When most people picture a car accident, they imagine immediately apparent injuries such as lacerations or broken bones. They may not realize injuries can also have delayed symptoms. A victim’s adrenaline after a car accident can mask the signs of an injury in some cases. In others, the injury might not cause symptoms until days or weeks later. Here, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys discuss how to handle a delayed injury claim for the best possible results in Georgia.
Statute of Limitation to File a Claim for Delayed Injuries
As a car accident survivor, it is important to know your statute of limitations. This is a law that will restrict how long you have to file a claim in Georgia. If you miss the statute of limitations on your car accident claim, you will most likely forfeit the right to seek financial recovery. The courts will bar you from bringing a cause of action after the expiration of your statute of limitations.
In general, a plaintiff will have a maximum of two years to file a claim for physical or emotional injuries after a car accident in Georgia. The deadline might be different, however, on a case involving delayed injuries. Georgia has an exception for cases where the physical injury is not apparent on the day of the accident. If you had a delayed injury, you will have two years from the date of injury discovery or diagnosis – or the date you reasonably should have discovered your injury – rather than the date of the car accident to file. You will have a little extra time to file your claim with a delayed injury.
Examples of Delayed Injuries
The human body is complex. Some parts of the body may sustain damage in an auto accident without showing outward signs. One of the most common examples is the brain. Many serious and even fatal traumatic brain injuries do not show immediate symptoms. Instead, the brain may quietly swell or bleed internally without the victim exhibiting any symptoms the day of the car accident. The patient may only notice signs when the damage has escalated to the point of a catastrophic injury. A minor brain injury, such as a concussion, could also have delayed symptoms.
Soft-tissue injuries are also common in delayed injury claims. These are injuries to the muscles, tendons or ligaments. A torn, sprained or damaged muscle may not be instantly noticeable due to the excitement of the car crash. The victim may only notice pain, stiffness, soreness, swelling or bruising in the days following the collision. A whiplash injury is an example of a common soft-tissue injury with delayed symptoms. Whiplash can take days or even weeks for symptoms to appear.
Spinal cord injuries may also not show signs right away. While a victim may notice a severe spinal cord injury through symptoms such as tingling or the inability to move, less serious back injuries could exhibit symptoms later. An injured spinal cord disk, for example, may not bother a victim until days later, when he or she moves a certain way and the disk slips or herniates. Another type of back injury that could cause problems months or even years later is degenerative disk disease. This eventually can cause back pain and immobility from previous trauma to the spine.
What to Do If You Have Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident
Delayed injuries are somewhat common in car accident claims. This is why it is important not to postpone medical care after a collision. Shock or adrenaline may prevent you from feeling your injuries, but a doctor can run tests to diagnose them regardless. Prompt medical care could help your recovery. If you do wait to seek medical care, document your visit when you do. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Gwinnett County right away for advice about how to proceed with a delayed injury insurance claim. It can be more difficult to obtain a fair settlement with a delayed claim. A lawyer can help you document and prove your injuries.