Abdominal pain after a car accident
Critical information about abdominal trauma & what to do next
Pain after a car accident / Abdominal
After an auto accident, adrenaline courses through your body. One side effect of this is that internal injuries often go unnoticed until later. These are known as delayed-pain injuries, and they can be life threatening.
Even though you may not have any outwardly visible signs of injury in your abdominal region, and only mild pain, you could very well have internal bleeding or organ damage. If you notice even the slightest pain in your abdomen in the hours and days following a rear-end collision or any type of auto accident, you need to get it checked out by a doctor—sooner rather than later.
Why does my stomach hurt after a car accident?
Even minor auto accidents can take a toll on the human body. Just the emotional stress of being in an accident and dealing with the aftermath is enough to bring on stomach pain. However, there’s a very real potential for abdominal pain being a sign of something far more serious than just being stressed out.
The force of being flung forward in an accident and having your seat belt dig into the soft tissue of your abdominal region can rupture blood vessels in the stomach, causing bruising and swelling. Worse, it can cause organs to rupture and bleed into your abdominal cavity, causing abdominal pain and swelling. Without timely treatment, abdominal injuries can cause death from internal bleeding or systemic infection.
Don’t let the insurance company rush you into anything
Since you may not have any symptoms right after the accident, don’t dismiss any that show up a day or two later. See a doctor to get your symptoms checked out. Whatever you do, don’t sign any paperwork that asks you to state you have no injuries from the accident, or a release in any form. Get diagnosed by a physician first and foremost. If you’ve been injured by the accident, your next move should be finding an experienced personal injury attorney. Even if you decide not to hire a lawyer, during your free consult you can learn valuable insights on filing a car accident lawsuit in Wisconsin.
Shock after a car accident
Many people think of shock as meaning “stunned disbelief” about something that just happened. While this type of emotional shock is certainly part of the shock experienced by auto accident victims, there’s much more to it.
What causes shock after an accident?
Shock is actually a life-threatening physical condition that occurs when there is an inadequate flow of blood. The broken bones, spinal injuries and heavy bleeding caused by auto accidents are common causes of going into shock.
Common symptoms of post-accident shock:
- Profuse sweating
- Elevated pulse
- Cold, clammy skin
- Enlarged pupils
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Anxiety or agitation
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms of shock after an accident, get checked over by a doctor ASAP. There may be an underlying internal injury causing you to go into shock, and only a doctor will be able to accurately diagnose the full extent of your injury.
Recognize the signs and symptoms of abdominal trauma
Abdominal trauma is one of the most common injuries in auto accidents due to compression of the abdomen against the lap restraint. It’s not an injury to be dismissed lightly. What seems like just soreness or a pain in your stomach can actually be a sign of a serious internal injury. Car accidents often cause internal organs to rupture and bleed internally. If you experience any of the signs and symptoms below, do not hesitate to have a doctor check you over.
Signs and symptoms of abdominal trauma:
- Bruising/cuts on abdomen where the lap belt would rest
- Stomach/pelvic region pain
- Tenderness and/or swelling in abdominal region
- Blood in urine or stool
- Rigidity in abdominal tissues
- Air or gas in abdominal cavity
- Abdominal distension
Children have a greater risk for abdominal injuries because abdominal muscles aren't fully developed, and they have less abdominal fat compared to adults. If your child complains of stomach pain following an accident, consult a physician right away.
Seat belt injuries
While seat belts have done a great job of reducing the severity of head and chest injuries sustained in auto accidents, they’re a common cause of abdominal injuries. In collision accidents, the lap belt part of the seat belt presses hard enough against the abdomen to cause bruising, lacerations, and even ruptures of internal organs. Children are particularly at risk due to their smaller size.
What is seat belt syndrome?
The medical profession is so attuned to the injuries caused by seat belts they have a catch-all term for them: “seat belt syndrome.” The injuries are caused by the hyperflexion of the spine around the lap belt when a vehicle comes to abrupt stop in an accident. Seat belt syndrome encompasses “seat belt sign” injuries (those that leave marks from the seat belt on the body), as well as internal organ injuries, vertebral fractures and injury to the chest, ribs, neck and shoulder. It is most commonly associated with lumbar spine fractures and bowel perforation.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause internal bleeding
In an accident, the sudden deceleration of a moving vehicle causes the body to move violently forward against the lap restraint of a seat belt. The force of this impact is enough to cause internal organs and major blood vessels like the aorta and vena cava to be cut or torn.
Abdominal organs bleed profusely when ruptured, and gastrointestinal organs like the bowel can empty their contents into the abdominal cavity. These are life-threatening injuries, and the hemorrhaging and systemic infection they cause are the most common causes of death from abdominal trauma.
What are the signs and symptoms of internal bleeding?
Unfortunately, the extent of the injury may not be readily apparent in the first few hours after an accident. It’s important to know the symptoms so they’re not dismissed.
Symptoms of internal bleeding include:
- Stiffness in neck
- Vision loss
- Lightheaded sensation and/or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Blood in stool or urine
- Rectal bleeding
If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor promptly. Don’t just wait and hope it gets better, because it will only get worse. Much worse.
Delayed stomach pain after a car accident
After a car accident, the full extent of your injuries is rarely ever apparent. Often, abdominal pain doesn’t start until hours after the accident, sometimes days. By then, the injury may have worsened to the point it becomes life threatening. For this reason, it’s critical to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident, even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously injured.
Not every ache and pain you experience after an accident is life threatening, of course, but abdominal pain that starts after an accident isn’t something to brush off lightly. Delayed abdominal pain is typically a symptom of internal bleeding caused by ruptured or torn organs. Over time the loss of blood starts to strain your circulatory system and you feel weak, short of breath, and nauseous. Without prompt treatment, those damaged organs will fail and cause a slow and painful death.
