Why Do I Need a Medical Exam if I Feel Uninjured After a Car Accident?
Most people don’t enjoy going to the doctor. However, at times it’s certainly necessary. Being involved in any motor vehicle collision is one of those times. Even if you aren’t experiencing pain or other symptoms or your pain is mild. Even if your car suffered minor damage. Even if you think you just have some bumps and scrapes. Even if you don’t have health insurance or a primary care provider, you must seek medical attention after being in a car accident and contact a car accident lawyer, but why?
The Importance of Early Medical Intervention
Car crash victims should rely on their medical teams to provide them with a timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. To do this, it’s crucial for individuals injured in a car crash to seek medical care as soon as possible.
Some injuries don’t start to reveal symptoms until later. Other injuries can be severe or potentially fatal but do not have noticeable symptoms, such as internal bleeding or organ damage. The sooner an injured person reaches out for medical care, the better off they will be medically and legally speaking.
Suppose you get rear-ended at a stop light. After the accident, you are still processing what happened and don’t notice any pain or other symptoms. The next day your back is a little sore but not enough to concern you, so you don’t go to the doctor. Ten days later, you wake up and can barely get out of bed. You go to the emergency room and learn that you have three slipped discs due to your car accident.
In that case, the at-fault party’s auto insurance company will likely fight to pay for your injuries. They will argue that you did something else during those ten days to cause your slipped discs and that your injury isn’t the result of the car accident.
It’s much easier for your attorney to link your injuries to the accident if you seek medical care immediately. Even if the doctor isn’t sure of a diagnosis immediately, having your accident and any pain or other symptoms documented in your medical records will serve as evidence for your claim.
Don’t worry if you don’t have health insurance; the at-fault party’s insurance company is liable for your medical bills, and your car accident attorney can help ensure these bills get paid.
Information to Provide to Your Doctor Post-Car Accident
Medical providers are well-versed in what types of injuries might arise after specific incidents. For example, they know that a fall victim might be at risk for a head injury or a broken bone. They know that abuse victims might have wounds in various stages of healing or spiral fractures. When it comes to motor vehicle collisions, there can be countless different types of injuries.
The type, location, and severity of an injury depend on many factors, such as:
The speed at the vehicles were traveling at the time of the collision
The types and sizes of vehicles involved
How the vehicles landed
If the victim was restrained or thrown from the vehicle
If their vehicle’s airbags deployed
Sometimes, your body may mask your symptoms, and you may not detect that you’ve suffered a severe injury. After being involved in any motor vehicle collision, it’s critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have pain or other symptoms, it’s still in your best interests to go. Whether you go to the emergency room, an urgent care center, or a doctor’s office, this step can benefit your health and any future legal claim you might have.
Not only is seeing a doctor essential but also what you tell them. Giving them the correct information can help them provide an accurate diagnosis and formulate a successful treatment plan. This documentation will also help maximize your compensation.
Your Medical History
The doctor who treats you needs to have your medical history, including what medications you take, any ongoing conditions, recent diagnoses, and any past trauma, significant injuries, or surgeries. Even if you think something in your history won’t impact your treatment after a wreck, you should still share the details with your provider. You may be unaware of how something in your history might affect what is going on now.
The Crash Details
Don’t simply tell your doctor, “My back is bothering me.” Let them know you were in a motor vehicle collision and explain the specifics. Your legal claim needs to have the reason for your injuries documented in your medical records. For instance, you can start by telling them, “I was stopped at a red light when a bus rear-ended me. The impact pushed my car forward into the intersection, and another vehicle hit my driver’s side doors.”
Keep in mind that you should refrain from embellishing your story. Avoid speculating about the exact speed the other vehicle was traveling or if they were intoxicated at the time. Sometimes, insurance companies try to use a victim’s imprecise statements to damage their credibility. To prevent this, only discuss the facts you know with certainty.
You should describe how the car crash occurred as best as you can.
Provide as many details as possible, and include:
The types of vehicles involved
Where you were sitting in the vehicle
If you were wearing your seatbelt
If the airbags deployed
What caused the accident and how it unfolded
What part of your vehicle got hit
What parts of the vehicle were damaged, and to what extent
Any immediate symptoms you had and when
Initially and over the entire course of your treatment, keep your doctor informed and updated about your symptoms. Don’t downplay what you experience but don’t overstate your symptoms either.
Describe the pain you’re feeling in detail:
What does the pain feel like?
