Proving Your Delayed Injuries Were Caused by a Car Accident
Car accident injuries can be as unpredictable as the current stock market. Serious collisions can leave a person with minor scrapes and bruises. Minor accidents can cause detrimental soft tissue damage that can last a lifetime. Other injuries include playing hide-and-seek.
Emergency room doctors are trained to look for common injuries with delayed symptoms after a traffic collision. When drivers and passengers refuse medical care at the scene and decline proper examination in a hospital, the consequences can be deadly.
Why Are Some Injuries Delayed in a Car Accident?
The physics involved in a traffic collision and the physical response to danger can frequently cause delayed injuries. Car crashes are the perfect embodiment of Newton’s Laws of Motion and illustrate what happens to a person’s body during a crash:
- Law of inertia: if an object is moving, it will remain moving until it is acted upon by a force
- Law of mass and acceleration: when a force is applied to the object, it will cause it to move in the direction of the force
- Law of motion: for every force that is applied to the object, there will always be an equal and opposite reaction
Newton’s Laws in action:
- Car A is at a stoplight, and Car B travels in the same direction at 25 mph.
- Car B hits Car A at 25 mph., forcing Car A forward
- The opposing force of Car A causes Car B to come to a stop abruptly
Moving vehicles create kinetic energy. When a car needs to stop, it must get rid of the energy. Typically, a car will do this by pressing the brake and slowing down. However, when a car strikes the other, the energy has nowhere to go. The vehicles absorb the kinetic energy in the form of damage.
Newton’s Laws in the real world are much more shocking. Imagining cars abruptly accelerating or stopping cannot justify what happens to the people inside the vehicles. The Transport Accident Commission partnered with Monash University Accident Research Centre to explain the physics behind injuries:
- The kinetic energy created by the cars in movement must go somewhere. In a car accident, well-made vehicles absorb most of the energy and will crumple.
- When the car cannot absorb any more, the rest of the kinetic energy will go into the people inside.
- The kinetic energy causes car accident injuries. When a person’s body cannot absorb any more energy, it begins to break.
Just as the cars absorb the kinetic energy through broken glass and bent fenders, a person will absorb the kinetic energy through broken bones and internal damage. Broken collar bones, ribs, and arms are noticeable after a crash. However, the kinetic energy can cause internal damage that may not be as obvious. Together with the effects of adrenaline, car accident victims may not notice pain or other symptoms for hours, days, or weeks after a crash.
How Does Adrenaline Work and How Does It Factor into Delayed Injuries?
When adrenaline is triggered in the body, it causes an onslaught of symptoms. The fight-or-flight rush of energy is a natural response to danger or stress.
In school, the rush of adrenaline can help a student cram for a test. For a parent, the fight-or-flight response can help a parent grab a child out of harm’s way.
According to Medical News Today, when adrenaline courses throughout the body:
- The heart rate increases, causing a racing sensation
- Blood is redirected toward the muscles for quicker reflexes
- Airways begin to relax, increasing oxygen to the brain and body to boost responsiveness
- Pupils widen to allow in more light
- The brain starts to process information faster
When in danger, the brain will process input quickly and allow a person to assess the situation rapidly and react faster:
- A prime example caught on camera in China is a mother who saved her young son from being struck by an out-of-control car. A mother and two children were walking in a parking lot when the driver of a parked car shot backwards without warning. In a split second, the mother stepped back and whipped her son around out of the path of the runaway car.
In addition to thinking faster, adrenaline decreases the body’s ability to feel pain and increases strength. Adrenaline also releases endorphins, allowing a person to feel in control while their body is in an extreme state:
- In Alberta, a new mom jumped from a second-floor bedroom window to save her baby from a fire. While her home was completely engulfed in flames, Amber Dyck tucked her small baby against her chest and jumped out her window. Amber made sure to fall on her back to protect her child from impact. She fell on the BBQ and fractured the vertebrae in her spine but did not let go of her baby. The seven-month-old Daemon was not injured.
When a person is involved in a car accident, adrenaline can mask pain or make injuries feel far less severe than they are. Accident victims may refuse medical treatment. Hours or days later, when the adrenaline has dissipated, the emergence of pain can be mistaken for expected soreness from the crash.
However, delayed injuries can be serious and sometimes fatal.
Why Are Delayed Injuries Typically Serious?
Humans are not robots. Our bodies will not react the same way in the same situation every time. The danger in delayed-onset injuries is that they do not present with obvious symptoms.
Actress Natasha Richardson fell during a beginner ski lesson in Canada one cold Monday in 2009. Resort officials recall her joking and laughing at the accident. However, later in the day she complained of head pain.
Eventually, she was taken to a nearby hospital, then transferred two more times before landing in New York. By Wednesday, she was dead.
The actress suffered an epidural hemorrhage. Some traumatic brain injuries may not show any signs. In Richardson’s case, as she joked about her fall, her brain had already begun to bleed. It was not until the pressure built up that she felt any symptoms hours later. Doctors did not discover the cause of death until after an autopsy.
How Can I Prove My Injuries Are from My Car Accident?
Proving delayed injuries resulted from an accident rests heavily on an accident victim’s reaction.
After a car accident, seek immediate medical attention.
If the accident is minor and it appears no one has been injured, seek immediate medical attention.
If the accident happens on the way to a life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime meeting with your greatest hero, seek immediate medical attention.
Seeing a doctor after a collision accomplishes two things:
- Only a trained and experienced doctor can evaluate an accident victim properly for potentially life-threatening delayed injuries.
- If a doctor misses an injury or if a minor injury becomes more serious later, the fact that a medical professional gave you a proper examination is key in a personal injury case
Navigating a personal injury claim can be daunting, especially when a person is hurt. Gina Corena & Associates can help accident victims through the process and offer sound legal advice along the way.