How Long Should I Be Sore After a Car Accident?

December 17, 2019 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
How Long Should I Be Sore After a Car Accident?

Painful Symptoms Following a Car Accident Injury

For many of our clients, one word describes the days and weeks following a major car accident: painful. Even a “minor” car accident can inflict serious and lasting discomfort. While all pain is unwelcome, some of it is to be expected, of course. But as the weeks and months after an accident wear on, and pain still lingers, accident victims start to wonder: “How long is this going to last?” Then, frequently, another thought occurs to them, this one more troubling: “Am I more badly hurt than I thought?” In this blog post, we offer some guidance on what to do about a car accident injury that says painful longer than you think it ought to, and on your legal rights for addressing long-lasting injuries from a car accident. To learn more about seeking compensation for car accident injuries, contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney today.

Is It Normal That I'm Still Sore From My Car Accident?

Let us say up front that we aren't doctors. We can't offer you any medical advice. Do not use the discussion below to try to diagnose yourself. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our universal advice to all of our clients is for them to seek appropriate emergency and follow-up medical care, always. Only a qualified doctor can diagnose your injuries and advise you on an appropriate course of treatment. This is especially true when it comes to experiencing pain, which varies widely from person to person. In our experience as lawyers (not doctors), it is common for soreness from a motor vehicle accident to last longer than you might think it should. Of course, to a significant degree, your age, the nature of your injury, and the overall state of your health will affect how long it takes to heal. But as a general matter, it often seems like injuries last too long because of the unexpected inconvenience they impose on your life. Pain after a car accident injury isn't like the pain recovering from a planned surgery, when your doctor has told you how long to expect pain to last. You didn't have a choice about the pain inflicted by a car accident. You want it to be gone as soon as possible, even if that's sooner than is realistic. So yes, to some degree, in our experience with our clients it is normal for someone to stay sore longer than they might expect after a car accident. But that doesn't mean it's always normal, or that soreness that lasts-and-lasts is something you can or should simply accept. Not by a long shot. Here are some common scenarios in which lingering soreness could constitute a sign of a more significant, even life-threatening, health problem.

Hidden Injuries

One of the reasons we urge all of our clients and potential clients to seek appropriate medical care immediately after a car accident—any car accident—is because people are terrible at being their own doctors. For starters, in the moments after a car accident, victims' adrenaline runs high, frequently masking the severity of pain they might otherwise be feeling. As that adrenaline subsides, pain becomes more apparent, sometimes revealing severe injuries. Other injuries, by their very nature, do not show symptoms right away. Whiplash, for example, is a common car accident injury involving damage to the soft tissues in the neck that tends to become most painful in the days after a car accident, instead of immediately. Other invisible (a.k.a. internal) injuries such as traumatic brain injury or internal bleeding may take hours or days to begin showing symptoms, and often, by the time those symptoms emerge, the situation is dire. In other words, while lingering soreness could be normal, it may also constitute a sign of an injury you didn't even realize you had suffered.

Making Things Worse by Toughing It Out

Not only are people generally terrible at being their own doctors, but they also have a remarkable ability to mislead themselves about their overall state of health. Some people—probably many more than would freely admit it—treat pain as either something unavoidable in their lives or even a sign of their own weakness. As a result, many people believe that the only way to confront pain is to tough it out. But, here's the problem with that mindset. No one is going to give you an award for how much pain you can endure. And the fact is, pain is your body's way of telling you something isn't right. Talking yourself into thinking it's normal, and even a virtue, to endure pain, puts you at risk of ignoring pain that signals a dangerous turn in your health for the worse. Living with pain can also cause your health to deteriorate. Pain affects how we move and hold ourselves, the quality of our sleep, and our overall emotional and mental health. So toughing it out can lead to an overall decline in your wellbeing.

Chronic and Degenerative Conditions

Some car accident injuries technically heal, but leave the accident victim with chronic pain. Other injuries increase the chance of secondary health conditions, such as the premature failure of a joint or disintegration of bone that brings their own array of painful symptoms and disabilities. These conditions are as much car accident injuries as the initial injury you suffered that technically healed. Early medical intervention and therapy could slow down these conditions or even prevent them altogether. But first, you have to recognize them as something other than normal, and as conditions resulting directly from your car accident.

So How Do I Tell Normal Soreness From Something More Serious?

Auto Accident Attorneys FloridaSee a doctor. We can't say this enough. Do not diagnose yourself. Do not tough it out. Do not assume arthritis or a disintegrating spinal disc are just signs of aging, rather than the direct result of an earlier car accident injury (including one you never discovered). Go to a doctor and get checked out, instead of wondering and potentially ignoring a serious condition.

