How Long After a Car Accident Should I See a Doctor?
When it comes to the severity of damage, car accidents can appear anywhere on the spectrum. Some car accidents, thankfully, only cause minor damage to the vehicle(s) involved. Unfortunately, other car accidents result in grave bodily harm and can even have severe psychological impacts. Somewhere in between these two extremes lie several situations where the physical impacts of a car accident do not arise until some time after the car accident. So when should you see a doctor after you have been in a car accident?
Sooner is Better
Because of the variability in physical trauma that can occur after a car accident, and because of the masking that can occur from an adrenaline rush, the sooner you are able to see a medical professional for an assessment of real and potential injuries, the better. You do not have to be gravely injured to seek the advice of a medical professional, either. A thorough medical exam can not only detect injuries – in some cases, but it can also be lifesaving. In fact, failing to seek medical attention is one of several things following a car accident you should not do.
Addressing injuries sooner rather than later is also important for several reasons, from course of treatment to insurance claims. Consider this scenario: Jane Smith suffers whiplash after being involved in an automobile accident. In on hypothetical version of this scenario, she seeks immediate treatment despite “feeling fine”. In the second hypothetical version of this scenario, Jane does not seek professional medical help until nearly two months after the initial accident – instead trying a variety of home remedies and care, while the pain progressively worsens and becomes unbearable.
In the first scenario, any tissue or muscular tears that result from the whiplash can be addressed and Jane can be put on an immediate treatment plan, thereby minimizing long-term damage and pain. In the second scenario, although Jane may have attempted to exhaust every remedy before turning to a doctor, they may have engaged in some activity or remedy that exacerbated the trauma. Even worse – it will be nearly impossible for Jane to prove that the pain they are experiencing is directly tied to the car accident, rather than some other incident that occurred in the two months between the car accident and the doctor’s visit.
The 72-Hour Rule is especially important when a car accident may have been severe enough to cause underlying injuries that are not immediately apparent. Generally, most injuries will appear within 24-48 hours after a collision. In certain instances, other injuries (especially in the neck or back) will take a longer time to develop – up to several weeks.
By making sure that you visit a medical professional in the first 72 hours (or 3 days) after a car accident, the emergency room or doctor’s visit can be used as critical evidence when it comes to insurance claims and lawsuits. These records often include results of X-Rays, MRIs, and other notes from nurses and doctors. This also ensures that any injuries that would have responded to prompt treatment do not go ignored – which would otherwise result in more involved and expensive procedures down the road.
If you establish a record of seeking medical care within what the insurance company deems a reasonable timeframe (i.e., 72 hours), even if those symptoms don’t appear in the first doctor’s visit, you will be able to keep the door open to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver if the physical symptoms of your injuries appear later.
Contact an Attorney Today
After any car accident, but especially after a car accident where you have been injured, you should speak to an attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of this situation. An attorney can offer guidance when it comes to taking the right steps to ensure that you are able to recover damages to cover costs like medical bills, lost wages, and more. The attorneys at B|B Law Group have expertise in automobile accidents and can answer your questions. Contact the B|B Law Group to schedule a consultation today!
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