What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident: A Comprehensive Guide

Knowing what to expect physically after a car accident can help ensure that you get the care you need in a timely manner. Learn more here.

The Orlando Firm are your personal injury attorneys with the experience to win.

What Should I Expect After a Car Accident?

The outcomes of car accident injuries can vary wildly. For some people, especially those who’ve suffered spinal damage, whiplash, soft tissue injuries, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, concussions, brain and neck injuries the full extent of injuries may not manifest until several hours or even days after the auto crash, and it can be challenging to know what to expect.

Some car accident victims will walk away with nothing more than mild pains and aches, while some will suffer from severe pain and immediate symptoms that may persist years after the accident.

By knowing what to expect physically after a car accident, you can contact an Atlanta car accident attorney to help you get compensation for any injuries sustained after an accident.

Because of the adrenaline rush following the accident, you may not have any physical symptoms at the moment, which may lead you to falsely believe that you were not injured.

Even if you do not have any visible injuries following a car accident, it is critical to monitor for symptoms over the following days and weeks. Some of these injuries include:

Soft Tissue Injuries

The most common injury following a car accident is soft tissue injury. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles support the skeletal structure of the human body. During a crash, the forces of the collision may stress these soft tissues, resulting in sprains or tears to ligaments and muscles.

Most soft tissue pain will be isolated to the point of injury though it can radiate down the limb in some instances.

If you feel neck, shoulder, or back pain at any point, it could indicate disc damage or neck injuries caused by whiplash. If the pain persists for several weeks or interferes with your daily activities, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

Pain management treatments may include but are not limited to:

  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Heat or ice treatment
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic care


The concussion from Car Accident – Traumatic Brain Injuries

This sounds like a scary thing, but it just refers to any brain injury resulting from outside trauma to the head. This most commonly occurs when the victim is thrown forward in the vehicle. Regardless of the severity, a traumatic brain injury needs to be taken seriously, especially in the case of car accidents.

If you believe you could have received a blow or penetrating injury to the head in a serious car accident, it is critical to seek treatment immediately. Some of the common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Headaches
  • Changes in mood
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

You need to see a doctor immediately if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms. A doctor can perform a CT scan to see if there is internal bleeding in the brain, which may require surgery or other treatments.

Other symptoms may include:

  1. Confusion
  2. Persistent headache
  3. Vomiting
  4. Slurred speech
  5. Loss of consciousness
  6. Any other severe symptoms


Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries in an accident could be among the most traumatic. Since a collision causes rapid shifting of the car under you while your body remains stationary, it can cause the spine to be pushed out of alignment or be twisted. This can result in herniated disc or a pinched nerve that can be very painful.

The scary thing about a spinal cord injury is that the symptoms may not be at once evident. With 38 percent of spinal injuries resulting from auto accidents, there is a high probability of getting a spinal injury in an auto accident.

Other spinal cord injuries may result in broken spinal bones, which can cause paralysis. In most instances, such injuries are permanent though some patients will regain movement of their limbs.

Spinal injuries usually require immediate medical attention to prevent or mitigate severe damage to the spinal cord. You need to visit a medical professional immediately if you experience any of the following delayed symptoms:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Numbness
  • Extreme pain


Broken Bones

Broken bones are a prevalent car accident injury that you will usually notice right away. Broken bones tend to be very painful, and there will usually be swelling and bruising at the injury site.

In some instances, the bone will also be sticking out from the skin, and in some, the bone will be fractured and cause internal bleeding if it has not pierced the skin.

In case of broken bones, it is critical to seek a medical professional’s advice and medical care right away. Even if you are unsure if the bone is broken, getting the injury checked out by a doctor could prevent permanent severe damage.

Some treatments that the doctor may recommend in the instance of broken bones include:

  • Screws or pins to hold the bones together as you are prepped for surgery
  • A cast to prevent further injury and to stabilize bones
  • A brace to allow some movement
  • Traction to align the bones

Broken bones typically take a few weeks or months to heal, and you may still experience some recurrent or chronic pain even after the bone has healed. You may still file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver for causing suffering and pain in such a situation.


Mental Health Issues – Traumatic Brain Injury

A car accident is a traumatic event that not only damages the body but could also cause emotional and psychological injuries.

Being involved in a serious accident can develop a phobia of being in a car or driving. If the phobia is severe, a person may become unable to use a vehicle for any purpose and become housebound.

