A car accident, otherwise, a motor vehicle accident can be defined in many ways, but it’s generally the collision of a vehicle with another vehicle or human, animal, or a stationary body.
Car accidents are unforeseen, and, therefore, it’s an unpleasant experience that may lead to injuries, loss of life, or damage to properties. Most of the time, in minor cases of car accidents, the victims might ignore certain injuries that don’t pose an immediate risk to their life or those that are not so conspicuous and do not appear detrimental. This practice can lead to several invisible injuries that go unattended, which can become life-threatening afterward.
It will be within the scope of this write-up to discuss what car accidents are and the common injuries that can go unnoticed after a car accident.
Read Also: 8 Tips for Recovery After an Accident
Causes of car accidents
There are myriads of reasons why car accidents occur. These reasons could either be human factors–emanating from lapses of the driver, his passenger, or a pedestrian road user–or non-human factors–those that result from vehicular faults, animal interference, or the condition of the environment.
However, if it has already happened you shouldn’t panic. The first thing you should do is to ask for the help of a professional car accident lawyer who will take legal responsibility for the situation. They will provide you with the correct advice and will fight for your rights during the claim.
To summarize, these are the most common cause of car accidents, in no particular order: Overspeeding, driver’s drunkenness, bad roads, aggressive and reckless driving, sub-optimal vehicles, distracted driving, running traffic lights and stop signs, as well as driver’s fatigue and inappropriate weather conditions.
Injuries from car accidents
Data from injuryclaimcoach.com shows that car accidents make up a significant amount of personal injury claims since the average American is likely to be involved in three accidents during their lifetime. That’s quite a lot of injuries.
These injuries may vary considerably–from minor injuries, like scratches, to heavy afflictions and death. They may also be superficial, which is easy to detect, or internal, which may subtly lead to long-term challenges (Mayou & Bryant, 2003).
Common unnoticed car accident injuries
It is always advisable to go for a full medical check-up after a car accident because most unnoticed car accident injuries are internal, some of which are quite fatal. And, unlike the superficial injuries, the victim will usually not see an open cut or blood and consequently prompting him/her to pay sub-optimal attention to it.
After a car injury, you may not notice an immediate symptom due to the adrenaline rush. However, after some hours to a few days, you may feel a sharp pain, headache, dizziness, feeling of reduced consciousness, or swelling. These symptoms may or may not correlate with the site of injury, but could be a pointer to underlying body damage.
The most common unnoticed car accident injury is internal bleeding, which is caused by trauma to the internal body organs, leading to loss of blood and pooling of blood within or around the damaged organ. Shortly, the victim may just feel fatigued or heavy but without adequate hemodynamic balance. Internal bleeding can lead to the death of the damaged organ, thrombus formation, embolization, and death.
Other common unnoticed injuries from car accidents include:
- Headache: Headache is also a common indicator of severe internal injuries, mainly related to the brain. It can occur several days after the car accident and can sometimes be insidious in onset and severity. It usually appears in brain injuries that cause increased intracranial pressure like cerebral edema, intracerebral or dural hemorrhage, and fractures resulting from concussion or severe trauma to the skull and its contents.
- Numbness: This is a useful suggestion of a damaged nervous system, showing up as a loss of sensation to a regional part of the body, the limbs, and hands, and can be another sign of whiplash. The numbness is usually a result of damage to the brain or spinal cord, affecting a group of nerves that relay sensation to a particular body region. Its presence will prompt a neurological examination to assess the extent of damage and if there is any involvement of other groups of nerves.
- Acceleration deceleration injuries: This is a serious closed head injury that is very common during a car crash. It happens in this way, when a person sitting in a moving vehicle comes to an abrupt stop as seen during car accidents, the brain within the skull remains in a forward motion due to its forward momentum, it then hits the rough internal surface of the skull that causes the injury. Rapid acceleration or deceleration during car accidents can occur in several manners, but most of them occur during a sudden change in speed. For instance, in acceleration injury, when a car is parked or at a stoplight, and it is hit by another car from the rear, or in deceleration injury, when a car in motion hits another car, gears down or hit a stationary body, causing the car to come to an abrupt halt. Acceleration deceleration injuries are very often seen, and will characteristically cause the stretching of the muscles of the head, shoulder, and neck beyond their normal range of motion.