NEVER ignore abdominal pain or discomfort – even if it appears days later
Even in cases where an organ is only bleeding a little, the loss of blood in your circulatory system can put your body into shock. If you lose consciousness, you can bleed to death. Internal bleeding can also cause an infection. If it’s not caught early, the infection can enter your bloodstream and infect other organs—including your brain. By this point, it may be too late for any treatment to work.
If you’ve been in an accident, don’t take the “wait and see” approach. See a doctor—even if you think there’s nothing wrong. The risks of waiting are just too high.
You deserve to be compensated for your medical costs
Don’t let fear of medical costs keep you from getting the treatment you need. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file a claim for financial compensation.
Steve Caya has decades of experience helping injured victims understand their rights and secure the compensation they deserve, including:
Timing is crucial in the minutes, hours and days after an accident. The two most important things accident victims MUST do are:
- Seek professional medical treatment for any injuries or symptoms
- Consult a personal injury attorney
There are several Wisconsin car accident laws it's important to know before making an injury claim. During your free consultation you’ll find out whether you can sue (and who pays), how much your claim is worth, and what to do next to build the strongest possible case.
August 21, 2019
Steve and his staff are amazing! They are very friendly yet professional. They really helped me in a time of need and thoroughly explained everything throughout the entire process. I would highly recommend him!
How do you know if you've damaged your organs in a car accident?
The physical trauma of an auto accident has the potential to seriously damage any internal organ, but these are the types of organ damage that most often occur due to auto accidents:
Small bowel obstruction is a blockage in the small intestine. This is a fairly common problem after the blunt trauma of an auto accident, due to the abdominal region impacting the lap restraint of a seat belt. Typical symptoms are abdominal pain and swelling, constipation, vomiting, and dehydration.
Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the silk-like membrane lining the abdominal wall and covering the organs inside. The rupture of an abdominal organ, compounded by a bacterial infection via the blood, are typical causes or peritonitis.
The blunt force trauma of an auto accident is an infrequent, but well documented cause of traumatic appendicitis. Also known as seat belt compression appendicitis, it is caused by the impact of a lap restraint against the abdomen. Common symptoms are abdominal pain and swelling.
Traumatic compression of the abdominal region in an auto accident can cause laceration or rupture of the liver and bile ducts. Symptoms include abdominal tenderness and rigidity, weakness, pallor, restlessness, rapid pulse, and lowered blood pressure.
Car accidents are the leading cause of kidney damage. Located near the base of the ribs on either side of the lower back, the kidneys are particularly susceptible to injury from compression of the abdomen against the lap restraint. Symptoms include blood in the urine, pain and abdominal bruising.
Due to its relatively protected position in the body, pancreatic trauma from auto accidents is relatively rare. However, if not diagnosed early there is a high mortality rate. The most common symptom is severe peritoneal irritation, which rarely appears immediately after the accident.
Located just under the left side of the rib cage, the spleen is particularly susceptible to rupturing from the trauma of an auto accident. Symptoms include tenderness and pain in the upper left abdomen, pain in the left shoulder, confusion, and dizziness.
Can a car accident affect your period?
Yes. It is common for an auto accident to disrupt the menstrual cycle. It has been well documented that an accident can cause a period to be late by a month or more, suddenly stop after an accident, delay your next ovulation, or cause you to ovulate more than once before your next period.
The emotional stress and physical trauma of auto accidents are more than enough to disrupt the menstrual cycle, and may well be the body’s way of making your health a priority by setting the stage for you to focus on de-stressing and healing before the next cycle starts. If you have no reason to believe you are pregnant, chances are the disruption in your cycle is entirely due to the accident.
If your accident involved any kind of head injury, there may be more going on than just stress taking its toll. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - even a mild concussion - can also wreak havoc on the menstrual cycle.
5 Signs a missed period may be something serious:
- You have bruising from the seat belt in your abdominal region
- You have pain in your abdomen
- Your stomach or abdomen are swollen or hard to the touch
- You have difficulty urinating, or there is blood in your urine
- You have chronic diarrhea
Even if you think you weren’t injured in the accident, you should see a doctor right away to make sure there aren’t internal injuries—particularly if the accident involved any type of bump to your head.
Get compensated for abdominal injuries caused by an accident
The only thing worse than being injured in an auto accident is the stress and aggravation of dealing with insurance companies who lowball your settlement or make efforts to delay payment for one reason after another. You just want them to pay what you’re owed so you can get on with your life, but instead everything is in limbo. That’s where attorney Steve Caya can help.
Steve Caya knows all the ins and outs of the insurance claim process and will work diligently to get you just compensation for your medical expenses, as well as the pain and suffering they’ve caused and the wages you’ve lost from being unable to work after the accident. Steve works with a network of experts and will investigate every detail of your accident to build a strong case, including:
- Police reports
- Photos/video footage from the accident scene
- Interviews with passersby and other witnesses to the accident
The amount of your personal injury settlement depends more upon the quality of your legal representation than some dollar figure on an insurance company’s actuarial spreadsheet. As a former attorney for insurance companies, Steve Caya knows all the tricks insurance companies use to pay as little as possible, and he doesn’t let them get away with it. The sooner you get started, the greater the chance critical evidence can be documented and preserved to bolster your case. Our guide to personal injury lawsuits in Wisconsin provides useful insights accident victims should be aware of.
We’ll come to you anywhere in Wisconsin to discuss your case
Attorney Caya handles all personal injury cases on a no-win, no-fee basis and represents clients throughout the state of Wisconsin. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, take advantage of a free initial legal consultation to learn more about your options. If you’re unable to meet at the Janesville office, attorney Caya will come to you.
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