What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Do you know what to expect physically after a car accident?

Thousands of people sustain injuries every day in car accidents. Injuries in these accidents can span from minor to severe. Car accidents can even be deadly.

The adverse effects of these injuries aren’t always immediate, either. Sometimes, the victim of a crash won’t feel the extent of their injuries until much later. This means you may not realize exactly what you’re entitled to in a personal injury case.

In this post, our Bossier City car accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon will describe what to expect physically after a car accident. We’ll look at some of the most common symptoms of car accident injuries, and how they affect crash victims’ recovery. 

What Are Common Physical Symptoms of Car Crash Injuries?

In the wake of a car accident, there will be confusion and uncertainty. You may not feel all of your injuries in the moments after the crash. Below, we’ve listed a few symptoms of car crash injuries you may experience.

Here’s what to expect physically after a car accident:


Headaches are a very common car accident injury. But they aren’t always immediate. You may feel fine right after the accident, then wake up the next morning with the worst headache of your life. It could even manifest several days later. 

A headache after a car accident may result from:

  • whiplash 
  • neck or shoulder tension
  • concussion
  • traumatic brain injury 
  • anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

While the headache itself can be annoying, it may also be a symptom of something more serious. Concussions and traumatic brain injuries, for instance, can cause long-term medical complications if untreated.

If you do experience a headache following a car accident, seek medical attention.

Neck, Shoulder, or Back Pain

Similar to headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pain is very common after an accident. These pains can also occur immediately or several days later.

Causes of neck, shoulder, or upper or lower back pain following a car accident can be:

  • stress
  • muscle tension
  • injury to the joints, tendons, or muscles
  • nerve or tissue damage 

What to Expect Physically After A Car Accident: Bruising 

Bruising is a result of damage to the blood vessels under your skin. You may not see bruising immediately following a crash; the blood may take time to reach the surface of your skin and become visible.

You may think of bruising as a pretty minor injury. Much of the time, it is. Most bruising will heal completely on its own. However, extensive bruising may indicate damage to the internal organs. See a doctor if you have bruising, tenderness, or discoloration that doesn’t improve. 

What to Expect Physically After A Car Accident: Numbness or Tingling

Nerve and tissue damage can cause numbness and tingling. The numbness and tingling will most likely occur in the neck, back, shoulder, or hands and feet. 

If you experience these symptoms after a car crash, you should seek medical attention.

Changes in Mood

In personal injury settlements after a car accident, physical injuries are typically the focus. However, car accidents can also cause emotional damage

You may notice increases in anxiety, depression, or mood swings. These can even indicate an underlying physical injury, such as a concussion.

Upset Stomach or Abdominal Pain

During a car accident, your seatbelt will pull very tightly across your body. This may cause bruising or other injuries to the stomach area. If you experience pain or nausea, tell your doctor so you can rule out conditions like internal bleeding.

What to Expect Physically After A Car Accident: Swelling 

Swelling is also very common after your body experiences trauma. 

You could experience swelling from tissue damage, pulled muscles, or sprains. When an area swells, it causes a lot of stiffness and pain. You can take care of most swelling at home by resting, icing, and elevating the area. 

However, you should still alert your doctor to any swelling. You may need long term treatment like physical therapy if the injury is severe.

Ringing in the Ears

Tinnitus is another name for this condition. It is a result of minor or major damage to your ear drums.

This kind of damage to the ear drums can result from loud noises, stress, or a concussion. 

Trouble Concentrating or Remembering 

During a car accident, you are at high risk for head injuries. These injuries, as well as the stress and trauma of the accident, can leave you feeling foggy or confused. 

This particular symptom can be subtle. But if you are having unusual trouble concentrating after a car accident, you should see a doctor. This may be a symptom of a more serious problem, like a traumatic brain injury. 

Blurry Vision or Dizziness

Many of the other symptoms we’ve talked about, like whiplash or PTSD, can cause blurred vision or dizziness. These symptoms could take anywhere from a day to a month to develop. If you experience these symptoms and they do not improve, seek medical attention. 

Why Do Some Car Accident Injuries Not Develop Immediately?

Now we know a little about what to expect physically after a car accident. Let’s talk about why some of those physical symptoms don’t manifest until later. There is a mental and a physical reason.

First, immediately after a car accident your mind is preoccupied with how to handle it. You worry about the damage to your car, the damage to the other person’s car, whether anyone is hurt, etc. You probably aren’t thinking too much about your own injuries.

Second, and most importantly, in a crash your body is flooded with adrenaline. This is a hormone that keeps the human body alert during a fight or flight situation. They also suppress pain. You may not feel any pain at all until your stress hormones are back in balance.

What to Expect Physically After A Car Accident: Recovery

The length of your recovery depends entirely on your accident and your injuries. Even if you know what to expect physically after a car accident, you may not know what to expect for recovery. Factors like your age, health status, and treatment may play a role.

Working with a car accident lawyer is helpful to many injury victims after a crash. If you were not at fault, dealing with the insurance companies and with your recovery can be stressful. Hiring a car accident lawyer soon after your accident allows you to focus on healing.

Call Gordon & Gordon Today

If you have questions about what to expect physically after a car accident, call Gordon & Gordon. If you or a loved one has experienced injuries after a car accident and you believe you were not at fault, we can help. Call us at 318.716.HELP. You can also leave us a message on our website.