The Immediate and Delayed Emotional Distress and Physical Injury after a Car Accident


No one plans for or wants to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, many people will be at some point in their lives. Everyone reacts differently after a crash. There are so many adjectives that describe the perfectly normal ways people may feel such as terrified, traumatized, and horrified.Some people panic and become immobilized, some people feel numb, and others are calm, cool, and clear-headed.

According to JR Reyna, a personal injury lawyer in Dallas, “If you are involved in a car accident, there are too many things for you to worry about such as emotional and physical pain, medical appointments and treatments, and the stress associated with not being able to work.”

Identifying a lawyer who can help you to navigate this difficult situation can give you the focus necessary to recover from your injuries.

Immediate Emotional Distress

The range of emotions people feel after being involved in a car accident vary not only from person to person but also within the same person. For example, your immediate reaction directly after the accident could be shock, disbelief, and denial that you really just felt that impact. This can then be followed by anger if you were hit by another car or shame and guilt if you were the cause of the accident. Keep in mind that any and all of these emotions are normal and understandable. Don’t beat yourself up over how you are feeling. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you will need to be able to make some very important decisions, the most important one being to make sure no one is seriously hurt. If you or someone else is hurt badly, get immediate medical attention and call a police officer. Try not to take any of your emotions out on others or let any self-blame get in the way of taking care of important details as it will only be counterproductive.

Delayed Emotional Distress

It is normal to feel a little anxious for a short time after an accident. It might also be stressful and difficult to get right back behind the wheel of a car for a period of time. You need to understand that you just went through a traumatic experience. However, there are times when you should seek professional mental help such as:

·         If your anxiety has lasted more than a few months

·         Your life is being negatively affected in that you are unable to think clearly, are having trouble at work or in your personal relationships, or you have become withdrawn.

·         You are still unable to drive again a few weeks or months following an accident

Immediate Physical Injury

Injuries from car accidents vary significantly in severity, but there are a few common types of injuries that most people will sustain:

·         Many people associate the term “whiplash” with car accidents, whether it is real or not. We have all seen the crime shows where a person involved shows up in court with a neck brace only to find out that they were actually not injured at all. In general, whiplash refers to an injury to the bones or soft tissue of the neck that causes pain.  It can become painful immediately at impact as well as not showing up until later as a delayed physical injury. Be sure to consult a physician for a thorough diagnosis. Anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, and pain medications are common treatments for whiplash.

·         Lacerations and cuts range from minor scratches to serious injuries that might require stitches or even surgery.

·         Injuries to the chest area are often serious as they can cause collapsed lungs or broken ribs and require immediate medical attention.

·         Broken bones are no fun but unfortunately common from car accidents. Like all injuries, the severity varies from those needing a cast and others that require surgery.

·         Back and head injuries are the most serious and can cause long-term damage, so make sure to seek immediate medical attention.

Delayed Physical Injury

If you break a bone, are bleeding, or in pain, it is pretty obvious that you have been injured in a car accident. However, it is important that you know what kind of symptoms to look out for days or weeks after an accident and consult a physician if you experience any of the following:

·         If your hands or arms become numb, this could be a result of whiplash and an indication that you might have damage to yourspinal column or neck.

·         Some people will develop a headache a few days or weeks after a car accident. Seek immediate medical attention to rule out a concussion, blood clot, or other serious issues.

·         If you start feeling faint or dizzy, see large bruises on your body, or have swelling or pain in your abdomen, these could be signs of internal bleeding and require immediate attention.

·         The impact of a car accident can hurt nerves, muscles, and ligaments resulting in back pain. If you start feeling pain, visit your doctor who will probably order tests to determine if there is an underlying cause for your pain.

It is in your best interest to see a doctor for a thorough physical after being in a car accident even if you don’t have any immediate emotional or physical injuries. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice, listen to any instructions you are given, get lots of rest, give yourself a break, and don’t forget to watch out for the signs of delayed distress or injury.

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