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How to Address a Delayed-Onset Injury After a Tennessee Car Crash

Car accidents can be over in seconds. However, collisions are inherently traumatic events that can have life-altering consequences. Survivors may leave the crash site feeling strong, only to develop significant symptoms hours, days, or even weeks after the accident.

Car Accident Injuries Aren’t Always Obvious

Accident-related injuries don’t always present immediate symptoms. Under many circumstances, crash-related complaints could be masked by either of the following:


Shock is psychological, but it can have physical results, too. When a person goes into shock, they mentally distance themselves from a particularly traumatic event or situation. While in this state, a car crash survivor may experience lowered blood pressure, making it more difficult to recognize and assess otherwise grievous injuries.


Adrenaline is a hormone released when the body is excited or stressed. It’s closely related to the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight-or-flight” response. When someone experiences an adrenaline rush, their adrenal system instructs their body to reroute blood to the muscles. Adrenaline, like shock, can temporarily hide significant injuries.

Common Accident-Related Delayed-Onset Injuries

Car accidents involve significant physical forces and can result in various major delayed-onset physical injuries, such as:


Whiplash is one of the most common types of injuries a person suffers from a car accident. Whiplash happens when the sudden impact, typically from a rear-end collision, forces your neck and head to violently move about.  Whiplash can occur even at low-speed impacts, and it can occur whether you are or are not wearing a seat belt. The symptoms of whiplash may include:

  • Sharp neck pain
  • Stiffness in your neck
  • Back and spine problems
  • Cognitive problems, such as lack of concentration and loss of memory
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Numbness in the hands, arms, back and neck

Whiplash-related symptoms usually disappear over time. However, in a minority of cases, they persist for years, becoming a chronic and untreatable condition.

Back Pain

Motor vehicle collisions can cause spinal injuries, herniated discs, and soft tissue damage in and around the back. Left untreated, back pain can become chronic, impeding survivors’ independence and complicating their ability to return to work.
Neck pain

Delayed-onset injuries in this area often cause symptoms including stiffness, soreness, pain, and swelling. Some car accident victims with neck injuries could also experience cognitive difficulties.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are any injury to the soft areas of the body, such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Examples of soft tissue injuries include contusions, sprains and/or strains, and spinal disc injuries. These types of injuries are extremely common in car accidents because of the impact between the vehicles. Soft tissue injuries can be painful and life-disrupting, but they are not always easy to prove, so it is extremely important that you document your injuries in order to protect your right to compensation.


A headache might be a mild inconvenience—or a warning sign. If a headache lingers, it could be an indication of a concussion, brain clot, or another form of traumatic brain injury.

Numbness and Tingling

Structural and muscular injuries frequently present unusual and unexpected symptoms, including inexplicable feelings of numbness or tingling, even if an injury isn’t immediately apparent.

Why Insurance Companies Don’t Like Delayed-Onset Injuries

Under Tennessee’s fault-based insurance system, car accident victims have the right to file a claim for compensation against the at-fault motorist and their insurance company.

However, since insurers are for-profit enterprises, they usually seize any excuse to devalue or deny a survivor’s settlement. In general, adjusters are skeptical of delayed-onset injuries, since conditions like whiplash cannot be proven through laboratory tests. They might try to derail your claim by:

  • Asking you to provide a recorded statement, hoping you’ll contradict yourself or inadvertently accept blame for the accident.
  • Demanding that you see another doctor, who might dismiss your complaints as unrelated.
  • Refusing to negotiate, or even ignoring your phone calls and electronic messages.

The Importance of Receiving Prompt Medical Attention

You should always seek immediate medical attention after any car accident, even if you don’t believe you’re injured. A physician could help you:

  • Identify potential injuries.
  • Diagnose confirmed conditions.
  • Treat or recommend treatment for delayed-onset injuries.

Obtaining the necessary compensation to afford high-quality medical care seems difficult, in large part because insurance carriers don’t always negotiate claims in good faith. By seeing a physician immediately, you protect your health and prevent an insurer from telling the court that you invented symptoms to obtain compensation.

It is common for many people who have been hurt in a car crash not to immediately experience symptoms from their injuries. Sometimes it can take several days or weeks for injuries from an auto accident to fully show up, which means, you have to be careful to fully understand your situation.  Personal injury lawyers understand the possibility of this and can help you negotiate your claim to address potential future physical problems, but it is essential that you seek consultation with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your accident

How an Attorney Could Help You Overcome the Insurance Company’s Objections

Weir & Kestner Injury Lawyers are committed to defending the rights of Tennessee car accident victims. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle collision that wasn’t your fault, we can investigate the causes of your crash and collect critical evidence to prove not only that your injuries are crash-related, but also how they’ve seriously impacted your life.

Please send us a message online or call us at 615-220-4180 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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