Perhaps you are waiting for the light to change when another driver plows into the back of your car. The rear-end collision happens at low speed, but you still suffer quite a jolt.

Apparently, you are uninjured. You check on the damage to your car, exchange insurance information with the other driver and consider heading on home—but should you stop to see a doctor on the way?

First signs

Immediately after the accident, you undoubtedly feel stunned, possibly disoriented and anxious. In the chaotic atmosphere of a car crash, even a minor one, it is sometimes hard to notice physical damage, which may present no outward signs. However, a headache, dizziness or back pain may be among the initial indicators of unseen issues that require medical care.

Delayed symptoms

If the accident does not leave you with a headache right away, that sort of pain may turn up hours or even days after the collision. You might also develop a stiff neck, the classic sign of whiplash. This could indicate a more serious medical issue, and a doctor might order a CT scan or MRI to see what is really going on. Delayed back pain is a common result of a car accident and could mean injury to the ligaments, muscles or nerves in the back or possible damage to the vertebrae. Any kind of confusion, balance problems, trouble with memory or thinking, a change in your sleeping pattern or a change in your personality might indicate a traumatic brain injury.

Unusual results

Most car-crash victims do not realize that post-traumatic stress disorder is a common result of the ordeal. PTSD can cause flashbacks and nightmares, especially among children. In addition, abdominal pain is something an accident victim should take seriously since it could signal internal bleeding. Large areas of bruising can develop, especially where the seat belt crosses the body.

Next steps

When you consider how stealthy the development of symptoms may be, the more logical it becomes to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible after even a minor collision. As the victim of the crash, you will also want to provide your attorney with a copy of the medical report. This will be an essential part of your case when the time comes to file a claim for insurance compensation.