When Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
The Importance of Immediate Medical Attention for Car Accident Injuries
Even if you've sustained only a minor injury in a car crash, it may take a while for the initial shock to wear off before you feel like you can begin making important decisions. This can often feel like a never-ending “to do” list: contact your insurance provider, arrange for a rental car, take your car to the shop, etc.
With all these factors, it can become easy for you to neglect your physical health until injuries grow into much bigger issues. However, it is imperative that you seek medical attention within 72 hours following your car accident.
Why 72 Hours?
When making an injury claim following a crash, insurance companies often require that medical attention be sought within a 'reasonable' amount of time. This reasonable timeframe is usually considered to be about 72 hours (or three days) after sustaining the injury. After this period, an insurance adjuster may begin questioning the severity of your injuries and what actually caused them.
Even if you ultimately require surgery or extensive treatment and care for the injuries sustained, the compensation awarded by the insurance company could be significantly reduced if you delayed seeking medical care. In these instances, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Should I Get Emergency Medical Services at the Scene?
It's not uncommon for many to question whether the best solution to this 72-hour 'rule' is to call for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at the scene of the accident. This way, you can ensure that you are being cared for by a medical professional and have a record of the injury being directly tied to the crash.
However, doing so is not that simple for every person. It may take a significant amount of time for EMS to arrive if the crash occurred in a rural area, and when they do, it may cost more than your actual treatment to be transported for further evaluation. Additionally, there is only so much that an EMS team can do at the scene to check for internal injuries.
If there are no outward signs that you have been injured, the adrenaline from being involved in a car crash may have you thinking that you have no injuries at all. However, some symptoms may arise in the hours or days following when the adrenaline has worn off. These are often referred to as latent car crash injuries and should be taken just as seriously as those at the scene.
What are Latent Car Crash Injuries?
Latent crash injuries are unfortunately common and can appear as simple cuts, bruises, and symptoms of whiplash. However, other signs may point to a more serious issue that might require immediate medical attention, including:
- Concussion symptoms like nausea and vomiting, difficulty concentrating, and vision issues.
- Whiplash that persists for days or weeks.
- Signs of PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
Signs of internal/organ damage may also become more obvious in the days following, especially if you declined EMS or didn’t seek medical care right away. Symptoms like tenderness in the abdomen, blood in urine, and sweaty, cold skin may point to signs of organ damage.
Since latent injuries are, by definition, those with delayed symptoms, it will serve you well to go to the doctor as soon as possible after your crash. This way, a medical professional can examine any preliminary signs of severe injury and provide the treatment needed to prevent further damage.
New Orleans Car Accident Attorneys
The team at The Chopin Law Firm LLC encourages you to make your health and safety a priority following any motor vehicle accident. And when you need assistance pursuing your claim against the driver who caused your injury, we are here to help.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling (504) 475-2429 or filling out this short form.