Delayed Back Pain After Car Accident? 5 Steps You Must Take

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The number of accidents with injuries in 2017 was 1,889,000 out of 6,452,000 total accidents.

If you’ve been in a car accident with injuries, you understand the long-term impact it can have on your day-to-day life.

Delayed back pain after car accident situations complicate your recovery even more. Back pain can severely limit your mobility and keep you from working or handling your daily life activities.

Knowing how to handle late-appearing car accident injuries can help you recover faster and ensure you get the financial compensation you deserve from the insurance company.

Here you’ll find our complete guide to dealing with delayed back pain and other delayed injuries.

Why Some Pain Is Delayed

If you’ve been in a car accident, like a rear-end collision, you know it’s a stressful event that causes a strong reaction in the body. Your body cranks out the adrenaline and endorphins when the car accident happens.

Those naturally occurring chemicals in your body can block pain in addition to giving you a boost of energy.

Some injuries are visible, so you’ll know you have them even if you can’t feel the pain completely. But other injuries have no visible signs. The chemicals block the pain, so you may not realize you have those injuries.

It takes a while for the adrenaline and endorphins to decrease in your body so that you may stay pain-free for a short time after the accident.

But then the pain can start to show up. That’s when you might notice new pains. The injury was there all along, but you couldn’t feel the physical pain associated with it.

Delayed Back Pain After Car Accident

Your back is especially susceptible to injury in car accidents because of the impact it absorbs. The spinal column is designed with disks and spinal fluid to absorb shock.

But the trauma can cause damage to the spinal column, which results in damage and pain. It can also limit your mobility.

Your delayed back pain can come from different sources, depending on the injury.

Whiplash affects the neck, but it can also cause lower back pain. The pain comes from the damage to disks and joints in the back associated with whiplash. Whiplash and its symptoms may not show up until 24 hours or more after the crash.

Herniated disks are also common in car accidents. The impact can cause tears in the disks and leaking spinal fluid. The resulting bulge can press against your nerves and cause pain, numbness, and other issues.

The bulging and nerve compression can get worse over time. You may not notice the issue at first, or it may seem relatively minor. As the herniated disk gets worse, you may feel an increase in pain, numbness, and other symptoms.

Other possible causes of delayed back pain include soft tissue injuries, sprains, and spinal injuries.

Other Delayed Injuries and Symptoms

There are many other common car accident side effects you may not experience immediately.

Headaches sometimes show up later, or your initial headache may become more severe. It seems normal to have a headache after a car accident, but it could be a sign of something more severe. Possibilities include a concussion, brain injury, blood clots, or whiplash.

Abdominal pain is a sign of potentially serious internal bleeding or other internal injuries. If left untreated, those injuries can be life-threatening, so always have abdominal pain checked after a car accident, even if it’s delayed. Other signs of internal bleeding include dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, purple-colored skin, and fainting.

Numbness and weakness in your limbs after the accident can come with delayed back pain. Herniated disks can affect the nerves in the spine, which causes limbs to tingle, feel numb, or be weak.

What to Do After an Accident

Knowing what to do after a car accident can be confusing.

Start by assessing your injuries. Get emergency medical care if you have a severe injury. Always prioritize your medical care over everything else.

Document what happened in the accident if you’re not severely injured. Take photos and videos to capture the scene. Once the vehicles move, you lose that potential evidence, which could prove fault in the crash.

Look for witnesses who can give a statement about what happened. Write down their names and numbers, so you can contact them later.

Report the accident to the police, especially if it involves major damage or injuries.

If your injuries seem minor, you may wonder if you need to see a doctor after the accident. It’s always a good idea to get yourself check out when you’re in an accident. Because of the potential for delayed signs of injury, getting checked out by a doctor can help diagnose the issues sooner.

Your doctor may find signs of the injury during the exam even if you don’t feel the pain yet. The doctor also can tell you what to look out for in case symptoms appear later.

You’ll want to see the doctor for insurance purposes, too. If you file a claim or have to fight the insurance company to pay, that initial doctor’s appointment shows that you took steps to get medical care immediately.

1. Wait to Settle or Accept a Payout

The insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible for your insurance claim. They’ll try to get you to agree to a small lump sum soon after the accident to get the situation resolved.

Once you sign an agreement with the company, you can’t go back for more money. You legally sign away your rights to seek more financial compensation. That means if you have new pain a few days later, your medical bills and any additional costs for those injuries are your responsibility.

The amount the insurance company offers you may seem fair or adequate, but you never know what issues will develop. Holding off ensures you have time to fully evaluate what’s going on with your body after the accident.