- Concussion: This is also known as Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI), concussion is a brain injury caused by a traumatic impact that affects brain function. The effects of a concussion can be temporary, but will usually include headaches, feeling of head heaviness, nausea and vomiting, and deficit in consciousness, balance, memory, concentration, and coordination. Concussions are traumatic injuries and are usually caused by a mild to heavy blow to the head or violently shaking of the head, shoulder, and upper body as in acceleration-deceleration injuries.
- Bone Fracture: You may acquire a complete or partial bone fracture that may occur after a car accident due to the violent impact of the car mechanics on your body. Mild fractures may go unnoticed after a car accident and will only be noticed by a constant sharp or dull pain in the area of the involved bone. The presence of fracture is a high index to suspect internal injuries, and you should undergo a thorough medical, physical and radiologic examination. The plans for repairing the broken bones are commenced depending on the severity, and the organs involved. But will usually include restoring the bone integrity by the stabilization of the broken bone in a correct alignment.
- Mild Dislocation: Misalignment of minor joints of the fingers and toes can also be an aftermath of a road traffic accident which may remain unnoticed asides from the dull pain that may constantly emanate from the joint area and maybe, a disfiguration of the superficial look of the area of concern. Just as in fracture, you will be required to visit a hospital for radiologic and medical intervention, as it is also a high index to suspect other internal injuries.
- Soft tissue injury: This is a deface to a body soft tissue like the brain, or connective tissue like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The frequently encountered soft tissue injuries usually happen due to a strain, sprain, a violent hit that would result in a contusion, or a body part overuse causing bruising. These soft tissue injuries may manifest as swelling and redness, pain, inflammation, and loss of function. These defects may be immediate or chronic, and generally result from direct impact, tear, or overstretching of the tissues. Soft tissue injuries occurring in the brain are usually due to the compromisation of the blood supply due to rupture of a vessel or as a result of the direct violent impact on the brain.
- Whiplash: This is the common name for injuries to a muscle, tendon, or ligament following a motor traffic accident, and it is the most common injury sustained from vehicular accidents. During a car accident, your body often unexpectedly moves faster and more suddenly than you would have been able to elicit voluntarily. This quick trauma can stretch and make your muscles strain, it can also impose stress on other soft tissues without causing a bone fracture. Whiplash can be an excruciating event and may take a significant time to heal.
- Psychological disorders like withdrawal syndromes, personality changes, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): These psychological disorders are common in post-car crash victims due to the vivid and disturbing memories of the event and nightmares, especially if they lost a loved one in the incident. Sometimes, the victims can also experience emotional agitations following flashbacks. These psychological symptoms can be assumed to be less severe, even though in fact, it is an emergency health disorder that was precipitated by a traumatic event as serious as a car accident. If care is not taken, these psychological impacts have a high risk of generating and building up to suicidal tendencies (Fekadu et al, 2019).
Curtailing the rate of accidents will involve enlightenment and government policies. Persons who must ply the road must undergo the necessary training that will involve both the act of driving and the ethics of driving. Car and road maintenance should be a priority for both the drivers and the government respectively.
To avoid unnoticed car accident injuries, conscious and unconscious victims of car accidents should be thoroughly examined and observed after the incidence. The psychological aspect should also never be overlooked as it appears to be the most important aspect of the victim’s management in the long run.
Although people sustain varying degrees of superficial and internal injuries after a car accident, attention should be equally paid to both aspects because internal injuries, which may initially appear insignificant, may become deleterious to the victim’s health in the future.
Fekadu, W., Mekonen, T., Belete, H., Belete, A., & Yohannes, K. (2019). Incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After Road Traffic Accident. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 519. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00519
Mayou, R., & Bryant, B. (2003). Consequences of road traffic accidents for different types of road user. Injury, 34(3), 197–202. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0020-1383(02)00285-1