A rear-end collision is something you walk away from, right? Your rear bumper, taillight and trunk all suffer damage, but you feel fine.
You exchange insurance information with the other driver and wait for the police to come and write up a report. You just want to be on your way. It is only later that afternoon that the first headache strikes.
A little background
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 28% of all traffic accidents in the U.S. are rear-end collisions. Distracted driving is a major cause and despite what you may think, major injuries can result. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that roughly 2 million Americans experience traumatic brain injury every year and vehicle accidents account for 14.3% of such injuries. That equates to 286,000 crash-related TBIs annually.
There are two types of traumatic brain injuries: open, where an object breaks through the skull and enters the brain; and closed, the most common form, which results from a blow to the head. For instance, the impact from a rear-end collision may cause your head to strike the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield, resulting in closed TBI. Even a collision that happens at a very low speed could be enough to cause mild brain trauma, which can leave you with long-term thinking and memory issues.
Delayed symptoms are common with TBI. You might feel fine right after the collision because the symptoms of a head injury may not appear for hours if not days. In addition to possible headaches, you could experience dizziness, unusual drowsiness, disorientation, blurred vision, a sensitivity to noise or light and even uncharacteristic mood swings.
What to do
If you are the victim of a rear-end collision, do not hesitate to see a doctor promptly, even if you feel OK. Head injuries can have lasting effects. However, the sooner your doctor diagnoses it, the better chance you have for effective treatment. In addition, a medical report will tie any injuries you may have directly to the car accident. Along with the police report, it will provide essential information on your behalf if an insurance dispute or subsequent lawsuit develops over your claim for compensation.