Whenever we suffer an injury, there’s this natural reflex to think, “Is this normal?” As humans, we tend to think of the worst-case scenario. With car accidents, there are so many unknown variables, so it’s natural to question unusual symptoms after an accident.
Unfortunately, car accidents are a common occurrence in Florida. In one recent year alone, 403,626 crashes took place across the state. Over one-third of these accidents were injury crashes, and 15,000 involved incapacitating injuries. While some pain is to be expected after an accident, it’s important to understand the difference between “normal” pain and pain that is cause for concern.
Why Do We Experience Pain After an Accident?
It seems like such a simple question, yet there are so many different answers. Pain is usually the result of trauma. It’s your body’s natural alarm system that says “Warning! Something’s going on.” Pain happens from all sorts of injuries. From stepping on that somehow invisible Lego to serious car accidents, pain lets us know to exercise more caution in the future.
As humans, we experience different types of pain. This includes:
- Sharp pain: People often describe this pain as stabbing or shooting. The pain is severe and spontaneous, but it usually goes away relatively quickly.
- Aching pain: Aching pain is common. It’s that pain that’s not too bothersome, but it just doesn’t go away. This pain may get worse with movement.
- Radiating pain: Radiating pain starts from one location and travels to different locations. This is often the case with neck or back pain which may radiate down the arms or legs.
- Throbbing pain: This type of pain feels like your heartbeat at the point of injury and can cause extreme discomfort.
How Long Is It Normal to Feel Sore?
The number one question that everyone wants to know after an accident is: “How long is it normal to feel sore?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Following an accident injury, there are so many factors that will affect how sore you are and how long this soreness will last. These factors include:
- Your age: As much as we don’t like to admit it, younger people tend to bounce back more quickly than older individuals.
- Your overall health: Someone who has a pre-existing back injury will respond differently to a car accident than someone who is in perfect health. A car accident can aggravate a previous injury and worsen pain or create new pain.
- Your position in the vehicle: Were you the driver? A passenger? Where you are in the vehicle can make a big difference in what type of pain you experience. In a front impact accident, the driver may suffer greater injuries if the impact causes the airbag to go off. On the other hand, in a rear-end accident, the passengers in the backseat may sustain more of the trauma.
- Safety devices: Were you wearing your seatbelt? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, passengers in the front seat reduce their odds of moderate to critical injury by up to 50 percent, just by buckling up.
It’s impossible to determine how long you will feel sore following an injury. There are so many variables that affect soreness after an accident that no two people will ever experience pain in the same way.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
We all respond to pain differently. Some people will heal quickly, while others may spend weeks or months in pain. After a car accident, it’s important to take the right steps to make sure you get the care you need. Florida law allows accident victims four years to file a personal injury suit after an accident. That means even if you don’t feel pain right away, you still have a right to file a claim down the road. That being said, regardless of the onset of your pain, there are a few things you need to do after an accident.
Go to the Doctor
One of the best ways to prevent pain and determine if that pain is normal is to go to the doctor. It is always a good idea to get checked out, even if you aren’t actively in pain. A doctor can perform an evaluation and give you tips to prevent pain or tell you what to do when pain comes on. If you are in pain when you visit the doctor, make sure that you tell the doctor what type of pain you are experiencing and when it began. Be honest about your actual level of pain.
Florida requires all drivers to carry $10,000 in PIP insurance. Even if there is an issue of fault, you can still get the medical care that you need. However, to use this insurance, you must see a doctor within 14 days of your accident. To use your full PIP, your doctor must diagnose you with an emergency medical condition. Don’t let the term “emergency medical condition” prevent you from trying to use your PIP. The term is more inclusive than you may think.
Take It Easy
It’s natural to want to get back to work and go back to normal life. However, this can make your pain worse and may even cause your soreness to linger. The best thing that you can do after an accident is to take it easy. PIP not only covers medical care, but it also covers 60 percent of lost wages. Additionally, a personal injury suit can help you recover wages for any time that you miss from work, or if you don’t work, the cost of services to replace your duties, such as cleaning and cooking. Tell your employer what is going on, get medical documentation, and talk to an attorney about your rights.
