Car accidents and other personal injury scenarios can be traumatic events that cause a lasting impact on a person physically and emotionally. But beyond the immediate injuries suffered in a car crash or other accidents like a slip and fall, there’s another hidden danger that often goes unnoticed or unaccounted for—the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions.

For those who already live with certain health issues, an accident can trigger a “domino effect” that has the potential to make their situation even more challenging from both a medical and legal perspective. But that doesn’t mean your pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be taken into consideration when it comes to being compensated after the accident.

How a Crash Can Impact Pre-Existing Conditions

When you have an injury that hasn’t yet healed, or a condition that may be permanent, another injury suffered on top of it can make it that much worse. One of the most common pre-existing conditions that can be exacerbated by a car accident is back problems. Whether it’s chronic lower back pain, scoliosis, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis, the force of a collision can intensify these issues, causing them to flare up or become worse than they already were.

But the same can be said of nearly any kind of condition or injury—if the accident damages your body or causes it to move in a way that directly impacts the pre-existing injury, you may walk away from that accident with injuries or other side effects that are worse than they would have been if you were a completely healthy individual prior to the accident. And in that case, you could find yourself facing a more prolonged and arduous road to recovery than anticipated.

Some other pre-existing conditions that we often see made worse or flare up after an accident are:

  • Arthritis or joint conditions that can experience heightened pain and inflammation when additional force is exerted on the joints during a crash.
  • Heart conditions, as car accidents are highly stressful events, and this stress can have a significant impact on individuals with cardiovascular issues, often due to the adrenaline surge of an accident.
  • Neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, can be triggered by a car accident, in which case the effects of that particular episode can cause further injury or damage to the individual, or even make the condition itself worse long-term.

What Secondary Injuries Can Look Like

Sometimes the domino effect may not make itself known to the victim until much later after the accident. It could be that the adrenaline of the situation kept those effects at bay for some time, or that the exacerbation took some time to reach a level that could be noticed. This is especially true when it comes to brain injuries, as their effects don’t always immediately present themselves.

It’s also possible for an injury suffered in a car accident to lead to or turn into an entirely new injury or condition down the road. For example, if you’re involved in an accident that injures your neck, you may have that injury itself directly treated so your neck can successfully heal. But several months later, you may develop chronic lower back pain that doctors discover is linked to a damaged nerve from your neck injury. That would be a secondary injury that it’s possible to relate back to your accident.

Mental health conditions can also be created by car accidents. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder may develop, affecting the overall well-being of an accident victim. The emotional toll of a car crash can linger long after the physical injuries have healed, requiring comprehensive mental health support for those grappling with both pre-existing conditions as well as those who may be experiencing them for the first time after an accident.

Don’t Ignore the Domino Effect

While a car accident can’t be a catch-all for all the injuries or ailments you might suffer during the rest of your life, you should always err on the side of caution and get yourself checked out if you’re feeling unexpected side effects after being involved in a car crash. Even if you don’t understand how the new condition could possibly be linked to your original injuries, bring it up with your doctor. They’ll be able to best determine exactly what’s going on.

If you’re still feeling doubt about secondary pain or injury and aren’t sure how it might relate to your personal injury case, try thinking of it this way: Even if you weren’t involved in an accident, and your back started experiencing chronic pain, chances are you would bring that pain to your doctor’s attention, even if you had no idea what might have suddenly caused it. So when you’ve been involved in an accident, you should operate under the assumption that you have even more reason to bring seemingly unrelated ailments to a doctor’s attention, and do so. Don’t let your fear of the unknown or your skepticism about how it might relate to your case keep you from getting the medical care you need.

The domino effect of exacerbating health issues underscores the need for comprehensive medical care and support post-accident. It’s so important to inform your healthcare providers of any pre-existing conditions after an accident, prioritize seeking immediate medical attention when something new does arise, and always collaborate with the medical specialists helping you navigate your recovery. Ultimately, seeking proactive care is crucial for not only mitigating the long-term effects of car accident injuries, but also making sure you receive the full compensation amount you’re entitled to.

Posted Under: Personal Injury

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