Delayed Injuries After an Accident – Never Say “I’m Fine”

By Greg Kohn

When you are in an accident and go for medical treatment, there is the very real possibility that they will not be able to identify all of your injuries at that time. Some injuries, such as soft tissue injuries or broken bones, are relatively simple to identify and diagnose visually, or with basic triage and testing. With some other more serious injuries, however, there is the potential for the onset of symptoms to be delayed, or even masked by the symptoms of other injuries. 

Getting in a high-speed accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, for example, can lead to potential brain and spinal injuries that could take significant amounts of time to evaluate and diagnose. If you are pursuing damages, an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney will make sure that all of the medical evidence is in before looking at any possible settlement offers. 

What Causes Delayed Injuries?

It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that they feel alright the day a car accident occurred, but the next day they feel like they were hit by a truck. The main reason many people don’t feel the true pain of their injuries right away is that a hormone called adrenaline kicks in, often giving you temporary pain relief. Once the adrenaline subsides, you feel the full extent of your injuries.

Common Delayed Injuries

  • Brain Injuries
  • Abdominal Injuries
  • Damage or injury to internal organs
  • Whiplash and Back Injuries
  • Injuries to Joints, Muscles, and Ligaments

Symptoms to Look For

  • Headache or blurred vision
  • Backache
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Change in personality or thinking, particularly emotional instability
  • Difficulty with coordination or movement, including tremors or shaking

Be Specific

Whether you are being asked by an insurance agent or your medical team, always be specific and complete when describing your physical condition. If you are still in pain, explain this to your doctor. Many patients find it helpful to keep a symptom diary, so they can keep track of the symptoms they feel from day to day.

How Long After an Accident Can Injuries Show Up?

There is a good chance that your doctor or other medical professionals will be able to identify all of your injuries relatively immediately, however, there are situations where the injury does not manifest until days or even weeks later.

Some internal injuries like deep bruising or organ damage from seat belt restraint can sometimes take 3-5 days to become evident. In the case of brain bleeds and other traumatic brain injuries, symptoms may not appear for nearly a month as the condition progresses.

Never Say “I’m Fine”

Expect a phone call from the insurance adjuster in the weeks or more often, days, following an accident. One of the things they will try to do is to sound like they are concerned with your condition, often asking how you’re doing or how you’re “holding up”. 

In most cases, people will respond with “I’m fine”, or worse “feeling a little better”, which is what they want you to say on a recorded line. Let them know you are in pain, and that they should speak with your attorney. If you are involved in need of an attorney after being involved in a car accident contact our office for a free consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.