When you are in a car accident, you expect any injuries to appear quickly, simply because of the violent nature of most auto accidents. However, it is very common for symptoms and conditions to evolve over time. This can pose a problem when you are trying to determine causation, because it can be hard to establish that an injury is a direct result of your car accident when a fair amount of time has passed. It is generally a good idea to understand the legal reasoning behind liability and statutes of limitations, so you do not waste your time filing suit when it may be too late.
Common Delayed Symptoms & Injuries
There are a multitude of symptoms that can appear days or weeks after an auto accident, largely due to shock and the presence or lack of adrenaline and endorphins masking the pain and discomfort. (This is common in physically traumatic events.) While some symptoms may not even appear related, some are generally traceable back to the accident, but with anything out of the ordinary, it is best to have it checked out. Examples include:
- While they are often minor inconveniences, it is possible for a headache to herald a subdural hematoma or other closed head injury
- Neck or shoulder pain. This is one of the most common conditions, and is usually a precursor to whiplash, or soft tissue injury
- Back pain. This is an extremely common warning sign of a spinal injury.
- Changes in personality or mood swings. These can be signs of several possible emotional or mental issues, including concussion, other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and post-traumatic stress disorder. Concussions in particular can have long-lasting effects, potentially leading to posttraumatic seizures later in life
While a medical professional should manage any and all injuries, it is also generally a good idea to advise your insurance company of an injury that appears later on after your accident.
Potential Issues For Your Case
The main legal hurdle that may appear if delayed injuries make themselves known is that it can make it harder for your insurance company to evaluate and place a dollar value on your claim. It may also complicate a lawsuit, given that the rules of evidence in most states (including South Carolina) may exclude some items that could show the extent of your injuries. For example, it is not uncommon for courts to exclude some injury evidence simply because it is similar to that already admitted.
The other issue you may encounter is the statute of limitations on filing a personal injury case in South Carolina. Generally, you have two years during which you can file your case, but if a major injury does not make itself known during that time frame, you may lose the ability to incorporate the condition into your evidence as plaintiff. For example, certain types of neurological issues may cause significant damages and quality of life impairments, but may take many years to diagnose. If possible, you may wish to have an attorney preserve your evolving medical diagnoses on the record.
Contact An Auto Accident Attorney
If you have been in an auto accident, you may be experiencing new and worrisome symptoms and have no idea how to handle them. After talking with your doctor, it is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney. The skilled North Charleston auto accident lawyers at Callihan & Syracuse understand the confusion and exhaustion that can come with bringing a lawsuit, and we will work with you every step of the way to make it less intimidating. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.