Insurance adjusters can be pushy. They may make you feel like you have to sign the paperwork or agree to a settlement immediately. They’ll try to use the quick cash as a way to convince you.

Stand your ground, and hold off on agreeing to a settlement for now. If no other issues arise and you’re happy with the settlement, you can sign later.

But if you experience delayed back pain or other delayed injuries, you now have the room to negotiate and get more compensation for those issues.

2. See the Doctor Immediately

You should have already visited the doctor immediately after the accident. The doctor will have this documentation on hand to understand which injuries presented themselves right after the accident.

As soon as you notice new pain, go back to your doctor. Different kinds of doctors can treat back pain, including general practitioners, orthopedists, and chiropractors. You might start with your primary care physician and get referrals to specialists if needed.

Delaying a return visit to the doctor can cause your back pain to get worse. You could cause further damage to your back or make the injury worse.

Delaying also looks back for your car accident insurance claim. Acting quickly shows the company you’re in real pain and need the treatment you’re seeking.

If you wait a few days after the new pain starts, the company may question if it’s really that bad and if you need the treatment.

The visit will include a full exam. The doctor will ask you lots of questions about the accident and the new pain. You’ll likely undergo testing, which may include imaging, to figure out what’s causing the new pain.

When you visit the doctor, explain everything fully. Even if the doctor has your previous medical records pulled up, explain the circumstances of the accident and the initial injuries and pain you felt.

Detail the new pain you’re feeling, including when that pain started and anything leading up to the new pain.

3. Follow the Treatment Plan

The priority is recovering as quickly as possible from your injuries. Your new back pain may require additional treatments that your doctor didn’t originally prescribe.

Always follow your doctor’s orders on the treatment plan. The doctor will customize the plan for your specific injuries. Doing what’s recommended gives you the best chance of healing quickly with minimal long-term effects.

You may feel like some treatments are unnecessary, but remember your doctor has years of schooling and experience to back up the plan. It’s perfectly fine to seek a second option, but it’s best to follow medical advice for your best chance at recovery.

Keep going with the treatment, even if your back pain starts to feel better. When patients stop the treatments early, the pain can come back because the underlying injury isn’t fully healed. You could also reinjure yourself more easily if your back isn’t strong and healed.

Your treatment plan could include seeing other specialists or therapies, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy. Schedule those appointments as directed by your doctor, and attend all appointments. If you start skipping appointments or end your therapy early, the insurance company may doubt the severity of the injuries.

4. Document the Details

It’s important to start documenting all the details of the accident as soon as it happens. This record can be useful if you have to fight the insurance company to pay your claim.

We already explained how to take photos and collect eye witness accounts at the scene. Start a file, either digital or paper, of that information. Add to it as the situation develops.

Write a description of the pain and injuries you felt initially. Add to this document any time you feel a new pain or recognize a new injury.

Include the date and time for every piece of information you add to your accident documentation. This establishes the timeline and is a good reference for you if you have to talk to the insurance company or a lawyer.

Request copies of all of your medical records related to the accident. Check those documents for accuracy to make sure the doctor recorded everything correctly. A mistake on the medical paperwork could work against you in the insurance claims process, so request that the error be corrected if you find anything that doesn’t match.

5. Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident can help you get the maximum payout from the insurance company.

The attorney fights on your behalf to ensure you get proper compensation. Lawyers will investigate the accident and review the evidence to back up the requests for higher compensation.

Your lawyer can also ensure you get enough compensation for your new pain and injuries. They can present the evidence that shows the accident caused the new pain. They can also deal with the insurance company if it tries to deny that the injury should be covered.

Many insurance companies will settle out of court with your lawyer. But your attorney will represent you in court if you have to file a lawsuit to get enough money out of the insurance company.

Car insurance attorneys get a percentage of your reward as their payment. That means your attorney will fight to get you as much money as possible since it means the law firm receives more money, too.

One survey showed that 91% of people who had legal presentation received an insurance payout compared to only 51% of people who didn’t have a lawyer. Their payouts were higher, too. Even after the lawyer’s contingency fee, those people averaged a payout that was three times as much as people without lawyers.

Lawyers usually give you a free consultation, so having a lawyer review your case is risk-free.

Dealing With Delayed Car Accident Injuries

Delayed back pain after car accident situations can be frustrating and debilitating. Focus on healing yourself first by getting the right type of medical care as soon as you notice the developing pain. Then you can deal with the insurance company to get the financial compensation you deserve to cover the new medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Take care of the injuries first by seeing a qualified doctor for the delayed pain. Check out our list of top-rated accident doctors in New York to get started.