later and are often a sign of significant issues caused by the accident.
After an accident, it is critical that injured people be on the lookout for delayed onset of injuries from an accident. These symptoms could appear days, weeks, or even months after a collision or injury. Even minor headaches or other seemingly small symptoms could be indicators of something much more dangerous.
A person injured in an accident needs the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to help. An attorney can help you determine your legal rights and how to seek appropriate compensation for your injuries. You might be entitled to compensation for your delayed onset injuries.
How Common Is It for Injuries To Not Manifest Immediately?
In serious accidents, it is very common for symptoms to be delayed. Delayed onset of symptoms and medical conditions is far more common than most people think. For example, imagine you are driving down a road and stop at a stop sign. The driver behind you slams into the back of your car. The airbag deploys and your seat belt helps keep you safe. The rush of adrenaline surges in your body and you're in shock over what happened.
Right after the accident, you feel mostly fine. A few scrapes and bruises, but otherwise, you're feeling alright. However, days later you get serious headaches, back pain, and it hurts to move your neck. You see a doctor and learn you have significant whiplash and the symptoms were simply delayed. This is a common scenario that many accident victims face after an accident.
Reasons Your Symptoms May Be Delayed
Symptoms may be delayed for several different reasons. These reasons may include, but are not limited to:
- Adrenaline. A rush of adrenaline is common after a major accident. Adrenaline naturally reduces the sensation of pain to allow you to get through a traumatic event. When this adrenaline wears off, you will often notice the fuller extent of your injuries from the accident.
- Whiplash. Whiplash symptoms often take days or weeks to manifest fully. The damage to your neck, spine, or ligaments can become increasingly painful over time and with use. You will likely notice the severity of your injuries over time rather than immediately following the accident.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries Traumatic brain injuries are caused by an impact by the brain against the skull or by other objects. This can include concussions, and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can take a while to notice. You may not even recognize your other symptoms are because of a brain injury until later.
- Mental Trauma. Serious accidents can also lead to mental trauma. This might include conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and even depression. This is not something you notice immediately after the accident but rather after some time has passed.
These delayed onset symptoms may still be compensable in a personal injury lawsuit. A knowledgeable attorney understands how to investigate these symptoms and prove they were caused by the accident. Speak to your attorney about any delayed symptoms you have discovered and seek medical treatment for them immediately.
Common Types of Injuries With Delayed Onset Symptoms
Several types of injuries may occur with delayed onset symptoms. These injuries can be just as serious or even more so than injuries that cause immediate pain or symptoms after the accident. These injuries might include:
- Sprains and strains
- Spinal cord injuries or herniated disks
- Head or brain injuries
- Undetected fractures or broken bones
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
These and many other conditions can occur well after your initial accident. Even if you are unsure, speak with your doctor and attorney about what symptoms you are noticing now.
Symptoms To Look For Following Your Accident
After an accident, you should be on the lookout for symptoms that could point to the existence of a latent injury. These symptoms could be evidence of a much larger problem caused by your motor vehicle or other accident.
- Trouble sleeping or waking up
- Memory loss or other memory problems
- Sensitivity to loud noises or light
- Changes in personality or normal behavior
- Sudden aggression or violent behavior
- Blurred vision, nausea, or dizziness
- Shoulder, back, or neck pain
- Chronic headaches (both minor and severe)
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Abdominal pain or bruising
- Muscle stiffness
- Confusion or difficulty maintaining clear thinking
- Bruising that does not appear to heal
- Changes in skin color, such as yellowing or reddening
These symptoms and anything else that seems out of place from your normal health could mean you have a problem. Seek medical attention quickly to protect your health and create evidence of the injuries you have suffered.
How Delayed Onset Injuries Affect Liability in a Personal Injury Case
Delayed injuries can affect your personal injury case depending on how they are handled. Too many people mistakenly think that symptoms that show up later are not a part of their case. The opposite is usually true. In fact, many injured victims will not see the full extent of their injuries until several weeks after the accident, or even longer. Delayed onset injuries are a common part of accident cases such as:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck collisions
- Product liability cases
- Offshore accidents
- Premises liability cases
- Workers' compensation lawsuits
If you have been in an accident and suffered delayed onset injuries, you still have the right in most cases to pursue compensation. There are a few legal principles that can affect your right to compensation.
