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So You’ve Been in a Car Accident: What You Don’t Know Might Still Hurt You
Fight or Flight Hormones Can Block Pain from a Significant Injury For Several Hours, Days Afterwards
Whether you’ve been in a major collision or a minor fender bender, typically the first response of any car accident victim is “I’m okay.” Los Angeles paramedics and other first responders hear it all the time, regardless of the severity of the crash. In fact, patients frequently report that the pain from a soft tissue or other automotive-related injury can take hours or even days to set in. Often victims will genuinely feel perfectly fine in the minutes following even an extremely serious collision.
No Pain at the Time of the Accident Doesn’t Mean No Injury
What’s going on? It’s a natural process related to our survival instinct. In the terrifying moments of any accident, your body undergoes a well-known “fight or flight” response, releasing endorphins and adrenaline into your bloodstream to cope and overcome whatever immediate challenges lie ahead. This powerful physical process sometimes even allows an ordinary person to do extraordinary things: escape a burning vehicle, lift a damaged car to rescue another person, or just stay alive during periods of extreme physical duress.
These chemicals block pain, and provide a shot of extra energy. They’re also why accident victims frequently act strangely calm, or even inappropriately at the scene. They may laugh, or try to walk away, or ask to drive home despite the circumstances. People describe experiencing feelings of confusion or unreality, often forgetting later what was even said or what transpired immediately after the crash.
Feeling Just “Okay” After a Car Accident Doesn’t Mean You’re In the Clear
A byproduct of this response is absence of pain. The good news? Your injuries don’t hurt immediately. The bad news? They could very well be painful later. The consequences of a mild soft tissue injury, or even severe damage to your ligaments, tendon or muscles, may take hours, days or weeks to appear. Pain, swelling, and bruising may well develop several days after the accident. Frequently, accident victims have already refused medical attention by the time they are rendered nearly or totally incapacitated by their injuries.
Moreover, concussions and other serious head injuries do not necessarily result in apparent symptoms right away. In fact, the sleepiness, nausea, headache, difficulty remembering facts or lack of concentration caused by damage to the brain or skull may not be seen right away as anything other than the normal emotional response to a serious accident. It goes without saying that these injuries can be life threatening without immediate treatment. Familiarize yourself with the signs of a head injury and monitor the victim over time.
Been in a Traffic Collision? Get to a Doctor
The takeaway? If you’ve been in an automotive collision of any kind, you may very well need to get checked out by a physician. If you or someone you love exhibits the signs of a head injury, pain, or loss of mobility after an accident, it’s time to visit the doctor, sooner rather than later. It may also be prudent to visit a physician or Urgent Care for an examination even if the victim isn’t experiencing discomfort of any kind. Safety is paramount.
What’s the Rush? Do Not Sign Anything Before a Real Medical Exam.
Remember, insurance adjusters are by definition in a hurry to settle a claim. You may be asked to sign a release in exchange for a quick settlement from an insurance company soon after the accident.
There’s no need to hurry. You don’t want to sign away any rights to filing a legal claim before you’re sure (and your physician is sure) you’re absolutely okay. Remember, your health and well being may not necessarily adhere to an insurance company’s timetable. Insist on taking things at your pace. Make treating and healing from the accident you’ve endured your first priority. If you or someone you know in the Pasadena, West Covina or Long Beach area has been in an injury accident and needs help, call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Have questions? Not sure if you have a legal claim after a traffic collision? Schedule a FREE consultation today with Darren Manibog to discuss your case. Call 1-800-MANIBOG. We look forward to speaking with you.