Car Accidents & Delayed Injuries

Contributed by Arkansas Attorney Seth A. White

Many of the symptoms experienced by car accident victims do not occur immediately after a collision.

Our body’s adrenaline and natural coping mechanisms can often mask injuries for several hours or several days.

For example, Delayed-Onset Muscle soreness, a.k.a. “muscle fever,” does not occur for more than 24-48 hours.

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For those who have been in a car accident, here are some common symptoms that may appear several days after the accident:

Table of Contents

Delayed Injuries Commonly Seen In Car Accidents

Neck/Shoulder Pain or Stiffness

Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. [1]

It most often occurs during a rear-end auto accident, but the injury can also result from a sports accident, physical abuse or other trauma.

Mental Fog/Headaches

Headaches commonly develop several days after a car accident.

Headaches and other mental related symptoms must be carefully monitored, as they may be indicative of a concussion.

Common in car crashes, concussions temporarily affect the brain causing confusion and problems with memory, speech, vision, or balance. [2]

A person who suffers from a concussion may appear fine at first but show symptoms days later.

Abdominal Pain

Internal bleeding can remain undiscovered for hours or even days.

Large areas of bruising, accompanied by dizziness or fainting, can signal the potential for internal bleeding.

Internal bleeding can be a life-threatening condition and emergency medical treatment is necessary when it is present.


Your spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that carries messages back and forth from your brain to your muscles and other soft tissues. [3]

Trauma from a car accident can cause spinal cord compression.

That compression can then cause numbness throughout your extremities.

Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD)

Car accidents commonly cause victims to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Victims often experiences disturbing memories and even nightmares.

Young children are especially susceptible, as they may not be able to understand how a traumatic even like a car accident happens.

Just because you felt “fine,” or did not need emergency transport following a collision, does not mean that your body was not exposed to significant trauma.

Many of the symptoms of that trauma do not manifest themselves until several days after the car accident.

If you, or someone you know, has been involved in a car accident, please take all of the proper steps to evaluate any physical symptoms.

If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to visit a medical physician experienced in diagnosing injuries related to car accident trauma.

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