What Happens If My Car Accident Injuries Show up Later?

Car accidents are stressful events. When your adrenaline is pumping and emotions are running high, it can be tempting to wave off medical treatment. “I feel fine,” you might say. Or you may believe that a minor injury doesn’t need serious attention or follow-up treatment.

While the above examples are common reactions to car accidents, it’s important to understand that the full extent of your injuries in a car accident may not be obvious right away. In many cases, it can be some time – hours or even days – before the full extent of your injuries becomes clear. If you’re involved in a car accident, you should consult an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney and learn how to protect yourself and your legal rights in the case of injuries that surface later.


If you’re involved in a car accident, one of the most important things you can do is seek medical attention right away. An emergency responder to the scene, such as an EMT, or a doctor in the emergency room, can assess your apparent injuries and let you know what you may be able to anticipate later on, given the nature of the crash.

There are a couple of reasons why seeking medical attention promptly after a car accident is vitally important – no matter how serious your injuries seem. Not seeking medical attention after a collision is simply dangerous. Letting an injury go untreated because you’re not yet feeling any effects greatly increases the risk of additional or more permanent damage. Seeing a medical professional right away ensures you’re able to begin treating a mild or moderate injury before it becomes aggravated and develops into a more serious health issue.

The second reason why you shouldn’t put off getting medical treatment after a car accident has to do with protecting your legal rights down the road. If you wait days or weeks after the crash before seeing a doctor, it becomes much more difficult to prove the accident caused your injuries. This can jeopardize your chances of the court awarding you full damages should the situation lead to a trial.


When you seek medical treatment after a car accident, the EMT, doctor, or other medical professional who treats you will likely let you know what late-occurring symptoms you may experience. There are a number of common car crash injuries that regularly don’t become obvious until some time after the accident happened. These include:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Concussions
  • Emotional trauma

Some common symptoms you should be alert for after a car accident include:

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries – such as whiplash – refers specifically to injuries affecting the soft tissue of the neck. They are the most frequent type of late-occurring car accident injury. Soft tissue injuries are a common result of car accidents because the force of the crash can knock passengers around, even if they’re wearing seatbelts. This bruises or strains the muscles.

The pain of whiplash, which occurs as a result of the head and neck being jolted forward and back in an accident, is a fairly well-known example. If car accident victims don’t get treatment, soft tissue injuries can become worse over time. This turns what could have been a quick recovery into a long-term health ordeal.


Head injuries such as concussions also aren’t immediately apparent after a car accident. If you’ve hit your head in a car accident, even if you seem and feel fine, get checked out right away. An untreated concussion can lead to lasting brain injury that can seriously alter your quality of life – or even turn fatal. For this reason, always see a doctor if you seriously hit your head, especially in a car accident.

Emotional Trauma

The trauma of a car accident can have lasting emotional effects, and these also represent a health concern. Car accidents can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental issues. If you find yourself experiencing emotional trauma in the wake of a car accident, seek professional help. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries so it is always best to consult a seasoned Philadelphia personal injury lawyer well-versed in car accident claims if you were hit by a negligent driver in Pennsylvania.