You were just involved in an auto accident and feel a little shaken up. Fortunately, you seemed to come through the event without any signs of injury. While it may be true that there are no major lacerations and you don’t feel dizzy, it’s a little too early to determine if you emerged from the accident with no physical damage. The best thing you can do is arrange to see a doctor in the 72 hours following the accident.
Where Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
Even if you seem to be fine, it still makes sense to see a medical professional as soon as possible. When the accident takes place during standard business hours, call your family doctor and explain what has happened. Find out if you can be worked in and examined that day. If not, it’s fine to seek medical attention at a local care center.
When you do feel a little unusual, go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. While it could be that you are momentarily disoriented by what just happened, it could also mean some internal injury is beginning to impact your ability to function. The staff at the emergency room will know what to look for, which tests to run, and how to prevent the issue from progressing.
Injuries Are Not Always Immediately Apparent
While at the site of the accident, you feel fine. There is no trouble walking, your mind is clear, and other than feeling a little sore around your neck and shoulders everything seems to be okay. Tomorrow could be a different story.
Not everyone realizes that the body releases chemicals designed to sustain a person immediately after an injury. Those chemicals help to lessen pain for a few hours. After that, that little bit of soreness in your neck may increase by a significant amount.
In the hours and days following the event, you may begin to notice changes in your cognition or your muscles. The stiffness spreads and increases to the point that it hurts to turn your head to the left or right. Perhaps a knee or an ankle begins to swell. Maybe you find that concentrating on tasks at work the following day is more difficult than usual.
What you could be experiencing is the manifestation of injuries that were not apparent at the time of the accident. Your best bet is to see a doctor and find out what is causing the discomfort or the difficulty concentrating before things get any worse.
Determining If There is a Direct Link
It’s easier to assess your situation and come to a conclusion about what role, if any, the accident plays in your current discomfort when you see a doctor shortly after the event took place. As more time passes, it’s easier for the insurance provider of the responsible party to claim that your aches and pains are related to something other than the accident itself.
When you see a doctor, outline the accident and what you experienced. Be specific about how much the impact threw you forward, if you banged your knee against the steering column, or if your head came in contact with anything as a result of the collision. Along with providing the medical professional with a better idea of what type of injuries to look for, you also make it easier to determine if your discomfort is because of the accident.
Medical Records and Pursuing a Settlement
The documentation provided by your doctor will play a major role in any attempts to file a claim or pursue some type of settlement. Depending on the severity of your situation, a personal injury lawyer will ensure those documents are brought to the attention of the responsible party and the insurance company. Keep in mind that the doctor’s findings tend to have greater influence when the examination takes place soon after the event.
Insurance providers take several factors into account when evaluating claims. One of those has to do with how much time passes between the car accident and when medical treatment was sought. From the perspective of an insurance adjustor, someone who is injured or believes some type of injury took place will seek medical treatment sooner rather than later. When you wait a week or two to visit a physician about the pain in your neck that won’t go away, the insurance company may take the stance that your injury, assuming it’s real, is due to something other than the accident.
Do yourself a favor and see a doctor after your auto accident. If everything is fine, that’s great news. If something is out of the ordinary, prompt treatment could mean preventing a lot of discomfort in the days and weeks to come.