What to Expect Physically After a Car Crash

What to Expect Physically After a Car Crash

Every day as people commute and travel on California’s roads and highways, auto accidents happen. While some people walk away from car accidents unscathed, others are not so lucky. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), in 2018, there were 3,563 fatal car accidents in California.

Since motor vehicle accidents can affect everyone differently, it is important to understand what to expect after a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you recover any compensation you may be eligible for.

How Does the Human Body Get Injured in a Car Crash?

The human body was not designed to withstand the force and physical impact of a car crash. Even if you were following the speed limit and had your seatbelt on, you can still experience pain and injuries following a motor vehicle accident.

Some of the ways your body get injured in an auto accident include:

  • Being hit by loose debris or objects in the vehicle
  • Being jerked violently resulting in whiplash or hitting against the dashboard, window, or windshield
  • Being thrown out of the vehicle

In fact, you can suffer a head injury from the violent jerking in a car accident, even if you did not hit your head on an object. Many times, head injuries are not properly addressed by emergency medical personnel at the scene and may require follow-up with your primary care physician.

Some people are lucky enough to walk away from an accident with minor scrapes or cuts. Other people injured in car accidents may have injuries that require surgery or extensive therapy to heal from. Unfortunately, some injuries cause multiple or such severe trauma, that a person may die as the result of the car accident.

Physical Symptoms to Expect After a Car Accident

Soft Tissue Injuries

The most common injury in a car accident is soft tissue. The force of a car crash can cause your body to move suddenly, putting stress on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, without breaking bones.

The most common symptom of soft tissue injuries is pain. The pain may be isolated or be aggravated by movement or touch. If pain is radiating down your arms or legs, it could be an indication of whiplash or disc damage.

These injuries can require months to years of care, from physical therapy to even surgery. If you develop unexplained pain, particularly pain aggravated by movement, after a car accident, you may have a soft tissue injury.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

In a car accident, our heads are often subject to invisible trauma, which can range from a mild concussion to a severe traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can happen because of a blow or strike to the head. These injuries may not always present at the time the accident occurred.

Common symptoms of a TBI include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in mood

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek emergency medical care.

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • A headache that won’t go away
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are among the scariest delayed injuries you can have. They can stem from the head, back, or neck injuries. Spinal cord injuries are especially devastating because they can take a long time to treat and heal from, or the injuries may be permanent. If you suspect you or someone else has a spinal cord injury, seek immediate medical care.

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include:

  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Weakness
  • Extreme pain
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control

Broken Bones

If you break a bone during a car accident, you will probably know right away due to extreme pain, bruising, and swelling at the site of the injury. In some cases, the bone will actually stick out of the skin. If you think you have broken a bone, you should get medical care right away.

Other types of bone breaks, like hairline fractures, can be missed by an initial assessment and can present pain similar to strained or sprained muscles and ligaments. If these sorts of breaks occur in the spine, legs, or feet, they can lead to later complications as well.

Blood Clots

If you’ve suffered a serious injury in a car accident, you may also be susceptible to post-trauma blood clots, which can arise days to weeks after your initial injury. These can travel from leg injuries where internal bleeding has occurred to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Some clots can even form in the brain, leading to strokes.

If you suspect you have a blood clot, you should seek medical care immediately.

What to Expect Mentally After a Car Crash?

You may have escaped your car accident with mild to no physical injuries, but the accident itself can still be a traumatic experience. While it is important to treat your physical injuries, it is also critical to pay attention to any mental or psychological injuries as well.

Getting therapy after a car accident is one way to deal with any emotional, mental, or psychological symptoms you may experience after an auto accident. Mental health injuries from a car accident are also recoverable as a form of damages in personal injury cases.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is triggered by, as the name suggests, traumatic or stressful events. After a car accident, you may experience things like flashbacks, nightmares, or have trouble moving past the accident.


Symptoms of anxiety include fear and persistent worrying. A host of physical symptoms can also accompany it. After experiencing a car collision, you may fear getting back on the road and having another accident.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Injury Attorney

Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident in Oakland, Pleasanton, Fremont, or the Greater San Francisco Bay Area? Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Mirador Law.

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, you may be dealing with the insurance company, increasing medical bills, and lost wages. Our California car accident attorneys are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.