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What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Table Of Contents

If you can walk away from a car crash, you may breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that means you’re okay. Visible injuries get a lot of attention after a car crash, but sometimes unseen injuries are just as severe, if not more so.  

In the days or weeks after a car accident, your body will begin to let you know how it’s reacting to the impact of the collision. You should pay attention. 

Post-Accident Considerations

Immediately after a car crash, there are some things you should and should not do. It’s important to follow these rules after any motor vehicle accident: 

  • Don’t say “I’m okay” 
  • Don’t reject suggestions for a post-accident medical exam 
  • Pay close attention to your body – a minor ache or twinge could indicate injury 
  • Don’t admit fault 
  • Call a car injury lawyer for legal advice and to recover compensation for your damages 

Sometimes, car accident victims walk away with no injuries. Other times, they walk away with injuries they cannot see.  

To protect your right to seek damages, you shouldn’t say too much immediately after the accident. Paying careful attention to your body in the days immediately after the crash is critical. 

Common Physical Symptoms After a Motor Vehicle Accident

Immediately after your car accident, you may not feel the full impact of your injuries. Here are some symptoms you should watch out for in the days after an accident. 


It’s not unusual for people to have headaches after a car crash. Your headache might be present immediately or within a day or two after your accident. A headache after a car accident might indicate any of the following: 

A headache could be mildly annoying and might not have anything to do with your crash. Even so, if you develop a headache after a car accident, see your doctor to make sure you’re being treated adequately. 

Back, Shoulder, or Neck Pain 

If you’re involved in a car accident and experience neck, shoulder, or back pain, you should see a doctor. Pain in these areas could be from: 

  • Injury to muscles, joints, or tendons 
  • Nerve or tissue damage 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Stress 

If you don’t normally suffer from this kind of pain, but it has appeared after a car crash, the accident could be to blame. You shouldn’t ignore back, shoulder, or neck pain, especially if the pain is in one location or feels like it’s shooting down your arms or legs. 

Numbness or Tingling 

Damage to nerves can cause tingling or a numb feeling in your hands, feet, back, or shoulders. At times, you may feel pain in these areas. It’s critical to make a doctor aware of these symptoms as soon as you notice them. These symptoms could suggest more serious conditions including sciatica or a herniated or bulging disc. 


Damage to capillaries (the tiny blood vessels under your skin) can cause bruising. You may or may not immediately notice bruising because it takes time for blood to reach the surface of your skin. 

Often bruises heal on their own, but serious motor vehicle accidents can cause damage to internal organs that need quick medical attention. If your bruising, tenderness, or discoloration doesn’t improve, you should see a doctor. 


Swelling is a common symptom after an accident. It could be the result of tissue damage, pulled muscles, or sprains. Swelling is tricky because you may not notice it for hours or days after your accident. 

Often, swelling can cause stiffness or pain. Icing and elevating limbs at home can alleviate the discomfort. You should still make your doctor aware because you may need additional medical treatment or even physical therapy. 

Abdominal Pain or Upset Stomach 

Almost all states have seat belt laws. Your seat belt might have been pulled tightly across your body during the accident. If so, you may have bruising or other trauma in your abdomen. If you experience any pain in your stomach or abdominal area or experience nausea, talk to your doctor. They will want to rule out any serious conditions such as internal bleeding. 

Dizziness or Blurred Vision 

Whiplash, concussions, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause dizziness or blurred vision after a motor vehicle accident. If these symptoms continue or get worse, let your doctor know immediately. 

Memory or Concentration Issues 

Head injuries from a crash can leave you with memory and concentration problems. These problems can be due to the stress or shock that results from the accident, or they could be due to a serious injury. Don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you experience these symptoms, as they may indicate brain trauma that needs to be addressed. 

Behavior or Mood Changes 

You may associate car accident injuries with physical injuries. Most do. But mental and emotional damage can occur as well. If you experience anxiety, depression, or unexplained mood swings, it could be because of your crash. Talk to your doctor about these issues and get the necessary help to heal. 

Remember, Some Symptoms Are Not Immediate

After a motor vehicle crash, you may feel shocked or confused. Typically, your mind is focused on how to deal with the situation at hand, and you may not be in tune with your body’s response. 

The hormones that come into play during “fight-or-flight” scenarios can also prevent you from feeling the pain of injuries. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your body during the hours and days following any type of auto accident. 

Be Patient During Recovery

Recovery may take days or weeks. Sometimes it can even take years. Your age, health status, and the treatment required are all factors in how long it will take you to recover. It’s important that you receive appropriate medical care for your injuries as soon as possible and that you follow all treatment plans entirely. Doing so will not only help you heal faster physically and emotionally, but it can also help you recover some or all of your financial losses for medical bills and other expenses related to the car accident should you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit for damages.  

Call NST Law for Legal Advice After a Car Crash

You might assume after an accident that your insurance company has your best interests in mind. Remember that they are a for-profit company. They make money by not paying money to others.  

If you’ve been injured in a car crash, it’s to your benefit to consult a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights to compensation that could help pay your medical bills. 

Contact NST Law today for a free, no-obligation consultation.