I’m a Little Banged Up, But Nothing Serious. Do I Really Need to See a Doctor?
While it may be tempting to avoid the cost and hassle of seeing a doctor after an accident when you don’t think you’re seriously hurt, this can be a big mistake. The truth is any car accident can be serious, even a low-speed collision, and the injuries may not be apparent for days. If you fail to seek prompt medical care, you may be weakening your case and making it more difficult to recover compensation.
The Importance of Medical Treatment
Your personal injury lawyer will undoubtedly encourage you to seek medical care right away and follow up on all appointments. There are two very good reasons to see a doctor after your accident, no matter how minor your injuries may seem: getting medical attention can reduce or prevent injuries and it will make it easier to connect the accident to your injuries.
You may also be more injured than you think for several reasons:
Soft tissue injuries can take days to develop symptoms. This is because an accident puts a great deal of stress on joints and other vulnerable areas which leads to pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. Sometimes it takes days for the swelling to reach the point of pain and obvious symptoms. Soft tissue injuries also rarely show up on any diagnostic tests which means they can be hard to document for your case. The faster you seek treatment, the easier it will be to show that your injuries are the result of the accident.
Brain injuries often do not show immediate symptoms. If you suffer a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to your body being jolted or something striking your head, initial symptoms may be subtle and hard for you to notice yourself. This includes sleep changes, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, nausea, and headache.
The physiological response of a crash can make your body produce high levels of adrenaline and endorphins that block you from feeling pain temporarily.
Where to Get Treated After an Accident
Depending on the severity of your apparent injuries, you should seek medical care right away at an emergency room, urgent care center, or your family doctor. For seemingly minor injuries, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor right away, even if you just have minor pain or you don’t even feel injured. If you have more obvious injuries, it may be more appropriate to visit an urgent care center or an emergency room.
Always seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a head injury, neck injury, or back injury, as all of these can have serious and life-changing consequences, especially if there is a delay in treatment.
If you have an urgent care in your area, there are benefits to choosing this type of treatment over an ER. An urgent care center will be staffed by ER doctors with a much shorter wait than the typical emergency room. You will still receive effective treatment but your bill will be lower. While your medical expenses will be paid by the at-fault party if your injury claim is successful, this is still important because hospitals often put medical liens on personal injury claims. In these cases, the lien will be paid before you when you receive the settlement and hospitals rarely offer discounts in personal injury cases. If you do visit an ER, experienced personal injury attorneys can advise you on how a medical lien will affect your settlement.
A Treatment Delay Can Hurt Your Case
If you delay medical attention, the insurance company will assume that you were not seriously injured, faking your injuries, or that your injuries are not related to the accident. In fact, how promptly you sought and received care is one of several criteria that adjusters consider when evaluating an injury claim. The longer you wait after an accident to see a doctor, the more likely the insurance company is to deny or limit your claim.
Your personal injury lawyer will encourage you to see a doctor right away, even if you do not think you were hurt badly, to strengthen your case and connect the injuries to the accident. After seeking prompt medical care, your next step should be consulting with skilled personal injury attorneys to begin gathering evidence, building your claim, and negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company.