Automakers made countless safety improvements to the cars we drive over the last few decades. One danger we cannot improve? Bad driving. Despite a welcome decline in traffic death reports in 2020, people still have car accidents, and some of them result in injury.
Common Car Accident Injuries
A wide variety of injuries can result from crashes, some of which might seem minor but still require medical treatment and recovery time.
These may include:
- Whiplash and other injuries to the soft tissue of the head and neck – Whiplash can take months to heal, even with the right treatment. Effective treatment options include acupuncture, chiropractic care, electronic nerve stimulation, and physical therapy. The main symptoms of whiplash are headaches, pain in the neck and shoulders, dizziness, nausea, and disorientation.
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations – If treated promptly, these can heal quickly, but they can still be painful and inconvenient. Make sure to get lacerations professionally cleaned and sutured by a medical professional.
- Burns – These can happen on the face, neck, and hands from a deployed airbag. Minor burns should be professionally cleaned and dressed, and you may need to rest that area of your body while it heals. More severe burns that require hospitalization can take up to several months to heal.
- Fractures – Broken arms, wrists, fingers, toes, noses, and ribs are common in crashes. Most uncomplicated fractures heal in four to six weeks with immobilization and medical equipment. More complex fractures, such as compound or comminuted fractures, may require surgery and inflict lasting effects.
There are many other injuries that you might suffer, and if you feel anything out of the ordinary, always see a medical professional right away.
How Long Will I Be Sore?
There are many reasons why you might be sore following a car accident. Soft tissue injuries, including strains, sprains, and whiplash, are not as acute as a broken bone, but they can still cause discomfort and limited mobility.
Many people think it is simply normal and expected to feel sore from a collision—after all, your body went through a trauma, even if you have no visible injuries. This tendency to “tough it out” through the soreness means that many people miss out on the medical treatment they need for very real injuries they sustained.
If you feel sore following a crash, it is always wise to see if that soreness is the sign of an injury. If you wait and still feel sore after a day or two, or your soreness increases, always see a doctor. This soreness could be a sign of a real injury that can worsen significantly without the right treatment.
Soreness can also persist with medical treatment and disrupt your life for weeks, months, or longer.
The factors that contribute to the speed of healing you can expect from car accident injuries include:
- Your age – The older you are, the longer you can expect healing to take. As we age, the rate at which cells regenerate slows down. This may or may not be related to your specific fitness level, as it is just a fact of aging.
- Physical condition before the accident – The seriousness of your injuries might depend on the amount of muscle mass you had, your bone density, and your flexibility before the accident. If you were in good physical shape before, and you avoided severe injury, you might recover faster.
- How quickly you receive medical attention – If you receive treatment quickly following the accident, it can improve your prognosis in some cases. This is especially true if you had broken bones that were treated and properly set right away. Fractures, head, neck, or spinal cord injuries that are left untreated can become more complicated to treat later, delaying your recovery even more.
- The seriousness of your injuries – While whiplash, the most common car accident injury, can take months to heal completely, more complex fractures, internal injuries, or traumatic brain injury can take months or even years to heal completely, and soreness can last.
- Mental and emotional trauma – Emotional trauma that results from an accident also needs treatment, although this can be tricky. Such trauma is invisible, and it can even slow physical healing, extending your feelings of soreness and other symptoms.
More Serious Injuries Could Take Longer
Unfortunately, some injuries incurred in car accidents are more serious and can take a long time to heal. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—a potentially fatal injury—is caused by severe impact to the head. TBI can cause swelling and bleeding in the brain, headaches, and many other symptoms. In the short term, a TBI can include temporary loss of hearing or vision, confusion, memory loss, word recall issues, and impaired motor coordination. In more severe cases, these symptoms may become permanent, and the injured person might never regain normal functioning.
Don’t Ignore Possible Symptoms
If you feel sore, disoriented, or anything else that is unusual after a crash, it is critical to discuss the matter with a doctor. Getting a medical evaluation at the emergency room can reveal injuries you did not know you had. Even if you did not go to the ER right away, you can still see your doctor or head to the emergency room in the days following the accident if your soreness does not improve.
Getting the right medical diagnosis helps your prognosis in many cases, and it is necessary for an injury claim. You will need to prove the injuries you suffered, so having your diagnosis recorded as soon as possible is the best course of action.
Get Support From a Car Accident Lawyer
You can do your part to protect your rights after a crash by not ignoring soreness and getting a diagnosis of all injuries. Then, contact a car accident attorney to begin the process of filing the necessary insurance claims for your financial recovery. Don’t hesitate to get medical help or legal help after a car accident.