What Causes Stomach Pain After Car Accidents? (An Easy-to-Understand Guide)
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What Causes Stomach Pain After Car Accidents? (An Easy-to-Understand Guide)

Stomach pain after a car accident can be the result of internal injury or bleeding. Soft-tissue injuries in car accidents are the usual cause and can last for hours or days afterward. You should seek professional medical attention to ensure anything serious gets early as soon as possible.

Approximately 5% of serious injuries occurring during car accidents are abdominal according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Experiencing stomach pain after a car accident indicates you need emergency attention. Common causes of stomach pain after a car accident include internal bleeding, organ damage, blood vessel damage, organ rupture, or internal aggravation. If left untreated, these can cause long-term damage or death. If you have an injury to your stomach, abdominal area, or internal organs as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Bryant Law Center. We will provide you with sound legal advice on your options and help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your car accident injuries.

Man clicking seatbelt into place

Common Causes of Abdominal Pain After a Car Accident

The causes of your stomach and abdominal pain after an accident could be to a variety of reasons and some of them aren’t so obvious.

Injuries From Seat Belts or Airbags

Seat belts and airbags can cause chest pain and stomach pain after an accident if they are not fitted correctly to the driver’s body. The belt should be snug across your stomach and low on your hips or thighs, never across the stomach area. The same goes for airbags too.


It may come as a surprise but whiplash can cause stomach pain after an accident. Whiplash is a neck injury caused when your head snaps back and forth, side-to-side or front to back following a sudden impact.

While numbness, tingling sensations, headaches, concussions, and other head injuries, are the most common symptoms of whiplash, the jerking motion that occurs can also cause bruising and other damage to internal organs and blood vessels, including the stomach and intestines. Injuries to the intestines can lead to more complicated problems with digestion.

If you have stomach pain after an accident and whiplash, you may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Blunt Force Trauma

Blunt force trauma is an injury caused by a hard blow or force. While it’s most serious when it results in traumatic brain injury, it can also happen to the stomach when an object hits it and leaves no open wound or cut on the body – it may just leave bruises or blood vessels damaged in organs like the stomach and intestines.

Bowel obstructions, causing constipation and other issues (like blood in your stool), can occur from blunt force trauma.

A lot of chaos happens when two cars collide. It’s not uncommon for debris and other objects to fly around and hit things. If something hits your stomach and you’re experiencing pain after, this could be a sign of blunt force trauma.

Organ Compression

Organ compression is when the stomach or intestines are squished between two things; for example, during a motor vehicle accident. Organ compression can affect the kidneys, liver, bile ducts, and other organs in the abdomen. 

It can sometimes cause cuts (called lacerations) to your internal organs and internal bleeding.

Bruising on the Abdomen

A car accident can cause bruising to the abdomen from repeated collisions and impacts. A bruise is any damage to the soft tissue that causes bleeding under the skin, which means, by definition, you have ruptured blood vessels.


Bloating is a swelling of the stomach or abdomen. If you notice bloating after a car accident, it could be a sign of internal bleeding and other abdominal trauma caused by internal injuries, such as ruptured organs, which leads to the release of body fluids into your abdominal cavity.

If you’re experiencing bloating from a car crash, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms like nausea or vomiting can also indicate internal bleeding.

Diarrhea or Gastrointestinal Distress

It’s not uncommon to have diarrhea, gas, or other stomach symptoms after a car accident. You should still see a doctor and make sure it isn’t anything more serious though because these symptoms could indicate damage to the digestive tract.

Disrupted Period

The emotional stress and trauma from a car accident can throw women the menstrual cycle off. If your menstrual cycle is off after a car accident, you should speak with your physician to see if any underlying health issues from the car accident are the cause.

X-ray of human torso with stomach highlighted red

Types of Stomach Injuries Commonly Caused by Car Accidents

Symptoms are evidence of injury or illness. An injury, on the other hand, is the actual event that causes the symptoms to appear. There are several types of stomach injuries that can happen during an accident. They include:

Internal bruising. For example, to your abdominal muscles and internal organs.

Seat belt syndrome. Seat belt syndrome occurs from the pulling of a seat belt across internal organs, which may lead to a hernia. This can happen when your seat belt isn’t tight or you have something between you and your seat belt.

Whiplash. Whiplash is a type of injury that can occur when the head and neck are jolted forward and back or to one side. This causes injuries in the weakened cervical muscles, ligaments, joints, discs, or nerves. It can also cause stomach pain by:

  • Pulling away from other structures that attach your spine to your rib cage such as cartilage on your ribs near where they attach to your spine;  
  • Heaving stomach contents against the diaphragm muscle which also controls breathing (thus interfering with your ability to breathe); 
  • Uneven pressure on blood vessels pushing them against nearby organs.

Systemic Infection.  If enough damage is caused to your stomach to cause internal bleeding, sepsis can set in. 

Sepsis is a bloodstream infection. It can be life-threatening and is a common cause of death due to stomach injuries after auto accidents.

In a car accident, a tear in the intestinal wall can let bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to cause infection in other areas of the body, such as in the brain or lungs (called bloodstream sepsis or septicemia).

Peritonitis. Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, a membrane (like a sac) lining the abdominal wall.

Peritonitis can be a life-threatening condition that happens when bacteria from a tear in your GI tract happens.

Symptoms include things like:

  • Severe stomach pain that is worse when moving
  • Nausea or vomiting without fever
  • Possibly little to no bowel movement or the inability to fart or pass gas.
  • Swelling and bloating of the abdomen
  • Thirst 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension) & shock

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Start to Feel Pain?

Abdominal injuries may not start for days or even weeks following the crash, depending on what other parts of the body have been hurt and also how severe the injury is.

Delayed symptoms are not just limited to stomach pain either. You may experience delayed chest pain, hip pain, back pain, and more after a crash.

For example, in certain instances where internal bruising occurs to your abdomen muscles and internal organs (such as liver/kidneys), it can take about 1-2 weeks for these symptoms to show up afterward because they take time to develop while you recover on your own-though aspects such as eating habits post-crash could affect this timeline too.

However, injuries like bruising and bleeding will typically become apparent between 24-72 hours after the accident.

Suing for Stomach Pain Car Accident

If you experience any of the above or other pain in your stomach after a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and should hire a personal injury lawyer. Especially since medical insurance won’t always cover the total costs from your car accident.

In certain circumstances, you can sue the other driver for pain and suffering — for example, if it can be shown that they were grossly negligent in such a way to cause the accident in the first place. 

Insurance companies look out for themselves first. Be sure to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney before accepting any sort of offer from an insurance company. An injury attorney can help you navigate through the process and help negotiate a fair settlement for your injuries.

We Can Help

The attorneys at The Bryant Law Center have helped people just like you get the compensation they deserve after being injured. Contact us today for a free consultation to get answers and help!