Car accidents are traumatic experiences that can cause everything from cuts and scrapes to life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, while some injuries present instantly, others can take time and aren’t immediately apparent. For this reason, it’s especially crucial to recognize the signs you should go to the hospital after a car accident to safeguard your health and well-being.

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When Should I Go to the Hospital After a Car Accident?

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this guide. But just in case, here are 10 important signs you should go to the hospital after a car accident so you know what to look for and when to seek prompt medical attention.

1. Severe Pain or Discomfort

Pain can manifest in various ways, such as shooting pain, persistent headaches, or intense muscle aches. But even if you initially think your pain is minor, don’t underestimate it. Pain could indicate more serious underlying injuries like post-traumatic arthritis, fractures, internal bleeding, or whiplash.

2. Loss of Consciousness

Loss of consciousness is a clear sign to go to the hospital immediately. Loss of consciousness can result from head injuries, concussion, or even more severe conditions and necessitates an immediate medical evaluation. Even if it’s a brief loss of consciousness, it’s still a significant warning sign.

3. Visible Injuries

Deep cuts, lacerations, broken bones, significant bleeding, and other visible injuries require immediate medical attention. It’s crucial to control bleeding and prevent infection, something best achieved in a hospital setting. Not seeking immediate help can complicate your injuries and impact your ability to claim insurance later.

4. Difficulty Breathing or Chest Pain

Chest pain, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath are red flags after a car accident. They could signify chest injuries, internal injuries, rib fractures, or a punctured lung. You should never ignore breathing impairments and seek medical attention promptly to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

5. Headaches or Dizziness

Headaches or dizziness after a car accident can be a sign of a concussion or traumatic brain injury. According to the CDC, symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not appear immediately. Thus, it is crucial to seek a prompt medical evaluation.

6. Neck or Back Pain

Head and neck injuries are common in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. Never ignore symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision, or neck pain. These could indicate a concussion, whiplash, or more severe injuries to the spine or head. If you feel any discomfort in your neck or back, even days later, it’s advisable to go to the hospital.

7. Numbness or Tingling

Numbness or tingling, particularly in the arms and legs, can indicate nerve damage or spinal injury and require prompt medical evaluation. These symptoms might develop hours or even days after an accident, so monitoring your condition is essential.

8. Abdominal Pain or Swelling

Abdominal pain or swelling can indicate internal bleeding. It’s crucial to seek medical attention as internal bleeding is often difficult to detect on your own and can be life-threatening. Other signs of abdominal trauma include bloody stools, persistent nausea and vomiting, skin that appears discolored, and severe tenderness when you touch your stomach.

9. Confusion or Memory Problems

If you are confused or unable to remember accident details, it could be a sign of a head injury or concussion. These conditions can have delayed onset symptoms, so seeking medical care to rule out serious issues is crucial.

10. Changes in Physical Functioning or Personality

If you notice changes in your physical functioning, like difficulty balancing, or in your personality, such as increased irritability, it could be a sign of a brain injury. The Brain Injury Association of California offers extensive information on symptoms and support.

What Are Additional Signs You Should Go to the Hospital After a Car Accident?

Not all injuries manifest immediately after a car accident. Some conditions, like internal bleeding or soft tissue injuries, may have delayed symptoms. If you notice any new or worsening symptoms in the hours or days following an accident, it’s essential to consult a medical professional promptly. Furthermore, if you have pre existing medical conditions that may be aggravated by the accident, seeking medical attention is advisable even if you don’t experience immediate symptoms. Finally, if you are pregnant, it’s crucial to visit a hospital after a car accident, regardless of the severity. Even minor accidents can pose pregnancy risks.

How Long After a Car Accident Do You Have to Go to the Hospital?

Ideally, you should go to the hospital immediately following a car accident. However, if you wait and your symptoms develop hours or days later, it’s advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Psychological impacts, such as anxiety or shock, are also common after a car accident. If you think you’re experiencing post-traumatic anxiety or stress, seeking prompt mental health help is as important as seeking help for physical injuries.

Should I Go to the Hospital After a Minor Car Accident?

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your well-being. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the importance of prompt care after accidents and emphasizes getting checked out, even after low-impact collisions. It’s also important to remember that some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries or soft tissue injuries, might not present immediately and that even minor delays can make the difference between life and death.  

Silva Injury Law Your Car Accident Advocates

If you were injured in a car accident in California, you can trust Silva Injury Law to handle your claim with care. Every case is unique, and we tailor our legal approach to your specific needs and circumstances. Our commitment is to find comprehensive solutions for our clients that address all their needs—a goal reflected in our numerous high-value settlements and five-star ratings. Additionally, we promise that when you work with us, we’ll treat you like family while fighting passionately for just compensation. Contact us at (209) 600-4389 for a free consultation, either in person or remotely, and let us explain how we can help. We never charge upfront fees for handling your car accident case and can address all accident-related inquiries.