car accident attorneyIf you have had the misfortune of being involved in a car accident, you are probably wondering what you should do next.  Before you worry about the legalities of the accident, your number one priority should be your health.

After a Serious Car Accident

For car accidents in which any drivers or passengers sustained serious injuries, it is important to call an ambulance to have those with major injuries checked out by medical professionals.  If the paramedics determine that you need to go to the emergency room, follow their advice, even if you think you may not be injured that badly.

Medical Care May Still Be Needed After a Minor Accident

If you were involved in a minor car accident, you may not need an ambulance or immediate medical attention, but you should still see a doctor as soon as possible.  The reason you should still seek medical care is that you may have internal injuries or soft tissue injuries that you may not notice right away.  Sometimes, you may not even realize that you are injured because of the way the body responds to pain signals and stress due to the accident.  Immediately after the accident, your body may produce endorphins, which combined with a rush of adrenaline, can mask the pain until some time has passed and you begin to recover from the stress and shock of the accident.

Common Symptoms of Automobile Accident Injuries That May Be Delayed

Even with minor collisions, it is common for injuries to still occur.  These injuries tend to be soft tissue injuries, such as back strains, that you may not notice right away.  Below are some symptoms that you may notice the day after an accident or a few days later.

  • Headaches – You may notice a headache right away, or it may occur a day or two after the accident. This symptom often arises due to whiplash, however; it may also be a symptom of a concussion, or something very serious, like a brain bleed.
  • Back or neck pain – Back pain is a common symptom after a car accident. This symptom is often a result of a cervical strain or sprain (in the case of neck pain) or a lumbar strain or sprain (in the case of lower back pain).  Less often, it is due to a herniated disc.
  • Neck and shoulder pain – Neck and shoulder pain are classic symptoms associated with whiplash. Whiplash commonly occurs after rear-end car accidents at low speeds, often less than 15 miles per hour.  Whiplash injuries can range from minor to severe.  X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are occasionally necessary to rule out more serious injury to the neck, shoulder, and back.
  • Abdominal pain and swelling – If you experience abdominal pain and swelling after a car accident, you should see a doctor right away as these are signs that may indicate internal bleeding. Other symptoms of internal bleeding include dizziness, fainting, and significant areas of dark purple bruising.  Internal bleeding can be life-threatening, so it is important to be aware of the signs so that you seek medical attention immediately if internal bleeding is suspected.

Non-Physical Injuries

In addition to physical injuries, which may be obvious immediately or shortly after the car accident, you may also suffer mental or emotional injuries.  These types of injuries may include things like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.  If you experience symptoms of PTSD, such as disturbing and vivid memories of the collision, nightmares, and flashbacks, you should see a doctor.  Some people experience anxiety after a car accident and may have trouble convincing themselves to drive again or ride in a car with someone else driving.  It is worthwhile to see a doctor for these kinds of symptoms as well, as you can start to feel like yourself again with treatment and possibly medication.

Your number one focus after getting in a car accident should be to take care of your health by seeking treatment right away for any immediate concerns.  You should also stay vigilant over the next few days following the accident, so you can address any symptoms that pop up after the initial shock of the accident has worn off.  After you have taken care of your health, the next step should be speaking with an attorney to understand your legal rights.  You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries in the accident if the other party was at fault.  To schedule your free consultation, contact California personal injury attorney Johann Hall today.