When you’re involved in a car crash, your body is at the mercy of the forces colliding. You might be strapped in and have air bags deploy, but you’re still being thrown around and have little control over how your body is moved.

Many people feel fine after a serious crash, even though they have suffered injuries. This is because the body reacts to severe injuries and pain by releasing chemicals to mask the symptoms. Endocannabinoids and endorphins, for example, may be released to help you retain your mobility and to keep you aware of your surroundings. This is a part of the fight-or-flight system in the body, but it can be bad for you. It could mask symptoms of injuries that need treatment to prevent secondary injuries or complications.

Delayed-onset injuries can be dangerous, so you must seek medical care

Delayed-onset injuries can be dangerous to you, or they can come on as unusual pain and dysfunction days after a collision. For example, whiplash can begin 24 to 48 hours (or longer) after a crash, leading to neck stiffness, upper back pain, headaches and more. Some cases are severe and need medical intervention. Other potential delayed-onset injuries could be significant bruising, the recognition of broken bones or even delayed bleeding or clots.

If you are involved in a car crash, the best choice you can make is to seek medical care for yourself. Even if it’s disruptive to your day and you think you’re fine, having a clean bill of health is important. If you go and an injury is spotted early, then treatment could be easier than if you wait. After that, you can seek a claim against the at-fault driver to cover the costs of that medical care.