While it is one of the most overlooked car accident symptoms, it is critical to take these injuries seriously as they could worsen over time if left untreated. A traumatic head injury can also result in mental health problems that include:


This is a mental disorder whose symptoms may include loss of interest in activities once enjoyed by a person or persistent sadness. A car accident that has fatalities or results in permanent or chronic physical injuries may result in feelings of guilt or grief that result in depression.



Anxiety is a psychological condition whose significant symptoms include persistent fear or worry. After an accident, people with anxiety may be afraid of driving again as they believe they could get into another accident.

Other symptoms include headaches, increased heart rate, gastrointestinal issues, and difficulty breathing.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This is a psychological disorder set off by a traumatic event. About 38 percent of car accident survivors develop PTSD, according to an OVID study. Treatment for PTSD will usually involve therapy or medication.

How Long Should You Be Sore After a Car Accident?

No two people will have the same severity of pain after a car accident. While many of the symptoms after a car accident may overlap, the response you have should not be deemed normal or abnormal based on another person’s experience.

After an accident, it is never advisable to self-diagnose as you have to take into account delayed pain even in instances of direct trauma. You may present symptoms very differently from another person due to factors such as:

  1. Age – Older people are likely to sustain more serious injuries, and their injuries also take longer to heal, thus causing prolonged pain compared to younger people.
  2. The severity of the accident – Serious car crashes can result in more severe injuries, which can cause a lot more pain.
  3. Pre-existing medical conditions – If you have a prior injury, it may be exacerbated by a severe auto accident. For instance, even a minor crash can cause your injured knee to get out of joint even if it does not cause a herniated disc.


How Does Your Body Feel After a Car Accident?

After an accident, an accident victim may feel aches and pains throughout the body. The pain may feel like it is concentrated in one area, but it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source.

After a car accident, you may also experience:

  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headache or migraine (from neck pain, whiplash, or a blood clot)
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep due to discomfort, pain, and anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness and/or fainting spells

This is why it is critical to consult a personal injury attorney and a doctor immediately after an accident. Contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation with an accident injury attorney.

How Long After Car Accidents Can You Claim Injury?

Following an accident, you will need to wait before you understand the severity and nature of your injuries. Even minor aches and injuries may linger for several weeks or months after the accident. More severe injuries may require you to seek medical emergency which could go on for months.

If you are still getting medical treatment after the accident, you can file a claim right away. It is always advisable to contact a lawyer and establish an attorney-client relationship so that things will move faster when you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.

You need to move fast since most states, including Georgia, have a filing deadline, and if you are to go to court, you will have to comply with the statute of limitations for your state. Even if it is just the insurance you are going for, you have to keep in mind the statute of limitations and contact an attorney as soon as you can.


What to Expect in Terms of Settlement for Car Accidents


When it comes to your personal injury settlement, you should expect that there could be all sorts of negotiations between the two parties.

For instance, if there are two drivers at fault, your insurance company may compensate you for your injuries even if the other driver’s insurer rejects responsibility. This means that you don’t have to worry about the other driver’s insurer rejecting your claim.

Another common type of negotiation during settlement is when everyone agrees that it is the other driver’s fault, but your insurance company will reject responsibility until the at-fault party’s insurance company agrees to compensate you.

How to Find Out If Someone Has Been in a Car Accident

Knowing what to expect if a loved one has been in a car accident follows the above mentioned principles. If they have been injured, you can play an essential role in advocating for their care and helping them obtain compensation through a personal injury claim. 

This begins with locating your loved one if you believe they have been involved in an accident. This can be as simple as calling them to find out if they are injured and require your help, or it could be a complicated process that may require you having to dig up information on whether there was a car accident from the police or insurance company.

If you believe a friend or family member may have been in an accident, you can contact local hospitals around the area where they were driving. While the hospital may not release much information to you due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, you can get information on whether the patient is admitted to that hospital.

You can also find out if a person was involved in a car accident by calling dispatch. If the accident report has been filed, you can get the information about the accident, including the persons involved, from the police.

Filing a missing person’s report with the local authority could also be another way of determining if they were involved in an accident. In most cases, friends and family will be alerted when the police file the accident report.


Need Legal Help After an Accident?


Working with an Atlanta car accident lawyer is very helpful when you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident. They can help file your insurance claim and deal with the insurer as you focus on recovering from your injuries.

At The Orlando Firm, we provide a free case evaluation and then proceed to handle the legal side of things so that you can focus on reducing stress, healing, and being with your family during such a stressful time.

Contact us today for your preliminary consultations so that we can plan a strategy for getting you the compensation you deserve. 

The Orlando Firm are your personal injury attorneys with the experience to win.