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What to Do If Injuries Appear Long After a Car Accident

Car crashes often result in injuries. There are instances, however, when symptoms for physical and psychological injuries appear months or years after a car accident. If you or someone you know is experiencing “delayed” injuries or symptoms caused by a car crash, this article will be helpful.

Watch Out for Delayed-Onset Injuries from Car Accidents

One of the things you must do when you get into a car accident is to let a doctor or medical first responder assess you for injuries. If you’re feeling any pain or have bruises and cuts, allow them to tend to you. It will also be wise to take photos and videos of any visible injuries. These will serve as evidence for claims and will help a car accident injury attorney create a strong case for you.

However, injuries and symptoms may appear long after an accident. Passengers and drivers can feel perfectly fine immediately after a crash but experience chronic pain weeks later. These injuries are referred to as delayed-onset car accident injuries.

If you walked away from a car accident unharmed, observe your health and watch out for symptoms that might hint at a delayed-onset injury. Below are some examples:

  • Chronic headaches – This can be a red flag for a severe injury if the victim only started getting frequent and painful headaches after the accident. It’s crucial to see a doctor as soon as this happens (and document the tests and results, too). You could be looking at soft tissue injury, swelling, blood clots, and other types of traumatic brain injury.
  • Shoulder, neck, and back pain – If you were wearing your seatbelt when the crash happened, you might have experienced whiplash from the opposing torques of your car and the other vehicle. Whiplash can be treated at home, but you must still consult a doctor if only to rule out serious injuries, like a lumbar strain or disc fractures.
  • Psychological symptoms – Car accidents may cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Victims who experience mental and emotional trauma sometimes don’t recognize that they are suffering from it. Listen to your companions at home if they observe something different in your behavior or reaction to certain things or events.

File Your Claims Immediately

California has a two-year statute of limitations for claims and lawsuits related to car accident injuries (California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1). Car accident victims typically have two years from the date of the accident to file insurance claims against the negligent driver.

There are exceptions for delayed-onset injuries. Under the delayed discovery rule, the injured victim can have one more year from the date he or she discovered the injury to file a claim.

Prove that Your Injury is Related to Your Car Accident

Although it is widely acknowledged that car accident injuries can appear belatedly, victims still have to prove that the symptoms they’re experiencing are because of the car accident.

When you file your claims, expect the defendant or the negligent driver responsible for the accident to cast doubt on the nature of your symptoms. They may argue that your symptoms are due to a pre-existing medical condition, or a health problem that developed after the accident but is entirely unrelated.

The defendant’s insurance company will also scrutinize your claim. You must follow the claims process carefully and present all the necessary documents so that you can negotiate for the maximum settlement possible.

To raise your chances of getting full compensation, get the help of an experienced car accident injury lawyer. They will file your claims and fiercely negotiate on your behalf. Doing so will make the process smoother because your attorney already knows what documents to gather and how to beat the deadline for your insurance claim.

More importantly, you can have peace of mind knowing that your case is in capable hands — a comfort, considering the physical pain or emotional distress you’re already going through due to your delayed-onset injury.

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