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Between 20 and 50 million people per year suffer injuries as a result of car accidents.

Do you know what to expect physically after a car accident involving you or someone you know? This list will give you all the most common injuries resulting from a car accident and what the recovery process will be.

What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Even if you don’t think you have sustained an injury it is still advisable to visit your doctor. Some injuries, like whiplash, do not present until several hours or even days after the incident. The most serious cases can cause a concussion, which is dangerous if left untreated.

If you have been in a car accident, even if you don’t have any of the most common injuries on this list, be sure to visit your doctor or GP.


A car or road traffic accident is a traumatic event. Even non-serious collisions can cause a degree of mental and physical trauma. One of the first things that you can expect after a car accident is for your body to enter into a state of shock.

The severity of the shock will depend on the person, but you may find yourself unresponsive to external stimuli and unable to process the events occurring around you. If unresolved, usually with the help of a medical professional, this can develop into PTSD which can have a lasting effect on your mental and physical wellbeing.

Whiplash and Other Delayed-Onset Injuries

Serious injuries such as cuts, burns, and breaks will be felt immediately. If you are in shock, as we’ve mentioned, you should seek immediate medical attention as the shock itself can prevent your body from registering more serious injuries.

Once the initial shock of the incident has passed, however, you may find you begin to develop some physical symptoms that you did not have at the time of the accident. As we’ve mentioned, whiplash can present itself several hours or days after the initial accident, but this is not the only delayed-onset injury.

Do not ignore symptoms such as dizziness, back, neck or shoulder pain, numbness, delayed onset bruising or abdominal pain. These could be signs of a serious underlying injury. Visiting a doctor immediately can save you a lot of time and money further down the line.

Persistent/Long-Lasting Injuries

Some injuries, such as broken bones or serious muscle injuries, can require prolonged, on-going treatment to resolve. Protracted physical symptoms are not uncommon after a car accident.

A round of physical therapy after a car accident or several visits to the chiropractor may be required for you to regain full mobility. The number of sessions required will depend on the severity of the injury, but we would recommend waiting not longer than 72 hours before making a physical therapy appointment.

The Bottom Line

Now you know what to expect physically after a car accident. If you’ve been involved in a car accident then don’t wait. Call your doctor or GP and schedule an appointment right away to prevent injuries from worsening.

Have you or someone you know been injuries in an auto accident? Find out more about our great rehabilitation centers or get in touch with all your personal injury questions.