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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

How Long Should You Be Sore After a Car Accident?

Car accidents can have just minor injuries, but they can still have a person experience pain. So what should you expect physically after a car accident? Most people expect soreness for a few days after an accident. This can happen even if no severe injuries were suffered, and the emergency room isn't necessary.

When the soreness and pain appear, though, it needs to go away as soon as possible. How long might someone suffer from soreness after a car accident? Ultimately, when should recovery be in sight, and regular activities can be done again? The answer is based on each person's injuries and needs. It's best to go to a doctor to get checked out after a car accident.

The person could feel soreness and pain for up to six weeks, even if the car accident was minor, such as a rear-end or a fender bender. If it is more severe, it might be best to call a car accident lawyer to set up a personal injury claim. In most cases, the right law firm helps people get on the road to recovery.

Average recovery time by injury

Average Recovery Time

How long should you be sore after a car accident? If it was a minor car accident, it's possible to feel minor soreness for a few weeks. If the person knew the accident was coming, they could have tensed up, though. This can cause trauma to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Most car accident victims struggle for about six or more weeks after the car accident. These injuries can occur:


Whiplash happens most frequently after being rear-ended, and whiplash can hit a day or two after the accident. If there are whiplash symptoms, plan to experience soreness in the arms, shoulder, neck, and back. Typically, victims of whiplash experience tingling or muscle weakness in the neck and arms right after the accident. Others notice tension headaches when recovering from whiplash. Most of the time, these symptoms resolve within a few weeks. Though it can take time for whiplash to come about, the symptoms can come on right away after an accident. If the head hurts and whiplash might be to blame, get medical treatment soon. Don't avoid getting treated because of the bills because medical bills can be part of the overall compensation. Read more of our blogs to figure out what happens to your bills in a multiple car pile-up.

Muscle Soreness

A person may feel sore after a car accident. Muscle soreness often happens because the person tenses during the car accident. It can also occur when the person crashes into the seatbelt or gets thrown around inside the car. Typically, muscle soreness occurs in the neck, backs, arms, and abdomen. Just like whiplash, the symptoms for sore muscles resolve within six weeks. There should be a significant decrease in the pain and suffering felt within a few days of the accident. However, if there is a sharp and stabbing pain in the neck, consider visiting a doctor.


In a car accident, bruising is highly likely. Most victims have impressive bruising from the airbags, seatbelts, and items within the car. It's also possible to have bruises on the face, limbs, and torso. Typically, these injuries are slow to heal, though deep bruises can take even longer. In general, those areas are firm to the touch and produce pain when touched.

Sprains and Strains

A car accident can also cause sprains and strains, called soft tissue injuries. In a motor vehicle accident, the driver typically experiences more injuries to the arms and hands because of how they hold the steering wheel. Other passengers may experience tendon or ligament damage to the limbs.

More Severe Injuries

If a person experiences serious injuries, this might lead to spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injuries. Typically, neck pain is a sure sign of something wrong after an accident.

Broken bones are also a problem, and if the neck is broken, a cast may need to be used for up to eight weeks. Generally, these severe injuries may require surgery, so the recovery countdown takes a lot longer. On top of that, spinal cord injuries or a traumatic brain injury may follow with the person forever. A new normal way of life must happen, and the right lawyer or firm can help people get restitution for spinal cord damage and other serious injuries.

When to Go to the Doctor Again

Most people see a doctor right after a car accident. However, some people avoid the medical treatment trip because they're worried about the cost. Others don't feel that their injuries are serious enough to seek medical attention. Regardless, it is best to get medical attention to know if physical therapy is necessary.

If a regular physician isn't available for treatment chiropractic care therapy might be another avenue of support. It can help with back pain and get the person feeling better sooner.

Ultimately, the first step is to reduce pain. From there, physical therapy and other options can be used to get back to before-accident activities. It's important to seek treatment immediately if any of these are an issue:

Symptoms Listed in Paperwork from the Physician

After leaving the emergency room after an accident, it's normal to get paperwork describing the symptoms to watch out for. These require more medical attention, especially after a traumatic brain injury. It's best to pay attention to these symptoms and if such an injury occurs, go to the hospital again immediately.

Car accidents are damaging to everyone involved and can cause serious pain and problems. Don't hesitate because of the cost or fear.

Follow-up Appointment

Many injuries, such as chest contusions, broken bones, and sprains require follow-up doctor visits. Don't miss these appointments, especially if a firm is handling the personal injury claim. Appropriate documentation is required. However, the person's recovery also plays a part, and it's easier to recover fully from an accident when the right treatments are provided.

Notice Signs of Disorientation or Confusion

Even if a person doesn't have a severe injury diagnosis from the hospital, disorientation and confusion can set in. These symptoms indicate that there may be a traumatic injury to the brain. If these symptoms come on or become worse, seek medical attention from a doctor or hospital.

Pain Doesn't Go Away in Six Weeks

Minor stiffness and soreness are normal after an accident, even if there weren't serious injuries. However, if the pain doesn't vacate the body within a few weeks or becomes more serious, visit a doctor to get checked out.

Pain That Doesn't Start Getting Better in a Week

Soreness after a car accident is normal, and it can linger. To experience pain that doesn't get better within a week or so means a trip to a doctor. These injuries should be checked out as soon as possible. Don't suffer from pain that could be treated.

Have Shortness of Breath

If a person gets short of breath when performing regular activities, this is serious. Chest contusions cause damage to the lungs and heart. On top of that, broken ribs can easily puncture a lung. Don't wait to get treatment; prevent more damage to the body. There may be no pain, but it's important to be cautious and careful.

Dizziness or Nausea Appears

Typically, dizziness and nausea do not cause pain. However, a person might notice these signs after standing for long periods or when they stand up fast. Though this might be normal, seek treatment if it worsens.

Have More Questions

A person is not required to go to a physician immediately after an accident if there is no pain. However, over time, there might be questions that pop up about the recovery process. Some people are in too much pain and don't think clearly in the emergency room. Head trauma does this. Call a doctor to have questions answered when they come up.

Can't Sleep at Night

After a car accident, disturbed sleep is a possibility. The person may be in a lot of pain or may have emotional and mental trauma. If it's impossible to stay or fall asleep, contact a medical professional and find out what treatment options are available.

What if injuries come up later?

What Happens if Injuries Pop Up Long After the Accident

Some victims don't have injury signs immediately afterward but have pain and suffering later. Whether minor or serious, treatment is necessary to recover. Sometimes, the full extent of the injury isn't known until a day or two afterward.

Document the Injuries

Make sure that the injuries and pain are documented.

Contact a Doctor When These Severe Injury Signs Start

If the injuries seem worse than they should, visit a medical professional to have X-rays and other treatment options. Pain relief is the first step, and then long-term treatments are focused on.

Contact the Auto Insurance Company

Call the car insurance company immediately to file a claim, especially if the vehicle was totaled.

Amend the Accident Claim

If the claim was already filed, it's free to amend it. People may include the injuries and pain at the start. Insurance is there for this purpose, and it's free to set up a claim.

Call an Attorney

After a car accident, request a free consultation from an accident attorney. A personal injury claim should be handled by the firm. That way, any pain is compensated for.

Consider the free consultation from a reputable accident attorney. A car accident lawyer can help here.

Final Thoughts

Contact a local law firm by phone or live chat to help with a personal injury claim. Though most people expect to feel sore, an attorney can offer a free consultation to see if there's a case. Soreness is normal, but chronic pain is a possibility. An attorney makes sure that the people responsible are brought to justice.


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