Car accidents are sudden, often traumatic events that can leave people shaken and disoriented. Amidst the immediate chaos and stress, it’s not uncommon for injuries to go unnoticed. Some injuries, especially those involving soft tissues, the brain, or internal organs, may not present obvious symptoms until hours, days, or even weeks after the accident.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, consulting with a healthcare provider and a legal professional as soon as possible after the accident can help safeguard your health and legal rights.

What to Know About Late Appearing Car Accident Injuries

In the aftermath of a car accident, adrenaline and shock can mask pain and injury. It’s very important to seek medical care as soon as possible to ensure early detection and treatment of any possible injuries – even if you do not believe you are injured. A medical check-up can prevent injuries from getting worse due to lack of treatment and make it easier to collect fair compensation. Medical records from a check-up after the accident serve as critical evidence for an insurance claim or a lawsuit because they establish a clear link between the accident and your injuries.

After the initial checkup, be sure to visit your doctor again if additional symptoms appear. Here are some common late-appearing injuries along with the symptoms to watch out for:


Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents. Symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, and headaches might not become apparent until a day or more after the collision.

Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Symptoms like dizziness, headaches, confusion, and even behavioral changes can be delayed. TBIs can have long-term consequences if not promptly diagnosed and treated.

Internal Injuries

Damage to organs, internal bleeding, and other internal injuries might not show immediate symptoms. These can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Back and Spinal Injuries

Pain, numbness, or mobility issues related to the spine or back can develop over time, potentially indicating serious conditions like herniated discs or spinal fractures.

Emotional and Psychological Injuries

Conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might not emerge until well after the accident, impacting your mental health and overall well-being.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Washington State

The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In Washington State, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those resulting from car accidents, is generally three years from the date of the accident.

While the statute of limitations sets a maximum time to file a claim, it also gives time for the plaintiff (injured party) to understand the true extent of their injuries and the expenses associated with treatment and recovery. In addition, the three-year period provides ample time for a car accident lawyer to gather evidence and prepare the legal arguments required to build a compelling case.

Car accidents can have far-reaching impacts on health and well-being and injuries that appear late can complicate recovery and legal processes. Seeking immediate medical care, even if you feel uninjured, is vital for your health and any potential legal claims.

Contact a Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney

A car accident lawyer can help you recover a full and fair settlement for the injuries you sustained in a car accident with no up-front costs to you. We know the sneaky strategies used by insurance companies to get injured people to agree to settlements far below what they are worth. Our clients typically end up with a settlement or jury award that is five to ten times larger than they could have negotiated on their own. We have been representing people injured in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. Contact the experienced and hard-working personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Mount Vernon, WA today for a FREE consultation!

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