After a car accident, those involved are often in a state of shock. In most cases, the body reacts to an accident with a rush of adrenaline. Adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands into the bloodstream, which along with other stress hormones, causes the cardiovascular system to kick into overdrive. The heart beats faster, blood pressure goes up, breathing increases, and blood supply to the heart, lungs, and muscles also increase.
During a fight-or-flight response, glucose is also released into the bloodstream to increase metabolism. This provides excess energy and increases mental focus, sharpens vision, and heightens hearing and awareness. Other physical changes also occur, such as increased strength and physical ability. Meanwhile, sensitivity to pain decreases.
Someone in a car accident experiencing a fight-or-flight response may have no idea they are injured. The suppression of pain is a short-term survival mechanism. The lack of pain after an accident should not be viewed as a sign that all is well. This should not be taken as a sign that the injuries are minor.
Many serious conditions are masked by the adrenaline rush or have delayed onset of symptoms. It is always important to get checked out by a medical professional after a car accident. While superficial bruises, cuts, and broken bones are obvious, other serious injuries are less noticeable.
Many symptoms can indicate that a serious injury has occurred. These do not necessarily occur at the site of injury. The symptoms may not seem severe at first. However, if they are left unchecked, they can lead to irreversible organ damage and could be fatal.
Headaches are a common indicator of severe injuries. These are typically associated with brain injuries. Sometimes, several days can pass before an injured person realizes they have headaches that do not resolve. Headaches may be an indication of a concussion, which is considered a mild brain injury. Symptoms can also include nausea and vomiting, and/or difficulty with balance, memory, concentration, and/or coordination.
A concussion is a common injury that can result when an accident suddenly causes an accelerating vehicle to stop. The rapid deceleration causes the brain to hit against the skull. Effects of a concussion can be temporary or can worsen into a more serious brain injury.
Headaches from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by more severe trauma and can indicate excess intercranial pressure in the skull or fractures. Failure to control bleeding and/or relieve pressure in the skull can result in severe brain damage or death.
Numbness in an arm, leg, fingers, or toes can be a sign of nerve damage. Loss of sensation is usually associated with spinal cord injuries. Nerves from all parts of the body pass through the spinal cord. Damage to vertebrae where these nerves enter the spine can result in the nerve being damaged, making it difficult for the nerve to relay sensations to its associated body part.
Soreness is often an indication of damage to soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Impact from a car accident can cause whiplash and related conditions, where the body does not have time to react in a protective manner to avoid injury.
The soft tissues can be stretched beyond normal limits. The result can be sprains and strains, which can cause pain, inflammation, limited range of motion, and even loss of function. These conditions can improve with time but will generally require medical intervention, such as taking anti-inflammatory drugs, using slings or soft casts, and physical therapy to rebuild strength to ensure the return of normal function.
One serious injury that can go unnoticed after an accident is internal bleeding. Trauma to internal organs can damage them, leading to the loss of blood. Initially, the symptoms of internal bleeding are relatively nondescript. They can include feeling tired or heavy.
If left untreated, the internal injury can lead to significant loss of blood and pooling of blood within and/or around the damaged organ. The bleeding disrupts hemodynamic balance. It can lead to destruction of the damaged organ, thrombus formation, embolization, and death.
Each state has its own laws regarding insurance coverage and liability for car accidents. In Pennsylvania, drivers can choose to purchase no-fault car insurance. With this form of insurance, a policy owner can file a claim under their personal injury protection coverage and seek compensation up to the coverage limit for medical costs for injuries sustained, lost income, and other financial losses related to the accident. The policy owner can be compensated regardless of whether or not they caused the crash.
Pennsylvania also allows for a person injured in a car accident to file a claim directly against an at fault driver. There is also a modified comparative negligence rule that applies if both parties share some responsibility for the accident. In these cases, a jury may be asked to calculate the total amount of the plaintiff’s damages and the percentage of fault attributable to each party. The plaintiff’s award for damages will be reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault.
If a person has been involved in a car accident, they should make sure to seek medical attention and be aware that pain from serious internal injuries can be masked by adrenaline. After receiving medical attention, it is also important to speak to a lawyer.
After a car accident, some injuries can show up later, which is why it is important to always get medical attention after a collision. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact one of our experienced Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. today. We will carefully evaluate your case. Call us at 412-765-1888 or complete our online form to set up a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.