3 common car accident injuries that aren’t always immediately apparent

Several common car crash injuries, including whiplash, brain trauma and psychological injuries, may not immediately be obvious due to late-onset symptoms.

Car accidents harm thousands of people in Oregon each year. Just in 2014, over 24,000 car crashes that left people injured occurred in the state, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. While most of these accident-related injuries may be apparent immediately, others may manifest more slowly. Unfortunately, injuries with delayed-onset symptoms can still be severe, which makes it crucial for drivers in Portland to understand these injuries and their early warning signs.

1. Brain injuries

Car crashes are the third most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries and the second leading cause of fatal brain trauma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early medical intervention can help reduce the damage that a brain injury causes and improve its overall prognosis. Unfortunately, closed brain injuries, which result from a non-penetrative blow to the head, are not always identified and treated immediately.

People who have suffered brain injuries may experience mixed physical and cognitive symptoms, which may first appear days or even months after the injury happens. Physical indications of a brain injury may include headache, dizziness or balance problems, vision problems, oversensitivity to stimuli and sleep disturbances. Mental and emotional symptoms include issues with memory and concentration, irritability, anxiety and sadness.

2. Soft tissue damage

Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries are another common outcome of car accidents that may not be immediately evident afterward. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, these injuries affect the muscles, discs, joints, ligaments and nerves, so there are typically no external signs of trauma. Although symptoms may begin immediately in some cases, they also can take several days to surface.

Whiplash can cause pain and stiffness in the neck and surrounding areas, such as the shoulders and back. Some people experience numbness, tingling sensations, dizziness or headaches. Others develop cognitive symptoms that are similar to some of those associated with brain injuries, including memory issues, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion and emotional disturbances.

3. Emotional trauma

Many car accident victims also experience varying levels of emotional distress or trauma after an accident. Some people may develop severe and even debilitating psychological injuries, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. The presence of these injuries may not become apparent for weeks or even months.

Psychological injuries may cause changes in a person's moods, sleeping patterns, appetite, cognition and ability to handle regularly daily activities. Sadly, these ailments may be especially difficult to diagnose, especially when victims have suffered other injuries that can affect their moods or cognitive function.

Getting assistance after accidents

When any of these injuries occur in accidents that another person caused, victims may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, proving that an injury with late-onset symptoms occurred in a car crash can be challenging, as can documenting the debilitating effects of one of these injuries. For assistance during this process, victims may benefit from speaking to an attorney who has experience handling cases that involve these complex injuries.