Every hour, car accidents impact people in all corners of the U.S. The Colorado State Patrol releases information on crashes and distracted driving, speeding, and DUI are the leading three causes of traffic accidents. You never know when another driver may be texting, race through an intersection or around a corner, or swerve into your lane while drinking and driving. Defensive driving helps, but it’s not a fail-proof measure.
After an accident, your body is handling the stress response by sending out adrenaline. It makes it hard to focus. It also masks some of the pain and discomfort you feel, which may make it hard to know if you should go to the hospital. If you feel okay, you may be tempted to skip it. That’s not a good idea. It’s always best to have a medical professional look you over. There are two reasons why it’s important to see a doctor.
You Have a Medical Paper Trail
Sometimes, the injuries obtained in a car crash don’t go away in a few days. There can be lasting effects that make it hard to work. You may need help at home to complete tasks you cannot do independently while you’re healing. If you didn’t go to the doctor after the accident, the insurance company could question if your injuries were obtained during the accident. You may need to prove the injuries happened then and not days later while you were getting out of the shower or walking to get your mail.
If you encounter objections like that, medical paperwork ends the arguments. You have proof you saw a doctor and had the injuries you listed in the claim. You’ll have follow-up appointments and care instructions for the medical treatments you’ve received and any therapeutic measures you need weeks or months from the date of the accident.
There are also mental and physical injuries that may not heal quickly. If you’re in a serious accident, certain noises or situations may trigger an anxiety attack. It makes it hard to drive following a car crash. You might need months of therapy to learn how to manage the anxiety. It may impact your ability to get to work if your anxiety is severe. With paperwork from a doctor proving you are suffering from anxiety or PTSD, the insurance company will have a harder time disputing crash-related anxiety.
You Take Care of Yourself
Some injuries do not appear immediately. You have to take care of yourself. You may not be in pain. Adrenaline can mask pain and discomfort.
Whiplash may not appear for a few days. It’s a common injury in crashes where you’re hit from behind. The force of the collision causes your head to whip back, forward, and back again, which can damage the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the neck and upper spine. Symptoms include neck and shoulder pain. Harvard Health reports that the pain may last a year or longer and that 1 out of 10 patients deals with chronic pain that affects their personal life and ability to work.
Any crash moves the brain around. The impact of the car getting hit causes your body and head to be thrown back and forth or to one side. There’s also the potential impact of hitting the window, headrest, or metal frame. This can cause contusions on the brain. A concussion is one of the more common injuries after a car crash. It can be minor and not need treatment. It’s hard to tell at first if you seem okay.
A doctor can help diagnose if the concussion is minor or if you need to stay for observation. You may be sent home with the instructions that you are not to be left alone for the next few days. The person who stays with you will need to watch you for signs of a traumatic brain injury. If those signs appear, you need to go back to the hospital immediately.
Internal injuries are often found immediately, but it’s not always the case. A slow bleed may take hours before symptoms appear. If you’re home alone when you suddenly take a turn for the worse, it could become a life or death situation. Following a severe crash, you may have damage to your liver, spleen, or other organs. If you go to the hospital, doctors can find those injuries through scans.
Go to the doctor and make sure you get a copy of every prescription, medical bill, or doctor’s orders that are given or explained. If the doctor hasn’t written out the diagnosis and care instructions, ask for them before you leave the medical practice.
Jordan, Herington & Rowley is an award-winning Colorado law firm that specializes in personal injury law. After a car accident, talk to one of our attorneys. While the other driver’s insurance may offer a fair settlement, it’s not a guarantee. A car accident is stressful enough. You want to protect yourself by talking to an expert in car accidents who can make sure you get the money you need for a full recovery from your injuries. Call (303) 647-3029 or fill out the online form to set up a free consultation.