The Statute of Limitations in Delayed Onset Cases
A statute of limitations is a period of time in which you are allowed to bring your case. This is a time limit on when you can file after the accident occurs. How long you have to file depends on where your case is filed. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is one year from the date the accident occurred. This is a very short time period in which to bring a claim. Delayed onset symptoms that appear after this time may only be compensable if the case was filed before the statute of limitations expires, subject to certain exceptions. The best practice is to approach an attorney right away to avoid this potential situation.
The Texas statute of limitations period for most personal injury claims is two years. This two-year period starts from the date of the accident in most situations, even when delayed symptoms are present. Certain exceptions may exist, such as the discovery rule. This rule means that the time period may not begin to run until the victim discovers the injuries or reasonably should have discovered them. This can be an important exception when delayed onset symptoms occur that were caused by an accident. The best way to know if this applies to your case is to speak with a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in personal injury law.
Failure To Treat Delayed Symptoms Can Harm Your Case
You should be vigilant about addressing delayed symptoms not only because of how they may affect your health but also because of how they may affect your case. Any delayed diagnosis could potentially result in a reduction of the compensation you are owed as part of your personal injury lawsuit. A defendant might try to argue they owe less because you contributed to your own harm by not handling your injuries right away.
Importance of Comprehensive Medical Care After an Accident
After an accident, it is crucial you receive medical care. First, it makes sure you are safe and healthy. That is the most important thing. Many delayed symptoms occur because of a problem you could have fixed earlier. This is important for your health, but it could also affect your case. Imagine you're hurt in a car accident, but feel fine at first so you don't go to the doctor. Later you find out you have a fracture in your spine that has worsened since the accident and caused other problems. The defendant may try to argue that if you had received medical treatment earlier, the damages would not be so high. This argument could negatively impact the compensation you are owed.
Additionally, comprehensive medical care creates the evidence your personal injury lawyer needs to help prove the case. Your lawyer must connect your injuries to the accident itself for you to win compensation. This usually requires medical evidence of some sort, especially to establish the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Seeking medical care provides this evidence and shows that you took responsible steps to protect your health. This may help reduce any argument that you caused any of your own injuries by failing to seek medical treatment.
Physical Evaluations After an Accident
Part of many personal injury cases is a physical evaluation of the victim. This evaluation is often part of the victim's medical treatment at the outset. The initial physical is meant to ensure you are healthy or that any issues will be appropriately addressed. This evaluation is usually initiated by the accident victim as opposed to the defendant.
Another common physical evaluation is referred to as an independent medical examination (IME). An IME is often requested by the defendant to determine the full scope of the victim's injuries. This is usually performed by a defense expert or neutral third party who makes an independent evaluation of the victim's health and physical condition. This and any other physical evaluations are typically used as evidence at trial or as part of settlement negotiations.
These evaluations often help catch delayed onset injuries. As a matter of how they function, these continued physical evaluations happen well after the initial accident. Because of this, they may discover injuries that were caused by the accident you didn't notice at first. This can be helpful to your health as well as the success of your personal injury case.
True Cost of Care
Comprehensive medical care is expensive. When another person's negligence caused your injuries, you should not be on the hook for these incredibly expensive costs. Further, physical evaluations and medical care help discover what it truly costs to help you recover. Recovery can take a lot of time or may require ongoing care for many years to come. Some injuries may even require permanent care and continued medical attention.
Quality medical care and evaluations help establish the true cost of care you have faced and will continue to face in the future. This is vital evidence in your personal injury lawsuit. You deserve financial compensation for what you have truly paid and will have to pay in the future. The right medical care and an appropriate investigation by your attorney can help determine the true cost of care in your case.
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do For You
Many people are unsure about what to do next after an accident. Your injuries and the financial troubles they can bring can be overwhelming. It is important to have a trained professional by your side who knows how to fight for you and your recovery. A dedicated legal team knows how to:
- Investigate how the accident occurred
- Collect evidence necessary to prove the case
- Provide advice on how to protect your health and finances after an accident
- Seek compensation from the responsible party or parties
- Handle simple and complex personal injury cases
Those who choose to go it alone often find themselves overwhelmed by the complexity of the legal system. Courts are required to hold self-represented people to the same standards as licensed attorneys. They are expected to know the law, legal procedure, the rules of evidence, and much more. This often means that simple mistakes can have big consequences, including the potential dismissal of a case that otherwise should be very successful.
The Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers know how to handle delayed onset symptom cases and seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call 888-492-5532 for a consultation on your case. Our dedicated attorneys are here to help.