Where is your pain, and does it radiate to other areas?
How often do you feel it?
How intense is it?
What makes it worse?
What makes it better?
Tell your doctor if:
You are experiencing stiffness, and where
You have lost any range of motion
You cannot complete normal daily activities such as hygiene, cleaning, cooking, or driving.
You should also inform your doctor if your pain or any other symptom worsens or improves with treatment. Having these details documented in your medical record can help ensure you receive a full and fair settlement for your injuries. For example, if you cannot take care of yourself for several weeks due to your back injury, you deserve compensation specifically for this.
What You Do for a Living
Another vital piece of information your doctor should know is the nature of your job and its physical demands. Even primarily sedentary tasks may be impossible for you to do because of pain or stiffness. The duties associated with your job don’t have to be physically arduous for you to need to stay home while you heal or limit your activity. This information will help your doctor understand what, if any, limitations or work restrictions you should have. It will also help substantiate lost wages as damages in your claim.
Common Medical Issues Post-Automobile Accident
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries suffered by car crash victims. The sudden and severe force placed on the neck in a crash can damage the neck’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The bones between the vertebrae or the intervertebral joints can become damaged, and nerve roots can become inflamed. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes to whiplash injuries. The most effective treatment is time.
Back problems often appear later than other types of injuries, making it imperative that those injured in a crash seek medical care as soon as possible, even if they don’t think they suffered an injury.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A traumatic accident can severely damage the spinal cord or the nerves connected to the spinal canal. These injuries can cause changes in strength, sensation, and other physiological functions in and around the injury area. In fact, a severe spinal injury may cause partial and complete loss of movement in the limbs, causing temporary or permanent disability.
One of the most concerning injuries in any type of incident is a head injury, specifically a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI can lead to permanent brain damage as well as sleep disorders, severe headaches, and seizures. The sooner the treatment, the better the outcome regarding head injuries.
The force of a collision can impact the body in many ways, causing bones to break or snap under pressure. Ribs, legs, arms, wrists, shoulders, knees, and ankles commonly suffer fractures in automobile wrecks.
Internal bleeding is one of the most concerning yet least obvious injuries someone involved in a car crash might suffer. Undiagnosed and untreated internal bleeding can lead to severe organ damage and death. Even if someone feels fine after a motor vehicle collision, they should still receive a medical examination to check for internal bleeding.
Some vehicle wrecks result in fires due to gasoline or other substances, such as those carried by tanker trucks. If the victim becomes trapped, even momentarily, in the fire area, they can suffer severe burns or smoke inhalation injuries.
Mental Health Issues
Although commonly overlooked, mental health issues are no less critical than other injuries. For example, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common among people involved in car accidents. Some medical conditions, such as paralysis, can also lead to psychological and emotional anguish for someone after an auto collision.
What if You Have a Pre-Existing Injury?
Too many people who suffer an injury in a motor vehicle accident make the mistake of thinking that they won’t qualify for compensation since they suffered a previous similar injury. Even if you had a similar injury or injured the same area of your body, you still have the right to seek compensation. In fact, the law establishes that negligent parties take other people as they are when they cause an incident.
If the new injury exacerbates an old injury, the person who caused the incident can be held responsible. Remember that insurance companies will try to use prior injuries as an excuse not to pay you the total amount of your damages. An experienced car accident attorney can help you reach the best possible outcome in your claim, even if you have a pre-existing injury.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
Getting medical care should always be a priority after an injury accident. Once you are medically stable, you can pursue your legal options. While your doctor may be unsure how long your injuries will take to heal, you have limited time to exercise your legal options for financial recovery.
Each state enacts its statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The statute of limitations is a deadline imposed for filing a lawsuit after suffering a personal injury, such as injuries in a motor vehicle accident.
If you miss this strict deadline, you no longer have the right to pursue compensation through the court system. However, when you hire a knowledgeable car accident attorney, they will know the deadline for filing your claim and ensure that your claim gets filed on time if a lawsuit becomes necessary.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
As you can see, car accident injury claims can be highly complex. You need to seek medical care and follow your doctor’s advice to receive the compensation you deserve. Not only do you need the help of medical providers after a car accident, but you also need representation from an experienced car accident lawyer to maximize your compensation. Don’t wait to reach out to an attorney after being involved in a car accident.
Reaching out to a lawyer sooner can ensure you meet all the deadlines for your case and have access to strong evidence. It can also relieve stress from your shoulders so you can focus on your injuries.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.