What Are the Symptoms of Shock After a Serious Car Accident?

Car accidents can leave their victims with serious and even life-threatening injuries. When people talk about car accident injuries, they are usually talking about injuries that are visible, like broken bones, cuts, and bruises. However, one of the most severe but less acknowledged car accident injuries is shock, a serious condition that can arise after a vehicle accident. After a traumatic event, a victim’s body can sometimes go into shock. This occurs when blood pressure drops because the flow of blood is being conserved for vital organs. If left untreated, however, traumatic shock can become extremely dangerous. If you experienced delayed shock after a car accident, contact the Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free consultation. 

What Types of Physical Shock Can Be Experienced By Car Accident Victims?

Shock is defined by The Mayo Clinic as “a critical condition brought on by the sudden drop in blood flow through the body.” So, if you endured a traumatic physical injury or experienced heavy blood loss, entering a state of shock is a strong possibility. There are multiple kinds of shock, such as:


Cardiogenic shock is a serious condition in which the victim’s heart is not able to pump a sufficient amount of blood to the other parts of their body, meaning their organs and brain are not receiving enough oxygenated blood to survive. Although it is quite rare, the survival rate is only about 50%.   


Hypovolemic shock can set in when a victim loses large amounts of blood or other bodily fluids in a short period. Again, this reduction in blood volume means that not enough blood is moving throughout the body. This condition can be dangerous because the victim’s body may have difficulties regulating its temperature, preventing the formation of blood clots, and even delivering vital nutrients to cells.  


Neurogenic shock most often occurs when a victim has a catastrophic injury, like spinal cord damage, which stops the flow of oxygen to their organs. If left untreated, it can be fatal.


When a victim goes into obstructive shock, it means something is obstructing the flow of blood to and from the major blood vessels or the heart. This is most commonly caused by a blood clot or collapsed lung. Victims experiencing obstructive shock require immediate medical treatment to avoid additional, potentially fatal complications. Obstructive shock is the least common form, accounting for only 2% of all cases. It also has a higher survival rate. 

What Are the Symptoms of Shock?

It is normal for car accident victims to feel anxious and confused; they have just been through a traumatic and frightening event. Despite this, you should never assume that your symptoms do not have a physical cause. Following an accident, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment so that any internal injuries can be ruled out. Although each person responds to trauma differently, some common symptoms of shock include:

  • Skin that is cold or clammy 
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Grey or blue fingertips
  • Breathing rapidly or difficulty catching your breath
  • Muscle weakness
  • Feelings of extreme fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Feelings of irritability or anxiousness

If you do not accept an ambulance ride from the scene of the crash, you should get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Even if you think you are unharmed, you could have invisible injuries that, in addition to being serious themselves, could also cause you to go into shock.  

Can Post-Accident Shock Be Delayed?

Yes, shock can be delayed after a car accident. This usually occurs with psychological shock, meaning that the psychological impacts of the accident were not immediate in their onset. If a few days or even a week or two passes between your accident and the time you begin experiencing certain mental health issues, it could be a delayed version of this condition. Some common symptoms of delayed shock are chronic headaches, digestive issues, amaxophobia, and insomnia.  

If, however, you begin noticing symptoms similar to those associated with one of the forms of physical shock mentioned above, this may be due to the worsening of an undiagnosed injury that needs immediate treatment. For instance, if you sustained a neck or head injury that is partially blocking the flow of blood to your brain, you could experience delayed neurogenic shock.  

All We Do Is Injury Law

The Virginia Beach car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been helping injured car accident victims gather evidence and build strong cases for maximum financial recoveries since 1985, such as the $1 million settlement we obtained for a client who was forced off the roadway by another driver, leaving her permanently disabled.  

If you experienced delayed shock or any other form of physical injury caused by a negligent driver, schedule a free consultation by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out the contact form on our website. To better serve our clients, we have offices in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.