Accidents

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Stomach Pain After a Car Accident

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A man bandaging his stomach with gauze after an abdominal injury in a car accident.

Broken bones, head trauma, and whiplash aren’t the only types of injuries you can get from a car crash. Serious injuries to your abdomen that often take time to surface in the form of stomach pain can occur as well.

Abdominal pain after a car accident is primarily the result of blunt abdominal trauma combined with abnormal tension exerted on the abdomen. While symptoms may take hours or even days to present, they may be indicative of serious injuries including:

  • Organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Seat belt syndrome

In this article, we will detail the primary causes of stomach pain following an auto accident, and the symptoms that a car accident victim may experience.

Regardless of how you may feel after a car accident, you should seek medical attention from a doctor and contact a personal injury lawyer to assess the damages incurred by your collision.

Most Common Causes of Stomach Pain After a Car Accident

While seatbelts and airbags save countless lives, they cannot mitigate all injuries. Often, stomach pain after a car accident results from blunt abdominal trauma from your seatbelt or airbag.

Additionally, we often tense our whole bodies in a collision. It can take days for this tension to release. In the meantime, our stomachs can struggle to cope with the prolonged pressure leading to a host of issues.

A man buckling his seatbelt after getting into his car.

Stomach Pain After a Car Accident Could Be a Sign of the Following Injuries

If you begin experiencing stomach pain after a car accident, there are important reasons to pay attention to it. It could be a sign of one of the following serious conditions.

Seat Belt Syndrome

Arguably the most common delayed symptom you may experience after a car accident is seat belt syndrome. This abdominal injury is caused by the incredible force your seat belt puts on your chest and stomach during the crash. The delayed reaction to the impact of a car accident can lead to stomach pain.

Seat belt syndrome can cause many injuries. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, the force applied by your seatbelt to stop you is equivalent to about 4,800 pounds, or nearly 2-½ tons. That sudden pressure can have a significantly damaging impact on your internal organs.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is caused by the force of impact on your major blood vessels. Thousands of pounds of pressure suddenly hitting these delicate blood vessels can cause them to rupture, leading to bleeding within your body.

A significant concern with internal bleeding is the chance of systemic infection due to the deluge of blood where it shouldn’t be. This is why it is so important to catch internal injuries like this early.

Organ Damage

Within your abdomen sit some of your most important organs, including your spleen, liver, and kidneys. When abdominal organs are injured, especially if they are completely ruptured, they bleed a significant amount. Organ injuries and ruptures can often happen after an auto accident.

Additionally, your organs can empty their contents within your abdominal cavity when they burst. For example, if your bowel ruptures during a car crash, it could begin releasing its contents into the rest of your body resulting in infection and possibly death.

Organ damage is life-threatening. Any damage to your organs could impair their ability to keep you alive. Following a car accident, the chance of hemorrhage or systemic infection is high, so you should always be thoroughly examined by a doctor.

Common organ damage includes:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Peritonitis
  • Liver damage
  • Tears in the abdominal muscles
  • Ruptured spleen
  • Traumatic appendicitis
  • Kidney trauma

Consulting a doctor after a car accident is particularly important for children. Children lack the body fat and developed abdominal muscles that adults have, making them more susceptible to internal bleeding and organ damage due to the impact of a car accident. You should check your child for stomach pain, distention, and abdominal swelling.

Shock

While most people experience emotional shock after a car crash, the more severe form of shock is the life-threatening physical condition that happens when you don’t have enough blood flowing through your body.

After a car accident, there are several reasons you could go into shock. The most common inlcude:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal injuries
  • Heavy bleeding
A man bandaging his stomach with gauze after an abdominal injury in a car accident.

How Long Can Abdominal Injuries Take to Appear Following a Car Accident?

Whereas outward injuries like lacerations will be visible immediately following an auto accident, internal abdominal injuries may take some time to present.

Abdominal injuries are often part of delayed-onset injuries. These are injuries that present hours, days, or even weeks after the event. This doesn’t mean that these injuries aren’t related to your car accident — in fact, the collision likely caused your abdominal injuries.

The body has several ways to protect itself from trauma, including pumping the body with adrenaline and going into shock. This means that your injuries are present from the time of the accident, but you won’t necessarily feel them until the body releases these coping mechanisms.

An exact time frame for symptoms to present is difficult to provide. If you are experiencing abdominal pain or injuries a few weeks after your accident, you should not neglect your health concerns

How to Recognize the Signs of Abdominal Trauma

Many of the signs of abdominal trauma may seem obvious, but there are many symptoms that you may not connect with your recent collision.

Symptoms of Internal Bleeding

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Vision loss
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Rectal bleeding

Symptoms of Organ Damage

  • Bruised stomach
  • Feeling sick or unwell
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating

Symptoms of Shock

  • Excessive sweating
  • High pulse rate
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Pallor
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Can You Sue for Stomach Pain or Diarrhea After a Car Accident?

If you experience abdominal pain after a car accident, you may be able to take legal action. If the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages and injuries sustained in the accident.

Contacting your insurance agency may seem like the logical first step, but this can begin a lengthy and complicated process that, in your current condition, you may not be equipped to handle.

Medical bills can pile up quickly, especially if your injuries are serious. You may require expensive medications or rehabilitation programs to heal. You can lose days or even weeks of work as a result of your injuries and healing process. This is not a situation you should take lightly.

A car accident lawyer is your ideal go-between after suffering injuries in a car accident and will advocate for your rights and fight for any compensation you may be owed.

West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Tim Miley

Why You Should Consult with an Injury Attorney after an Accident

Abdominal injuries resulting from a car accident can lead to grave issues. In addition to the physical injuries, car accident victims suffer from emotional trauma, expensive medical bills, and lost wages. These stressors make the entire affair difficult to handle.

Contacting a personal injury attorney should be a top priority following a car accident. An attorney will handle all of the paperwork and legwork so that you can focus on the most important thing, healing from your accident.

Our personal injury lawyers at The Miley Legal Group have experience with these types of cases. Our law firm will handle the insurance companies and fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.

Contact us today to take the first step in your recovery with a free consultation.

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Written by
Tim Miley
Tim Miley is the founder of The Miley Legal Group. After earning his undergraduate degree in finance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, Tim attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, where he received his Juris Doctorate. Tim is admitted to practice in all courts in West Virginia and is currently a member of the American Association for Justice, the West Virginia American Association for Justice, the West Virginia Bar Association and the Harrison County Bar Association.
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