What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Did you know that, according to the New York State Department of Health, motor vehicle accidents are the number one leading cause of injury-related death in New York State? Auto accidents are also the second leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and the third leading cause for injury-related emergency department visits.

If you are a car accident victim and are experiencing pain from that accident, knowing the numbers and statistics may not offer you much comfort.  Instead, you may be wondering how an auto accident will affect you as a real person and not as a statistic. You may have many questions, for instance:

  • Do I need legal advice?  
  • Is the settlement offer from my insurance company fair? 
  • What will the long-term physical effects be on my health? 
  • What actions should I take to protect my rights and get through this?

To gain clarity and answer any questions you may have, the best course of action is to discuss your legal options with an experienced physical injury attorney. Raphaelson & Levine, the "Voice of the Injured,” is a law firm that specializes in personal injury claims. 

For a free consultation with a lawyer from Raphaelson & Levine, call 212-268-3222 today. As experienced car accident attorneys, we know what a traumatic event an auto accident can be. Healing and recovery from a major accident can be a long journey, but we at Raphaelson & Levine are here to help to guide you and explain your options along the way.

Common Physical Symptoms After a Car Accident

As you already know, all car accidents are not the same. 

The severity of an auto accident can significantly impact the physical effects felt by the victim. However, regardless of whether it is a minor or major motor vehicle accident, there can be serious and long-lasting effects on a victim’s health. Even though accident victims’ injuries can vary widely, there are common injuries present in many car accident victims.

These common symptoms can include physical symptoms such as:

Having a headache after an auto accident is very common and can mean anything from a minor concern to being a symptom of a more serious issue such as whiplash, a concussion, or brain injury. 

Any unusual symptoms after an accident that may indicate a brain injury, such as, but not limited to: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry Vision
  • Ringing Ears

Regardless of how minor they may appear, these symptoms should be taken seriously. 

Shoulder Pain or Neck Injuries

One of the classic delayed symptoms of a car accident is neck and shoulder pain.  You may not feel any pain the day of or even until a few days after your accident. However, this type of pain can signal whiplash or spinal injury and should not be ignored.

Back Pain 

Again, back pain is a very common symptom after a car accident.  Back issues can be complex and take years to resolve.  Like neck and shoulder pain, back pain can also be a sign of whiplash, spinal injury, or ligament injury.

Numbness or Tingling

This is yet another indication that there may be a larger issue. Numbness or tingling anywhere in the body can point to a herniated disk or a pinched nerve.  

Stomach or Abdominal Pain

We have all experienced a stomach ache or a bit of abdominal pain after a big meal, probably paying little attention to it. However, after a car accident, abdominal pain can be a warning sign of internal bleeding or internal injuries and should not be taken lightly.

Swelling, Bruising, and Soft Tissue Damage 

Soreness, swelling, bruising, and soft tissue damage are all common after a car accident. Only a visit to a medical practitioner can determine the extent of these injuries.

In addition to physical injuries, Mental health-related injury symptoms such as the following are also common:

  • Trouble Remembering or Concentrating
  • Flashbacks
  • Sleep Issues
  • Mood or Personality Changes

Emotional distress can also be a sign of an injury such as Post-traumatic stress disorder, a concussion, or brain injury.

If you are the victim of any car accident, you must seek medical treatment from a licensed medical practitioner, such as a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractic professional.  Of course, if your symptoms are severe, you should seek immediate medical attention. However, even if you feel that your injuries are mild, it is important to visit a medical professional as soon as possible after an accident.

If you have experienced any type of personal injuries, from whiplash, back pain, neck pain, and sprains to more severe injuries like head injuries, broken bones, or spinal cord injuries, there may be a long road to recovery ahead.

Seeking proper medical attention can establish credibility as a responsible individual who has taken appropriate actions to mitigate any injuries.

Remember to keep a written record of and receipts for any medical attention you receive. This includes visits to doctors, physical therapy, chiropractic clinics, caregivers, and the like. 

As with any legal issue, it is much easier to make your case if you have a clear paper trail. Keeping track of your symptoms, expenses, and appointments related to your car accident injury in a small notebook can later you save hours of aggravation in the event it becomes necessary for you to piece together your medical history.

Do Some Car Accident Injuries Show Up Days or Weeks Later?

The answer to this question is that yes, some car accident injuries only appear days, weeks, or even years after an accident. Some types of injuries are fairly obvious and may show up right away. However, others, like internal injuries, may not immediately be apparent due to their nature.  We can not visually see internal injuries, and without pain to indicate their presence, even serious injuries can go undetected for some time. Without proper medical tests, like x-rays or an MRI, internal injuries can be difficult to detect.

Delayed symptoms of car accidents can include but are not limited to:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Blood Clots 
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Injury
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The possible delay in discovering these injuries is another reason why even if you feel that your injuries are mild and you just have a sore body after the car accident, it is important to visit a medical professional as soon as possible after an accident. Doctors can often diagnose and find hidden medical issues, even before they are apparent to the patient.

Keep in mind that in many areas (including New York), there is a statute of limitations in effect. In other words, there is a time limit to making a legal claim. The statute of limitations in New York related to seeking damages for physical injuries related to a car accident is three years from the date of the accident. This possibility of future medical issues makes it important to discuss your claim with a lawyer soon after a car crash to protect your rights in the future. Even if you suspect your physical injuries are mild, complications may appear years down the road. The safest option is to get legal advice even if you think you do not need it.




Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, NY. With over thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).

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