Late Car Accident Injuries and Settlement Claims


Just because you feel fine after a car accident does not always mean were not injured. Some injuries surface immediately after an accident. Others show up later.

Late appearing injuries are not uncommon after an accident. However, many people are unaware of them and how they affect their insurance claims and settlement amounts.

In this article, we’ll discuss…

What Are Late Appearing Car Accident Injuries?
What Are Some Examples of Late Car Accident Injuries? 
Why Do Some Injuries Show Up Later? 
3 Simple Ways to Be Compensated
How Do Late Car Accident Injuries Affect your Injury Claim

Let’s get started…

What Are Late Appearing Car Accident Injuries?

A late appearing injury is basically any injury that doesn’t show any immediate and visible symptoms after an accident. These types of injuries typically start manifesting themselves after a few days, weeks, or months.

Because of this lag between time of the accident and the appearance of injuries, it’s critical that you be on the lookout for how your body is responding.

What Are Some Examples of Late Car Accident Injuries?

Soft tissue injuries tend to be the most common late injuries after a car accident.


Whiplash is a prime example of a late appearing injury. The force of an impact has caused injury but there’s a good chance you won’t feel its full effects for a couple days.

Although whiplash generally refers to neck pain, it can also affect your back and other body parts.

Some common symptoms of whiplash are [3].

  • Pain and stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Worsening of symptoms with movement
  • Tenderness or soreness
  • Headaches
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Dizziness or abnormal fatigue


Headaches after a car accident can be a byproduct of whiplash or occur on their own in the absence of other symptoms. They often come hand in hand with a concussion and understanding their causes can be a complicated task even for a medical professional.


Concussions are traumatic head injuries that are caused by the jarring of your brain and they can sometimes fall into the late injury category.

Concussions are often overlooked after an accident because it can be hard to get an objective assessment of your behavior before and after the accident. Family and friends don’t start noticing the changes until weeks later.

Common symptoms of concussion are [4]:

  • Mental confusion or fogginess
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory problems
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dizziness or trouble with balance

A few other late injuries that can easily show up after the accident are:

  • Upper or lower back pain
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Numbness
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Due to its psychological nature, PTSD, in particular, can be hard to spot after an accident.

Why Do Some Injuries Show Up Later?

Your body’s system is designed to help you function despite an injury in the heat of a crisis. This can be a lifesaving mechanism but it can also lead to false initial assessments of injury.

When an accident occurs, our bodies blast into overdrive pumping adrenaline and pain masking endorphins into our system [1]. These chemicals are designed to temporarily dull your pain and suffering and keep you going.

If injuries occur it can be easy for them to go unnoticed due to our shocked state. It’s often not until the next day that symptoms can truly set in.

In the case of bruising and soft tissue injuries, things can take time to manifest because microtrauma to the muscle fiber generally needs 24-48 hours to reach full effect [2]. This is the same dynamic as going extra hard at the gym and being the most sore 2 days later.

The body can be a delicate instrument and whether or not getting rear-ended leads to back pain a few weeks down the line is hard to predict. Delayed injuries can be tricky and can arouse false suspicion from the insurance companies who are trying to evaluate the value of your injury claim.

So be sure to pay attention to your body and seek medical attention immediately after an accident.

3 Simple Ways to be Compensated for Late Car Accident Injuries

There are three basic steps to ensuring your rights are protected when it comes to late appearing injuries. These are:

    1. Be aware. The first step to successfully navigating the claims process is to know about delayed injuries. Remember just because you feel fine now, does not mean you won’t be in pain months later. Be aware of the some of the common types of delayed injuries and monitor your body closely after an accident.
    2. Seek medical treatment quickly. ALWAYS get medical attention after an accident. Even if don’t think you suffered any injuries, it is generally a good idea to get checked up. A doctor will be able spot signs of any injuries that are not obvious to you.

Besides the obvious health benefits, seeking immediate medical help makes your accident claim stronger and increases your chances of getting a higher settlement amount.

    1. Do not settle your claim quickly. Most people who don’t see any immediate symptoms choose to set quickly with their insurance companies. However, this can be devastating if your injuries turn out to be more serious than you initially anticipated.

Once you sign that release of liability form, your injury claim is closed and you’e waived your legal right to seek any more financial compensation.

Don’t rush into anything. Take your time to fully understand the scope of any injuries you suffer before proceeding.

How Do Late Car Accident Injuries Affect your Injury Claim

Delayed injuries can affect your claim in many ways, but the overall effect tends to be complication. Below are some potentials effects:

        • The claim process might take longer. If your injuries are slow to appear and don’t resolve immediately, your claim might need to remain open for longer. In this case, an insurance adjuster handling your claim will likely diary your claim out for a few months and check on your status sporadically.
        • An adjuster or attorney might not believe your claim. In a perfect world, everyone would be honest, but the truth is many people file fraudulent claims. The result is an increased level of suspicion against claimants. If your injuries take a while to show up you might be met with skepticism.
        • It may be hard to connect your injury with the accident. The later your injuries appear, the harder it is to argue that they were caused by the accident.

For example, you’re in a collision and initially seem fine. However a few months later you start having symptoms of PTSD such as insomnia and nightmares. Though not impossible, at this point it would be challenging to tie your PTSD to the accident.


It’s important to monitor your body closely to make sure that your legal rights are protected after an accident. Injuries can take some time to show up after an accident. How you handle these late injury can have significant impact on the value of your accident claim. Just remember:

        • Going into shock can mask many symptoms of injury. In many cases it can take several days or weeks for the injuries to properly register.
        • There are many injuries that can appear after an accident, three of the most common are whiplash, headaches, and PTSD.
        • Delayed onset injuries can present problems in the claims process, be sure to listen to your body carefully, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
        • Don’t settle your claim too quickly. Protect yourself by visiting a doctor immediately to see the extent of your injuries.


1-Arrow Head Clinic
3-Mayo Clinic

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