Why Whiplash Symptoms Are Often Delayed After a Car Accident

whiplash symptoms delayed

Most people assume that whiplash symptoms develop in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. The soft tissue injury happens so quickly it only makes sense that the pain and stiffness would set in equally fast.

This is not always the case. Late whiplash syndrome can delay the effects of whiplash by months. This can be a surprising and unwelcome development for people who assume that the worst of their car accident experience is behind them.

One of the worst things about delayed whiplash symptoms is that it can be hard to convince insurance companies that your current pain is related to something that happened weeks earlier.

Below, we explain how whiplash injuries work and what you should do if you’ve been in a car accident and have developed chronic pain as a result.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately For Spinal, Head, and Neck Pain

It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you have developed a whiplash injury after a car accident. Many people are tempted to wait until they have clarified payment concerns with their insurance company, or the other drive. While this is a natural instinct, it’s also unnecessary.

Payment considerations can be resolved after treatment. Delays in medical attention can cause problems with your pain management treatments. If it turns out you need physical therapy, the sooner you start, the sooner you will experience pain relief.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a type of injury that commonly occurs in car accidents, particularly in rear-end collisions. When a vehicle suddenly stops or changes speed, the head is abruptly jerked backward and then forward, causing the neck to move in a rapid and uncontrolled manner.

This rapid motion puts significant strain on the neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons, leading to whiplash. The impact of the collision can cause the cervical spine, which comprises the neck vertebrae, to stretch and compress beyond its normal range of motion. As a result, the soft tissues surrounding the spine may become damaged, leading to pain and discomfort.

In addition, the sudden movement can also affect the nerves in the neck, potentially causing further symptoms. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches, often starting at the base of the skull
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Tenderness in the shoulders, upper back, and arms
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Irritability and sleep disturbances

It’s essential for individuals experiencing these symptoms after a car accident to seek medical attention promptly for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What is Late Whiplash Syndrome?

Delayed whiplash, also known as late-onset or delayed-onset whiplash, refers to the manifestation of symptoms occurring hours or even days after a car accident. In such cases, individuals might not immediately recognize the extent of their injuries due to the adrenaline and shock experienced during the collision.

The delayed onset of whiplash symptoms can be attributed to various factors, including the body’s inflammatory response, the release of stress hormones, and the gradual development of soft tissue damage. Similar to acute whiplash, delayed whiplash results from the rapid and forceful back-and-forth movement of the head and neck during a car accident.

This motion places strain on the neck’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons, leading to potential damage that may not be immediately apparent. Despite the delayed onset, seeking medical attention remains crucial to address underlying injuries and initiate timely treatment.

How Long Can Whiplash Symptoms Be Delayed?

It’s natural to wonder if the back pain you are experiencing now relates to an accident that happened weeks earlier. In our last heading, we mentioned that the delay in experience owes largely to adrenaline.

If you’re only developing symptoms three weeks later, that can’t be a factor, right? There are actually multiple elements that contribute to delayed pain.

The unique way each individual’s body reacts to trauma contributes to this variability in symptom timing. A doctor will not only provide you with treatment but also explain why your symptoms have developed late. This information can influence insurance and settlement proceedings later on.

Is it Harder to Get Insurance Coverage or an Accident Settlement For Delayed Symptoms?

Filing an insurance claim for delayed whiplash can present certain challenges compared to immediate onset symptoms. Insurance companies may sometimes be skeptical about the connection between the accident and the delayed symptoms. However, it’s important to emphasize that the timing of symptom onset does not diminish the validity of a whiplash claim.

Once you receive medical attention, the scope of your injuries will be on record. This will help support your claims in the context of insurance and a possible accident settlement. Unfortunately, navigating these situations alone is not always easy. Contact a personal injury attorney today to receive the help and support you need.

Contact Benjamin Durham Law Firm Today

There is no reason to suffer through your whiplash or late whiplash syndrome alone. While navigating the medical and legal process can be more complicated when you start experiencing symptoms well after the actual traumatic event, your situation is far from hopeless.

At the Benjamin Durham Law Firm, we have helped many people in situations just like yours. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Author Bio

Benjamin Durham is the principal attorney and founder of Benjamin Durham Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm based in Las Vegas, NV. With over 20 years of experience in the legal field, he represents clients in both injury and criminal cases. Over his career, he has secured favorable verdicts for clients in both state and federal courts and successfully defended numerous high-profile prosecutions.

Ben’s exceptional legal skills and dedication to his clients have earned him recognition as a life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also has been honored as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association, further solidifying his reputation as a top-notch legal practitioner.

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