What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Some car accidents cause nothing more than a few dents, chipped paint, and frayed nerves. Other crashes may cause minor aches and pains that quickly resolve with time and some over-the-counter pain killers. But many collisions result in catastrophic injuries or chronic pain that lingers for years. Even drivers or passengers who may feel “fine” after an accident experience delayed symptoms that are signs of a serious injury or condition. That is why it is so critical to get medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t think you’re hurt.

What you can expect physically after an accident depends on many factors, from vehicle size and speed, to where and how they impact each other, to whether seat belts were worn or airbags deployed. Additionally, reactions to the shock and impact of a crash vary from person to person depending on their health, age, physical condition, and prior injuries.

Aside from all these variables, you may experience one or more of these common types of injuries, conditions, or symptoms after a car accident:


The most common way people suffer from whiplash and neck injuries is through rear-end collisions. In a rear-end collision, the impact propels the front car forward. Unprepared for that impact and with seat belts restraining their torsos, the heads of the occupants in the lead car will suddenly thrust forward and snap immediately back.

Also Read – If I Get Rear Ended Can I Sue?

The pain and discomfort associated with whiplash may not appear for days after an accident. Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Shoulder, arm, or back pain
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Burning, prickling, tingling in arms
  • Sleep disturbance, fatigue, or trouble concentrating

Spinal Cord Injuries and Back Pain

A violent collision can cause catastrophic spinal cord injuries that leave a person paralyzed, limit their mobility, or interfere with daily life activities. But even low-impact crashes can cause soft tissue damage, herniated disks, sprains, and strains that manifest as back pain, stiffness, or trauma. Back pain may not develop until days or weeks after an accident and can become a constant presence in a victim’s life.

Soft Tissue Injuries

The impact of a car crash can damage muscles, tendons, and ligaments, over-stretching or straining them. Soft tissue injuries typically take the form of sprains or strains, and as with some back or neck injuries, symptoms and pain may take hours or days to develop.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Concussion

Traumatic brain injury is a catastrophic type of brain damage caused by an external force striking the head, as often happens in a car crash. All cases of TBI are serious, but the symptoms can range from mild to severe and include:

Mild to moderate symptoms Moderate to serious symptoms
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • A change in sleep patterns
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Trouble with memory
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor attention
  • Problems thinking
  • Worsening headache
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion
  • Increased restlessness
  • Increased agitation

Even if a crash doesn’t result in a traumatic brain injury, the impact can still cause damage to the brain. Concussions are a frequent car accident injury and can create cognitive difficulties, headaches, nausea, and other problems if not addressed and treated. You may not immediately know you suffered a concussion, and symptoms may not develop until later.

Contact a Maine Car Accident Attorney at Berman & Simmons for a Free Consultation

At Berman & Simmons, we are deeply committed to our clients’ well-being; that is why we are so relentless in our efforts to get them needed care and deserved compensation.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence or recklessness, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your case. Contact a car accident attorney at Berman & Simmons today for a free consultation.