Virginia recorded 122,434 car accidents in 2022, a 3.3% increase from 2021. Someone suffered an injury in at least 37,550 of those collisions. Some accidents result in life-threatening injuries, while others cause minor injuries and property damage. In many cases, the injuries sustained in a car accident are visible and apparent immediately following the collision. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, an accident victim does not discover the extent of their injuries until some time has passed. If you do not realize you suffered an injury until several weeks after your car accident, you can still file a personal injury claim.
A car accident lawyer can examine the circumstances of your accident and help you determine whether you can file a lawsuit. Contact an attorney at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, to review the facts of your case.
What Happens If I Do Not Suffer Injuries Right After a Car Accident?
Even if you do not notice any apparent injuries after an accident, you should still get a full medical evaluation. In some cases, people go into shock or have a rush of adrenaline after a car accident, preventing them from experiencing any pain or discomfort from their injuries. A full medical evaluation can highlight injuries you did not realize existed before your visit.
You also need to document your initial medical visit to prove that you tried to discover injuries immediately after the collision. Otherwise, the opposing party may claim you delayed treatment, worsening your injury. Car accident victims have an obligation to mitigate their damages by seeking medical treatment and beginning the healing process. Plaintiffs who fail to do so may not be able to recover as much in damages. If you do not seek medical attention until a significant period of time has passed, the opposing party will likely claim that you suffered the injury in a separate incident that happened after the accident. An experienced car accident attorney can help guide you through this process, even if some time has elapsed since your accident.
How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?
Car accident injuries can sometimes appear long after the accident occurs. Symptoms of a brain injury can appear weeks after the incident. Unfortunately, someone might ignore symptoms of a head injury, dismissing them as typical discomfort. Consequences of untreated brain injury include:
- Altered consciousness, including coma and brain death;
- Cognitive and executive functioning problems;
- Inability to communicate;
- Behavioral and emotional changes; and
- Memory loss.
There is no concrete time period after which injuries from an accident cannot arise. However, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove their injury came from the car accident.
To prevail in a car accident claim, the plaintiff must prove that the at-fault party’s negligence caused the accident that inflicted the injuries and that the injuries would not have happened if they hadn’t acted negligently. The risk of an injury that appears after the fact is that the opposing party will likely claim that you suffered the injury in a separate incident after the car accident. That is why getting a medical evaluation to document any injuries or abnormalities as soon as possible after the collision is crucial.
Consider that you hit your head during an accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury, but you did not seek medical treatment and receive a diagnosis until a week later. The opposing party can claim that you sustained the brain injury in the week between the accident and the medical visit. Even if the defendant does not have proof that another accident occurred, they can cast some doubt about the relationship between the original accident and the injury. Therefore, seeking professional medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident is important so you are aware of any potential injuries and have a record of them.
Common Types of Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents
Car accidents can inflict a range of injuries from very minor to extremely severe. Examples of common injuries in car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI),
- Skull fractures,
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Road rash,
- Cuts and lacerations,
- Scrapes and bruises, and
Although some injuries are apparent immediately after the collision, others may remain under the surface for hours, days, or even weeks. Ensure you seek medical treatment immediately after your accident so a professional can diagnose any injuries.
When Is it Too Late to File a Claim for Injuries Suffered in a Car Accident?
A car accident victim cannot file a claim for injuries they suffered in a car accident after the statute of limitations expires.
Virginia imposes a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, though, in some scenarios, an exception can extend or shorten the two-year period. The clock starts ticking on the day the automobile accident occurred.
Allowing the Virginia statute of limitations for car accidents to expire extinguishes your right to file a lawsuit against the party that caused the accident. If you try to file your claim after the period ends, the judge will likely dismiss your case.
Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, Today
If any time passed before you discovered the extent of your car accident injuries, you can still file a personal injury claim. However, the opposing party will likely deny that the accident caused the injury. A car accident attorney can help collect evidence to prove your case. Our team at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, has over 47 years of legal experience navigating personal injury lawsuits and car accident cases.
We will not let the at-fault party avoid liability by falsely claiming that you suffered injuries after the car accident. Our team will collect medical records, witness statements, and other evidence to demonstrate that your injuries came from the car accident.
Contact The Law Office of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, today to schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can start working on your case.