Car accident victims often feel relieved if they get past the initial shock of the experience and don't see any serious injuries or feel much pain. It is tempting to think that they got lucky and did not suffer any real harm, beyond the inconvenience of the wreck and the damage it caused to their vehicle.
Unfortunately, assuming that the accident was harmless is a dangerous thing to do, and may even lead to long-term suffering. Many injuries are not visible and do not inflict pain immediately, often called delayed pain or delayed onset injuries. The most common delayed pain injury is soft-tissue damage, or whiplash.
In reality, whiplash can cause intense, paralyzing pain and stiffness, and if the victim does not receive proper medical care quickly, they may wake up the day after the accident unable to move or in severe pain. It is important to go see a doctor as soon as you experience a car accident, whether you believe you suffered an injury or not.
Whiplash can cause lasting suffering
The good news is that whiplash is typically a short-term injury that heals over time and does not leave victims with permanent pain. However, "short-term" can mean many days or weeks of agonizing pain or immobility. If the victim cannot perform their job while they recover, then they may lose income or may even lose their job entirely.
Whiplash is extremely painful, and may mask other injuries that can worsen if the victim does not receive the medical care they need very soon after the accident. These may include spinal injuries and pinched or severed nerves. Similarly, an accident that causes whiplash may also include a blow to the victim's head that they do not remember. This may leave them with a mild brain injury, which may not show symptoms until days or weeks after the accident.
Whiplash can affect a large portion of the body, including back, chest, shoulders, neck and legs. If a victim experiences whiplash in all of these areas, they are practically paralyzed until the tissue damage heals. Despite a relatively quick recovery time such as several weeks, complete paralysis or painful movement mean a serious injury by just about anyone's definition.
Protecting your rights after an accident
Keeping your rights secure while you recover from an accident is very important. You may need to file a personal injury claim if the accident was caused by someone else, and the process of filing a claim and pursuing full compensation can take time. Make sure that you consult high-quality legal resources as you build your claim. Don't hesitate to use professional legal guidance as you need it. Your main priority should be focusing on your own recovery, not worrying about the legal issues involved.