How Long After Car Accident Before Pain Starts?

Our car accident clients at the Ritchie Law Firm often tell us that they didn’t really feel any pain immediately after their car accident. But, several hours later, they began to experience pain which grew increasingly worse. The cause of delayed pain after a car accident is frequently the result of a “fight or flight” adrenaline response, which initially numbs the body to pain. This article will explain what to do if you experience delayed pain after a car accident.

What Can Cause Delayed Pain After a Car Accident?

  • Adrenaline rush/”fight or flight” — when you’ve suffered a traumatic event, like a car accident, your body often releases the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline is called the “fight or flight” hormone because it can help you survive in situations that you perceive to be dangerous. Adrenaline’s self-preservation properties shuts down body functions that aren’t necessary for protection. For example, adrenaline shifts blood flow from organs to muscles. With more blood pumping to the muscles after a car accident, it’s no surprise that you may not feel an injury until later when there is less adrenaline pumping through your body.
  • Inflammation — After the effects of adrenaline have worn off after a car accident, the body can start to respond to physical injuries. As the body begins to respond to severe injuries, or even milder injuries, caused by a car accident, swelling at the injury site will often appear. This swelling, also known as inflammation, increases blood flow to the injury site and can push on nerve endings causing pain.

woman with delayed neck pain

Severe Injuries

More severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injury described below, a spinal cord injury, or internal bleeding should be treated immediately upon noticing symptoms. Seeking immediate medical attention after experiencing more severe motor vehicle accident injuries will help speed recovery and may prevent permanent injuries. Delaying medical treatment for severe car accident injuries can cause a delay in recovery.

Symptoms of severe injuries include traumatic brain injuries (symptoms described below), difficulty walking, changes in behavior, severe headache, or dizziness.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury caused by a car accident is a severe injury. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include, among others:

  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of memory
  • loss of consciousness
  • confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • blurred or double vision

Most Common Injuries with Delayed Symptoms

When you visit a doctor or other medical professional after experiencing delayed pain symptoms, you will want to make sure you give a complete and accurate history of the events surrounding the motor vehicle collision as well when your pain began. For instance, you need to explain to your doctor how your pain was delayed after the car crash and how it has progressed to today.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) or closed head injury is an injury that often occurs with impact caused by a car accident. With a traumatic brain injury, the brain is shaken against the skull, which damages the brain tissue and can cause bruising, bleeding, or fluid buildup.

man with back pain

Back Pain

Back pain after a car accident can be delayed or initially felt some time after a car accident. Minor back pain is typically caused by a soft tissue injury, such as a muscle strain or sprain in the lumbar or thoracic spine area. You should seek medical attention for delayed pain symptoms in your back so that the injury does not become a more serious injury.

Tingling or Numbness

Many car accident victims experience a tingling or numb sensation in their arms or legs after a car crash. These symptoms are often caused by an injury to the neck, shoulders, back, or hips. Symptoms of tingling or numbness in the arms or legs should be treated by a doctor immediately or as soon as possible after experiencing them.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck pain (whiplash injury) or shoulder pain after a car accident is common. Many times, these injuries are the result of minor injuries or soft tissue injuries and resolve on their own. However, when neck pain or shoulder pain doesn’t resolve within a reasonable time period, you will want to have the injury evaluated by a medical professional.


Headaches that occur after a car crash can be frustrating and difficult to treat. They are often difficult to treat because they may take a while to resolve and it may not be clear whether they are caused by an injury (from neck pain), stress, or depression. Headaches that don’t go away within a reasonable time after a motor vehicle crash should receive medical attention.

Car Accident Lawyer

It’s important to recognize that insurance companies will do almost anything they can to deny a car accident claim, especially if there was a delayed onset of injury symptoms. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you can expect to be busy filing insurance claims not only for your injuries, but also for the property damage to your vehicle.  You will need obtain the police report and provide that to your insurance adjuster. You can also expect to be requesting medical records and documentation for any lost wages. This means that you will likely be dealing with insurance adjusters at some point.  Dealing with an insurance company is not as straightforward as it may seem.  There are many traps which can negatively impact the value of your case. So, it is just commonsense that you would consult with a personal injury attorney about your case before you make a mistake.

Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation for personal injury cases. It won’t cost you anything to talk with them and get some advice. Then, you can decide whether you need a personal injury attorney helping you with your case before incurring legal fees.

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Talk with a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

If you have questions about how to settle a serious car accident case, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  If you are planning to handle your car accident claim without the help of a lawyer, it is best to get some advice before settling your claim. The experienced personal injury lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm help car accident victims get the recovery they deserve after an auto accident.  The best personal injury lawyers will have substantial recoveries for car accidents clients listed on their websites. Check out Ritchie Law Firm’s success with personal injury cases on our settlements and recoveries page.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Virginia and are concerned about dealing with the insurance adjuster after a Virginia car accident, your personal injury attorney at the Ritchie Law firm has you covered.  The experienced, certified Virginia car accident attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims from car accidents and their families recover the full compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form to learn about your legal rights.

DON’T GET HURT TWICE!! Your Virginia car accident attorney team at the Ritchie Law Firm will help you deal with the insurance adjuster after a Virginia car accident. We have helped thousands of injured people get the money they deserve after they’ve been injured. Call today to get your free case evaluation and free consultation — 800-277-6124.

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Ritchie Law Firm is a Virginia and West Virginia personal injury lawyer and car accident attorney law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. The personal injury lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.


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