Recovering After a Car Accident

male doing PT after being involved in a car accident near NYC

Soreness and pain after a car wreck are common, and how long you’ll be sore depends on the types and extent of the injuries you sustained. Visiting the emergency room immediately after a crash is essential so that a doctor can examine you to determine the appropriate treatment plan for healing.

You should seek treatment even if your injury appears minor. Sometimes, symptoms don’t start until days later, and without prompt medical attention, your symptoms could worsen and lead to permanent issues.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident in New York

You must take immediate action to protect your health and any potential compensation after a car crash that wasn’t your fault. The most crucial steps you should take include:

  • Go to the hospital – You must go to the hospital after leaving the accident scene. Let an ambulance transport you if your injury is so severe that you cannot drive yourself. You might think you’re not hurt, but some injuries aren’t noticeable. Internal bleeding and other medical problems are difficult to diagnose without an examination.
  • Maintain records – You should always keep copies of documents related to your case. You might want to pursue compensation from the negligent driver. Gathering your medical records, bills, and other documentation can help prove who is at fault and the injury you sustained in the collision.
  • Hire a lawyer – Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is beneficial. They can investigate and obtain evidence to show the insurance company you are entitled to compensation. You can focus on treating your injury while your lawyer handles every aspect of your case.

Average Recovery Time for Car Accident Injuries

The duration of your recovery will depend on the type and extent of the injuries you sustained. Predicting an exact timeframe is impossible. However, your medical provider can estimate how long it might take to heal.

Minor fender benders often cause mild aches and pains. Soreness can last a couple of days or several weeks. Although some scrapes and bruises are common, serious injuries, such as broken bones and spinal cord injuries, aren’t typical in a minor accident.

You might feel some pain and tightness in your muscles. A pulled tendon can cause mild discomfort and range of motion issues. You might expect a full recovery in about six weeks with adequate treatment.

Minor injuries that cause pain and soreness after a car wreck include:

  • Whiplash – Whiplash is common in car crashes. The head snaps forward and backward like a whip, affecting the cervical spine, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. Symptoms often resolve within several weeks after resting and taking over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Deep bruising – You might notice bruises after a car wreck. They commonly appear where your body impacts objects, such as your chest, from the seatbelt. The pain can linger for over a month, making movement uncomfortable and impairing range of motion.
  • Muscle sprains and strains – You might strain or sprain a muscle during the collision. Sprains and strains can affect any area of your body, from your back and neck to your legs or abdomen. The pain shouldn’t last too long if you treat your symptoms properly. At-home remedies like rest, ice, and elevation should be sufficient.

More severe injuries require significant time to heal, such as:

  • Brain injury – A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a jolt or blow to the head or body causes the brain to shake violently inside the skull. It can take months or years to recover from a TBI, depending on the severity of the damage. If the damage is too pervasive, recovery may not be possible.
  • Spinal cord injury – A spinal cord injury involves damage to the spinal cord or nearby bones and tissue. A loss of mobility and function is common if the injury is severe. Physical therapy can restore movement and nerve function within the first six months. Some people see improvements after one or two years. However, some spinal cord injuries are permanent, causing partial or total paralysis.
  • Broken bones – The treatment necessary for a broken bone depends on the type and location of the fracture. Some breaks take up to six or eight weeks to heal. Severe fractures can take longer. Typically, the pain is more severe in the beginning. Muscle tightness appears from a lack of activity and movement after soft tissue and bones start healing.

Treating Chronic Symptoms After a Car Accident

Some symptoms can indicate an underlying issue requiring prompt medical attention, whether you went to the emergency room after the crash or chose to rest and recover at home. You must visit a doctor if circumstances arise, such as:

  • Emergency symptoms – The emergency room physician should give you a list of symptoms to watch for within days of the crash. If you notice one or multiple symptoms, go back to the emergency room for additional treatment. Your symptoms could indicate an injury the initial examination didn’t detect.
  • Follow-up care – Your medical provider might have recommended follow-up care with them or a specialist. You should listen to your doctor and treat your injury according to their instructions. Missing appointments can delay your recovery or lead to complications.
  • Ongoing pain from a minor injury – Minor stiffness and soreness should resolve within six to eight weeks. If you notice ongoing pain after two months, schedule an appointment with your physician. There might be an undiagnosed injury from the collision.
  • Leg or arm weakness – Experiencing weakness in your legs or arms can indicate a spinal cord injury. You should head to the emergency room for a physical exam and imaging test. Treatment is necessary to alleviate symptoms and prevent permanent injury.
  • Shortness of breath – You should seek treatment if you notice shortness of breath while performing routine tasks. Trauma to the chest can damage the lungs and heart. A fractured rib might puncture a lung.
  • Trouble sleeping – Sleep disturbances are common after car accidents. Falling asleep is challenging when you’re in constant pain. Sometimes, psychological trauma causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), keeping people up at night. You might need additional treatment to address your mental health.

Contact a Dedicated Car Accident Lawyer Today

Finz & Finz, P.C. has fought for injured clients in New York for 40 years. Our New York City injury attorneys can help you hold the negligent party liable and recover the compensation you deserve.

If you were injured in a car crash due to someone else’s negligence, call us at (855) TOP-FIRM or fill out a form online for a free consultation now.


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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.