After a car accident, there are lots of things that happen. You try to remember to take photos, call 911, talk to the police and take care of the people around you. All that time, you're running on pure adrenaline. You may not think about the care you need, even if it's suggested to you. You might think you're fine, despite the fact that you've been in a significant crash.
There is a possibility that you'll feel the pain of injuries once the adrenaline of the crash wears off. Within a few hours to days following the crash, bruising and pain develops. Sometimes, injuries you didn't notice become painfully obvious after you've refused care.
The good news is that you can get medical care at any time, you just need to do so as soon as possible. It's not unusual for a hospital to see a patient who was in a crash hours or days before and to find injuries they previously didn't realize they had. It's most important to link that injury to the crash, so the sooner you see a medical professional, the better.
What kinds of pain are delayed following a crash?
Some common pain that may not appear until hours or days following a crash include back pain, abdominal pain, neck or shoulder pain, headaches or numbness. Sometimes, whiplash develops, for example, as swelling occurs. This doesn't always happen immediately. Similarly, abdominal injuries may begin small and get worse over time, leading to pain that was negligible in the past becoming very serious in a matter of days.
Another thing to consider is mental health. It's not unusual to see a person develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a crash. Sometimes, people don't know they're suffering from this until time has passed and the rush of medical appointments and care has calmed. At that point, a fear of getting into a vehicle, night terrors and other signs of PTSD may emerge.
What should you do if you have delayed pain?
If you have delayed pain, it's a good idea to head to a hospital as soon as you can. There could be an injury that requires quick care to prevent serious complications. Once you get medical treatment and have your documents, remember that you can file a claim against the driver who hit you. You still retain the right, even if you wait to see a doctor.