We’ve all heard cases of humans performing miraculous feats. Mothers lifting cars off of children, football players making a game-winning touchdown with a broken leg or torn ACL, or people walking away from car crashes seemingly unaffected, only to find out they had serious internal injuries. These acts are all due to a chemical in the human body: Adrenaline.
The same chemical that courses through your veins when jumping out of an airplane, or wakes you from a dead sleep when you hear glass shatter, can also mask pain felt from a knee injury in the last minutes of the game, or allow a 150-lb woman lift a 3,500-lb car off of a toddler. The adrenaline-surge your body releases following a car or other accident acts much the same way. This adrenaline can mask any pain you may feel for hours or even days—which could delay the signs of injury.
Delayed Onset Injury
Delayed onset of injury, or pain masked by an adrenaline rush, can be bad for you. The adrenaline coursing through your body can convince you that you’re not hurt, causing you to delay or refuse medical treatment. Walking around with injuries, internal or otherwise, can exacerbate them, resulting in either worse injuries or a longer recovery time.
In addition to the adrenaline protecting you from pain, a lot of the swelling that occurs in joints (think necks, knees and backs) in the aftermath of an accident also takes time to reach a level which will start causing pain. Soft tissue injuries (injuries that don’t involve bones) don’t show up on x-rays and can take days or weeks to cause enough pain for you to want to see a doctor.
One of the most dangerous delayed onset injuries following an accident is a concussion. The dizziness, nausea, sleepiness and fuzzy thinking can all take a while to become noticeable. This is particularly worrisome, because concussions are so serious. This is why you should be checked out by a doctor immediately following an accident even if you feel fine.
Who to See Next
Your doctor is the most important person for you to see after the accident. Again, even if you feel fine, you should be thoroughly checked out by a medical professional trained to look for things your adrenaline is trying to cover up. Your doctor will also give you a list of symptoms to watch for and let you know when/if you should come back.
The next person you should consult after an accident is a personal injury attorney. Like your doctor is trained to advise you on your health, your lawyer will guide you through your rights and responsibilities if a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate. Many time insurance companies try to settle immediately following the aftermath of the accident. The full extent of your injuries may not be known for days or weeks; settling at this point prevents you from seeking further damages if something manifests later. Your doctor will give you a good idea of when you should feel fully yourself again and your lawyer will advise you when it is appropriate to start talking with insurance adjusters.
The Aftermath—Seeking Help from a Personal Injury Attorney
The time after an accident is a scary one. Adrenaline in your body can convince you that you are uninjured but, even so, the adrenaline hangover can make you feel awful. In the next few hours, days, even weeks, your joints may swell and cause pain. Worse still, you may find you have more serious injuries, such torn ligaments, a concussion, or even internal bleeding. Consult your doctor to look after your medical well-being and a personal injury attorney to prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company.