If you were involved in a serious car accident and walked away from it relatively unscathed, you may consider yourself extremely fortunate. However, this does not mean you should not seek medical attention or at the very least get an examination. There are several reasons why going to a hospital after a car accident is a good idea, not the least of which is the tricky nature of many auto-related injuries.
Seeing a doctor in the wake of a crash is also important when it comes to filing an insurance claim and, if necessary, taking your claim to court.
Why Bother If I Am Not Hurt?
The answer here is that you very well could be suffering a serious injury and not know or feel it right after a car crash. There are several injuries that do not present symptoms until hours or even days after an accident. You may not feel any immediate pain or discomfort because of chemical reactions in your brain.
It is essentially the classic fight or flight response. The brain, not knowing the difference between a pack of hungry wolves and a collision, floods the system with adrenaline and endorphins. It is the same physiological reaction that enables a wounded soldier on the battlefield to carry an injured comrade to safety or athletes to stay in the game after pulling a muscle or tendon.
There is another reason to go to the hospital after a car accident: To file a claim, you need to give your insurance company documentation that includes the date you first sought medical treatment. The sooner you see a doctor following an accident, the stronger your claim will be.
What Kind of Injuries Have Delayed Symptoms?
Auto collision-related injuries that may not be immediately debilitating are those involving soft tissues. These are ligaments, muscles, tendons and internal organs — anything in the body that is not bone tissue. Depending on the site of the injury and the severity of the impact causing it, symptoms such as bruising and pain may not be apparent for hours, days or even weeks.
One type of soft-tissue injury that car accident victims frequently suffer is whiplash. This injury results from the literal whipping motion of the neck and head due to inertia. Ligaments, muscle tissue and the spinal cord itself are subjected to the forces of sudden inertia. Imagine a medieval warrior swinging a flail and you have a pretty good idea of what happens to the unprotected head and neck in a collision (as well as sporting accidents and assaults).Whiplash is also a good example of a soft-tissue injury that often has delayed symptoms. Unfortunately, unless the patient is experiencing pain and discomfort, whiplash is difficult to diagnose, as soft tissues do not show up on an X-ray image. However, through a hands-on examination, a physician may be able to determine whether whiplash symptoms will develop. A visit to the doctor will also educate you on symptoms to watch out for, treatment and rehabilitation options and long-term prognosis.
Picture a ripe tomato enclosed in a glass container. Imagine that a chef takes the container in one hand and forcefully slams it into the palm of the other. What happens to the tomato is similar to a non-traumatic brain injury, or concussion.
A concussion occurs when the head is thrown against another surface with force. Your brain is surrounded by a layer of cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions and protects it. When the impact is severe enough, the brain slams against the interior of the skull. The most obvious and immediate symptom is disorientation; the victim may also be rendered partially or completely unconscious.
Other symptoms include cognitive difficulties, blurred vision, dizziness, headache, nausea, and any number of sleep disorders. Once a concussion is diagnosed, the only treatment is rest for the body as well as the mind. Be prepared for your doctor to order you to avoid activities that involve using a computer or smartphone, watching television or even reading print for three weeks or more.
How Does Seeking Treatment Help My Case?
Another reason you should go to the hospital after a car crash is to establish proof that any injuries you may have sustained are a direct result of the accident. Remember that an insurance company is like any other business: they are out to turn a profit. This means they look for any reason to reduce the amount they might have to pay out on a claim or deny it altogether. They are not being evil; they are simply playing by the rules of the game.
You are in the game as well; while their objective is to minimize their liability, yours is to maximize it. As in any adversarial proceeding, the most essential element of the game is evidence, and the side with the most convincing evidence wins. Therefore, you want to establish early on that your injuries were suffered in the impact, whether immediately apparent or not. Many insurance companies require an insured to seek medical treatment within a certain amount of time following an accident.
The sooner you do this, the stronger your case will be. Timing is especially important in no-fault states like Massachusetts, in which drivers are required to carry personal injury protection coverage. As you may be aware, PIP supplements your auto policy by providing additional funds to cover medical costs. However, in order to be eligible for this supplemental payout, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of an accident. Otherwise, it will take much longer to receive payment, and you may not get it at all.
It is also important to see a care provider who is familiar with PIP claims and understands the process.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Having a car accident attorney represent you in an insurance claim is not an absolute requirement, but it is highly recommended. As mentioned earlier, the insurance company’s goal is to minimize the payout, while yours is to maximize it. Because of this, insurers will use all kinds of tricks to get an injured party to accept a low-ball offer. The team at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers is familiar with how insurance companies operate and can help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. In the meantime, try to abide by these recommendations:
- Do not sign anything
- Do not discuss your injuries with anyone except your doctor
- Do not post pictures or mention the accident on social media
- Document the accident as much as possible
Following these guidelines will ensure your case goes as smoothly as possible.
How Much Does an Attorney Cost?
Jason Stone Injury Lawyers understands the financial burden that accident victims must bear. This is why our Stone Cold Guarantee® states that we get paid only after we win your case. Jason Stone’s team is here to aid your recovery and help you get your life back to normal. As our client, you can expect prompt communication, full guidance throughout the process and regular updates on your case. Call Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today, and remember: There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.