Not every accident results in obvious and immediate injuries. In many cases, an individual can come away from an accident without a single scratch, only to suffer symptoms of a severe injury days, weeks or even months after the original accident. These delayed injuries can throw a complicated branch into an otherwise straightforward personal injury claim.
How Delayed Injuries Occur
Delayed injuries are often the result of how the human body manages stress and pain during an accident. In high-stress situations, the body releases adrenaline, endorphins and other chemicals that diminish immediate pain while providing a boost in energy and strength. This helps the human body survive so-called "fight or flight" situations.
As a result, you might not feel any pain immediately after your accident. But as the effects of the endorphins and adrenaline wear off, the pain from any injuries you've sustained will eventually set in. This process could take place in a matter of hours or it could take a few days or even a few weeks. It all depends on the severity of your injuries, among many other variables.
Common Symptoms to Look Out For
The effects of a delayed injury can manifest themselves as a variety of different symptoms. For injuries involving muscles, tendons and other soft tissue, symptoms typically include pain, swelling and a noticeable decrease in mobility.
Concussions are another type of delayed injury that offers identifiable symptoms, although many of these symptoms can be subtle enough for people to miss. Some of the more obvious symptoms include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and memory problems. Other symptoms, including clouded thinking, lack of energy, unusual sleeping patterns and poor concentration, are harder to spot and more likely to be ignored.
How Delayed Injuries Affect Your Claim
Because people who experience delayed injuries often feel fine in the immediate aftermath, they're less likely to immediately follow up with a doctor's visit or feel the need to file a claim after the accident. It's only when they experience intense pain in the following days or months that they're driven to take action. Unfortunately, this can complicate efforts to get a fair settlement.
Another mistake many people make is signing a liability release or waiver with the insurance company before having a chance to have their injuries properly evaluated. Once you sign on the dotted line, you won't be able to get compensation for injuries that show up later on.
Steps You Can Take
When dealing with delayed injuries, being proactive can help improve your likelihood of receiving fair compensation for your injuries. Here are a few tips you can use to make sure your claim is handled successfully:
- See a doctor immediately after the accident. Even if you don't feel any pain or discomfort, there may be underlying soft tissue injuries or concussive affects that could show up later. In addition, you'll have plenty of documentation proving you sought medical treatment within a reasonable time period.
- Don't dismiss seemingly minor symptoms. A nagging headache or a bit of trouble concentrating could be the result of a concussion.
- Don't sign anything until you've had a medical evaluation. Insurance companies are often eager to settle personal injury claims as soon as possible. However, settling too quickly could prevent you from pursuing further compensation for injuries that manifest themselves after the settlement.
- Act within the statute of limitations. Each state has its own time limit for bringing claims to court. It's important to file your claim within the time limit set by your state; otherwise, you could risk losing your ability to bring forth a claim.
Don't forget that your personal injury attorney can offer the professional guidance needed to help you navigate through your personal injury claims.