According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly three million people suffer non-fatal injuries every year in car accidents. While the seriousness of these injuries range from minor to severe, many of these victims walk away with a common question: is my soreness normal, or should I see a doctor? It is generally wise to seek medical care right away, even if you only suffer minor aches and pains. The adrenaline from an auto accident often masks the signs of injuries that need treatment. What’s more, the symptoms of serious injuries don’t always manifest right away. If you’re feeling sore, it’s difficult to know how long you will feel that way because that depends on many factors. While you might estimate the time by comparing your symptoms to other injuries you’ve had, you should never hesitate to seek medical attention if you believe you have an injury.
How Long Should You Be Sore?It stands to reason that the severity of your injury goes a long way in determining your recovery time. The more severe your injury, the longer your symptoms will persist and your recovery time will be. If you have minor bumps and bruises, your soreness should subside in a few days. Here are some examples of typical recovery times for common car accident injuries:
Broken BonesIf you sustain a broken arm or leg in a car accident, you’re looking at weeks to months of recovery, with much of that time in an immobilizing device. For severe breaks, surgery may be necessary, significantly lengthening your recovery time.
ConcussionsMany car accident victims suffer concussions. When your head suffers trauma or jolts from the impact of the accident, your brain can strike the inside of your skull. The result can be a concussion with symptoms like severe headaches, nausea, blurry vision, and dizziness. Unfortunately, there are some victims who never fully recover from their injury. These long-term symptoms can include erratic sleep, fatigue, and loss of concentration, among others.
Muscle Sprains and StrainsThe sheer force of an accident can impact your entire body, including your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. One common soft tissue injury from car crashes is whiplash, which typically causes muscle strains or ligament damage. The prognosis for how long you might be in pain will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some whiplash symptoms can last several months or longer, and some victims have lasting pain and movement limitations particularly when whiplash is combined with other neck conditions.
Collarbone and Rib InjuriesBreaking your collarbone or ribs can be excruciatingly painful and take a long time to heal. Most collarbone injuries take several weeks or months to heal, or longer if surgery is required. Rib injuries can also be painful for months, and they might involve additional lasting complications, such as a punctured lung.
Facial InjuriesDuring an accident, your face can hit your steering wheel or airbag or get hit by broken glass. Your face can suffer injuries in several different ways, causing injuries such as bruises, fractures, or lacerations. Some of these injuries can heal relatively quickly, while others persist and might require reconstructive surgery. It’s important to mention that many injuries can last a lifetime, particularly injuries to the back, brain, or neck. Also, many people suffer psychological injuries from motor vehicle accidents that often lead to lasting mental or emotional trauma.
When Should I Seek Medical Attention?If you were in a car accident and even suspect that you sustained injuries, you should seek immediate medical care. Many people fail to recognize serious injuries, chalking it up to common soreness that they believe is “normal” following an accident. Others diagnose themselves as fine, not knowing that symptoms of serious injuries may not manifest immediately. A visit to the emergency room or your doctor’s office can clear up a lot of confusion. It’s important to diagnose issues affecting your health right away so you can begin your recovery with an informed course of action.
Why Contacting a Car Accident Attorney Makes SenseOnce you are physically able, it’s always good to consult a car accident attorney to discover your rights and begin to seek financial compensation for physical, mental, and emotional damages. If you suffer an injury through no fault of your own, you shouldn’t have to be responsible for your medical bills and other losses. If you have health insurance it may help with some of the medical expenses, but most people still have out-of-pocket expenses that add up quickly and the responsible driver is liable for all of your medical care costs (even if paid by health insurance). Likewise, if you miss time at work because of your injuries or treatment resulting in lost income, you deserve to recover those lost wages. Even if you receive disability payments, the responsible party is still liable for the full amount of your lost wages. Instead of toughing it out and facing the financial burden of medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering on your own, seek legal counsel. A skilled lawyer can:
- Investigate the accident: Once you begin working with an attorney, they will launch an investigation into your case. They can acquire the video (if it's available), pictures, witness testimony, medical records, and other evidence on your behalf.
- Answer your questions: Every accident is unique, and sometimes it’s hard to know how to handle your specific situation. A good attorney can answer all your questions and lay out your options for you.
- File for compensation for damages: Whether submitting a claim to an insurance company or filing a lawsuit in court, an attorney can make sure your case is handled correctly with the proper procedure to protect your interests.
- Defend you from pushback: Insurance companies want to resolve cases by paying as little as possible. Your attorney will make sure that the responsible driver’s insurance company will not be able to “low ball” you or take advantage of your inexperience to reduce the value of your case.
- Negotiate your settlement: The majority of claims never reach a courtroom. That’s why it makes sense to have an attorney who negotiates for a living to pursue a just settlement that accounts for your monetary and noneconomic damages.