But What If The Doctor Tells Me The Soreness Isn't Normal? Then What?

First, follow the doctor's instructions on getting appropriate treatment and therapy. Then, schedule a visit with an experienced car accident injury attorney. Why visit with an attorney? Because if that soreness is the sign of a more serious health condition, then there's a good chance you deserve significant compensation from whoever caused your car accident. And because you really have nothing to lose in sitting down for a free consultation with a lawyer. People sometimes come to us thinking that if they didn't feel hurt right away after a car accident, then they don't have a case against the at-fault party. We can understand why they might think that, but they are mistaken. A car accident injury that emerges weeks or months (or even years) after an accident can still form the basis of a successful car accident injury claim. You just need an experienced car accident injury attorney to help you pursue it. Better yet, visit a car accident lawyer as soon as you can after a car accident happens, before soreness from an accident seems to have lasted too long. Experienced car accident lawyers can help you find medical support to determine whether you sustained an injury that has a likelihood of getting worse over time, and what you can do to prevent that from happening. Lawyers also have lots of experience evaluating what the future costs of a car accident injury are likely to be, so that you can seek compensation that pays all of the costs that might arise, not just the ones you know about right now.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

It depends a lot on your particular situation. But as a general matter, an experienced car accident attorney's focus is on figuring out how to recover the compensation you deserve for an injury that wasn't your fault. In the case of an injury that has lingered for a while, your potential options for recovering compensation will depend on a variety of factors, including:
  • Who caused the accident that led to your continued soreness. In Florida, it's easier to sue some parties than others. In cases where the other driver causes an accident, accident victims must first seek compensation from their own no fault insurance coverage. Victims can only take legal action against the other driver and certain parties responsible for his conduct if they suffered particularly catastrophic injuries. However, Florida's no fault insurance laws do not usually stand in the way of seeking compensation from non-driver-related parties whose actions caused a car accident.
  • When you first sought medical care for the pain. This is one of the many reasons it's so important to see a doctor. The earlier you seek medical care for a car accident injury, whether you not you knew the injury was caused by the car accident, the better your chances of obtaining compensation for that injury down the road. As time passes, other potential explanations for your continuing pain pile up, making it potentially harder to prove the pain's cause.
  • The strength of your diagnosis. The more certainty a doctor has about what is causing your continued pain after a car accident, the greater the ability of your lawyer to prove the amount of compensation you deserve. Sometimes a lawyer can help strengthen your diagnosis by connecting you with medical specialists who treat car accident victims.
  • Your attorney's skills and resources. Not all lawyers are created equal. Some just want easy cases. Others aren't afraid of digging deep into the facts and the law to help a client recover maximum damages. Your best chance of getting the money you need and deserve results from hiring a lawyer who has a reputation for excellence and a track record of results.

Will I Recover Millions of Dollars in a Settlement?

Without knowing the details of your situation, we have no idea, and neither does any other reputable lawyer. Every case is different, and when it comes to long-lasting pain after a car accident, the amount of damages depends on the results of the investigation you, your doctor, and your lawyer do together to figure out what's wrong and what it will take to get you better. Is it possible a car accident injury can lead to a large damages settlement? Yes. Can an honest lawyer tell you how much money an injury claim is worth right-off-the-bat? No. What a lawyer can tell you is the types of damages you might recover for a car accident injury. They fall into two general categories:
  • Economic damages (a.k.a. special damages). This is compensation for out-of-pocket costs related to a car accident injury, such as medical bills, replacement services (such as housecleaning or transportation), and lost wages from missing work.
  • Non-economic damages (a.k.a. general damages). This is compensation for the pain, inconvenience, and negative impacts a car accident injury inflicted on your life.
Sometimes, in cases that involve extremely bad conduct on the part of the person or company who caused your injury, a court may also award so-called punitive (or exemplary) damages aimed at punishing that party. Ask your lawyer about the potential for punitive damages in your case.

How Long Would It Take to Recover Damages?

There is no telling. Some cases can resolve in a matter of weeks. Others can take years. But as a general matter, the stronger a case is, the faster it goes. Which is why—say it with us—you should always see a doctor right away after a car accident. The more evidence you have that the pain you feel today resulted from a car accident weeks, months, or even years ago, the better your chances of holding the person or company who harmed you accountable. Pain is an unwelcome part of the aftermath of most car accidents. Pain that lasts longer than you think it should might be normal, but it also might be a sign of a serious condition that you will need financial resources to treat. Get started on obtaining the compensation you deserve by speaking with an experienced Florida car accident attorney today. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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