If you’re involved in a rear-end collision, there are many reasons why you might initially decline medical treatment. You’re in shock; you’re busy; you don’t have any rear-end collision accident symptoms; and/or you don’t want to make a fuss.
Some symptoms may not appear for several days after a rear-end collision and it is clear that the extent of injury does not always correlate with the degree of damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. In fact, most soft-tissue injuries (see below) occur at speeds below 14 miles per hour.
Never ignore any rear-end collision accident symptoms that occur within days, or even weeks, after you have been hit. Recall in 2009, when British actress Natasha Richardson died from an epidural hematoma after declining to go to the hospital after she “bumped” her head in a skiing accident.
Rear-End Collision Accident Symptoms Not To Ignore
If you have any of these accident symptoms after rear-end collision, you should not ignore them:
- Back Pain
- Neck or shoulder pain/stiffness
- Pain or swelling in the abdomen
- Weakness in any part of the body
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Mood changes
- Blurred or double vision, hallucinations, other visual disturbances
- Slurred speech/difficulty communicating
However, all of these symptoms boil down to one of four medical conditions:
- Soft-tissue injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Internal Bleeding
Two of the most serious consequences of a rear-end collision, soft-tissue and TBI can not only be financially debilitating but, emotionally as well.
Soft-tissue injuries are essentially muscle/nerve injuries to the neck and/or back resulting from an impact from the rear. The neck is most often injured because the rest of the spine is protected by the seats and belt restraints. The annual cost in the United States from soft-tissue neck injuries is estimated at $29 billion per year.
Symptoms of soft-tissue neck injuries are not limited to pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. The force of the impact may cause subtle disturbances in the alignment of the vertebrae in the neck, disrupting nerve traffic between the brain and the rest of the body. Knee pain, for example, that develops and gets progressively worse over weeks and months is a sign of such disturbances. Left untreated, the knee can develop a substantial injury such as complex sprain of the iliotibial band that may put you on crutches for up to a year.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by an external force from rapid acceleration or deceleration, such as that experienced in a rear-end collision. In 2010, TBI accounted for 2.5 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Of these, between 32% and 40% were classified as ‘severe’.
TBI is characterized by:
- High risk of permanent disability
- Involvement of multiple systems
- Physical, cognitive, and/or psychosocial deficit
- Late complications, including neurodegenerative changes
TBI frequently causes devastating long-term effects for patients, families, and communities. The CDC estimates that between 3.2 million to 5.3 million individuals in the United States are living with TBI-related disabilities.
Why Should You See a Lawyer?
Rear-end collision accident symptoms can be serious. The pathway of a patient with traumatic brain injury starts in the emergency room but it rarely ends there. Patients may need one or more operations, followed by a stay in ICU, and then weeks or months as an inpatient. Recovery, such as it is, involves lengthy rehabilitation.
If you or someone you care about has suffered an injury because of the negligence of another person, as is often the case in rear-end collisions, a personal injury lawyer can provide legal services in the pursuit of a claim for damages.
They can help make sure a claim is filed within statutory deadlines and that the level of compensation covers costs of multiple operations, drugs, physical therapy, etc., as well as lost wages. Often, a lawyer can arrange a just settlement without your case ever going to trial.