What Are the Symptoms of Shock After an Accident?

Man calling with phone to his insurance agent after traffic accident with a background of the crashed car
Posted: December 18, 2023

Some people view their daily drive home as therapeutic: a nice way to unwind after a stressful day. Others resent the commute, just looking to get home as soon as possible.  

Regardless of the driver’s mindset, a New York car crash can be jarring. One second you are navigating along to a familiar destination, the next you are on the side of the road with a headache, surrounded by mangled steel.  

Everyone is unique, and some people may handle a stressful situation differently than others, but researchers have discovered that most people experience a “fight-or-flight response” in a stressful situation, of which a motor vehicle collision qualifies.  

This is an automatic, physiological (meaning, relating to the body) reaction to a potentially harmful situation that humans have developed over time to respond and protect themselves from harm and stay alive. Regardless of whether the threat was posed by a saber-toothed tiger or fellow homo sapiens, rapid hormone changes and adjustments in the nervous system helped to increase physical capabilities and improve the chance of survival.  

Saber-toothed tigers are long extinct, but the fight-or-flight response lives on. People involved in traumatic events such as a car crash will generally feel a surge of adrenaline that can include increased heart and respiratory rates and muscle contractions. These hormonal changes can help someone who is injured and in pain function at their best despite being under considerable stress. This helps to explain why some people experience a delayed onset of pain that is not fully apparent at the scene of the crash. Pain symptoms can be temporarily reduced or masked entirely.  

Those seriously injured in a New York car crash may also experience psychological or emotional injuries associated with the shock of the crash itself. This often manifests itself in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). Symptoms can include anxiety about driving, intrusive thoughts relating to driving, nightmares, and/or avoidance of people or things associated with the car wreck. The American Psychological Association recently found that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of PTSD. This sort of delayed shock after an accident happens often.  

New York courts have recognized that someone who experiences a psychological or emotion injury like PTSD may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, regardless of whether the condition is accompanied with a physical ailment, like a herniated or bulging disc of the spine.  

Everyone’s response to a motor vehicle crash will be somewhat different. Sometimes the trauma of the crash will linger because of uncertainty about what to do next. A flood of insurance paperwork starts to arrive in the mail and different insurance adjusters call daily. Activities of daily living are painful and difficult, and you may not be ready to return to work. This might seem overwhelming, especially after the adrenaline has subsided. 

The experienced personal injuries lawyers at William Mattar, P.C. have the knowledge and experience to help those seriously injured in a New York car crash. Sometimes the extent of a physical injury is not always readily apparent. And other times the injury—non-physical and purely psychological—may be unknowable without proper care and treatment. No matter the case, the attorney at William Mattar, P.C. would be honored to review the circumstances of your case to see if they can help. 

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