Sit Down With an Attorney
If you are feeling sore after an accident, that means you sustained some sort of injury. Whether it is a minor sprain or a broken bone, pain is not normal. When someone else’s negligence causes your pain, you deserve fair and just compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you fight for your rights under Florida law.
Why Am I in Pain?
We’ve briefly touched on why pain happens, but an accident can cause many injuries that don’t always reveal themselves immediately. These injuries can result in different types of pain that can last different amounts of time. One of the best things that you can do is to be informed about possible injuries after an accident and know how to recognize the difference between a normal response to an injury and when something is wrong. Common injuries after a car accident include:
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are some of the most common injuries after a car accident. This can include sprains and strains or disc injuries, like herniated and bulging discs. For strains and sprains, the pain will usually go away within a couple of weeks. If the pain lasts longer than this, it may be a sign of a disc issue. At this point, your doctor may suggest imaging to determine the source of the pain.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. According to the Shepherd Center, there are about 17,500 new spinal cord injuries every year. Approximately 38 percent are the result of a motor vehicle accident.
Spinal cord injuries are serious injuries and often lead to permanent paralysis. This is why it’s important to understand the difference between a backache and something more serious. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:
- Extreme back pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Loss of sensation
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
Because these injuries are so serious, it’s important to seek medical treatment right away if you experience any symptoms similar to the ones listed above.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries can be anything from a headache to a serious, life-threatening head injury. When you are dealing with the brain, it is always important to take symptoms seriously. Because it’s impossible to tell the difference between a headache that is a side effect of whiplash or one that is a symptom of a brain injury, you should always talk to a doctor if you experience sudden headaches. We always suggest talking to a doctor if you hit your head during an accident.
Other symptoms of a TBI include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Mood changes
- Trouble sleeping
How Do I Recover Damages After a Car Accident?
Often, people think, “I’m just a little sore. It’s no big deal.” However, you wouldn’t believe how many people we talk to that are still sore years after an accident. Injuries, especially neck and back injuries, can cause long-term, chronic pain. As such, it’s important to take your injuries seriously. A personal injury claim can help you recover damages related to your current pain and can help compensate you for any future pain you may incur.
Common damages include:
- Medical bills: There are a variety of treatments that help you deal with pain. This may include chiropractic care, steroid injections, medication, physical therapy, and even surgery. These services come at a cost. The goal of a personal injury suit is to recover all costs associated with your medical treatment.
- Lost wages: Pain can make it difficult to return to work. Even if you do return to work, you may find that you cannot do your job. When your injuries prevent you from going to work, a personal injury suit can help you recover lost wages from the date of your injuries until you can return to work. If your pain is so severe that you cannot return to your previous line of work, you may recover future wages or retraining services.
- Medical devices: There are a lot of great tools that can help alleviate pain. This may include heating pads, ice packs, TENS units, or pain relief creams. You should include these costs in your personal injury claim.
- Pain and suffering: In Florida, personal injury suits do take into account pain. However, this is one of the most variable components of a personal injury case. Pain differs from person to person and accident to accident. Generally, the value of your damages will depend on just how sore you are, how long the pain lasts, and how much it interferes with your life. Pain and suffering not only covers physical pain, but it also covers physical distress, like anxiety and depression.
- Loss of enjoyment: Pain can make doing the activities you once loved unbearable. This isn’t fair, but it happens all the time. When pain takes away the activities that you enjoy, a personal injury suit can help you recover from this loss.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Provide More Information
When you’re sore, it’s natural to look for a way to eliminate your pain and try to find an answer about when it will stop. Every case is different, but the ultimate goal of a personal injury suit is to help you return to as close to your pre-accident self as possible. The best thing you can do when you are feeling sore is to work with health professionals to find what works for you and what reduces your pain. This may require a little experimenting.
When you try to recover from an accident, the last thing you want to worry about is how you are going to pay for your care. This stress can actually prolong your soreness. While money won’t completely take away your pain, it can help alleviate your financial worries, which may actually be contributing to your pain. You don’t have to tough it out. The law allows you to recover damages after an accident that was not your fault. If you have been in a recent accident and need help determining what comes next, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have questions, contact a car accident lawyer for answers.