If you’ve ever been in a crash, even a minor one, you probably recall the experience of shock afterwards: it’s difficult to think clearly, make decisions, or know what to do next. Unfortunately, shock often leads people with minor injuries to brush themselves off and head home rather than seeing a doctor.
Seeking medical attention, even for minor injuries, is the single most important thing you must do after an accident. Often injuries can only be discovered by a doctor, and even serious ones can seem minor at the time of a crash. In addition, if you don’t seek medical attention, you are opening the door for insurance companies to dispute your injuries or, even worse, refuse to compensate you. Below I’ll tell you why it’s essential to get care for all injuries (even those that seem minor) after a crash and when you may need help from a Passaic County car accident lawyer.
Not All Injuries Show Up Right Away
Some injuries, like a broken leg or a serious brain injury, are immediately noticeable after an accident because they are incredibly painful. But just because you feel fine after a crash, don’t assume you’ll wake up the next morning feeling injury-free.
In part, this is because after an accident, victims are flooded with adrenaline. We need adrenaline because it helps us focus and cope in dangerous situations. But another role adrenaline plays after an accident is that it decreases our ability to feel pain if we are injured. It can do this with minor injuries as well as severe ones like internal bleeding, which can quickly become life-threatening if ignored.
It is incredibly common for accident victims to discover injuries hours or even days after an accident. One example of this is whiplash, which results when the muscles and ligaments in the neck are damaged, often after someone is rear-ended. Whiplash almost never shows up right away, but instead gets more and more severe as the days pass, leaving people unable to go to work or do their usual daily tasks. Without a diagnosis, it may be difficult to be compensated for lost wages or other damages.
Only a Doctor Can Find Certain Injuries
Some injuries you don’t notice right away can only be discovered during a thorough exam by a doctor, including tests and x-rays. Hairline fractures, which can seriously worsen over time if left untreated, are just one example. Concussions are also extremely common, even in minor car accidents, but they are often overlooked because the victim doesn’t notice the symptoms (even though a doctor would be able to). In this case, if you fail to get treatment, a concussion can lead to serious cognitive difficulties down the road. It can also prevent you from effectively doing your job, driving to work, and performing other tasks that are typically part of your day. But again, without a diagnosis, you will lose out on important compensation you may need to recover.
Another mistake people make is assuming a minor injury will heal on its own, which is not always the case. Some injuries are chronic, and can continue to worsen or cause problems over months or years. If you don’t get checked out after an accident and a chronic injury later impacts your life, you won’t be able to seek compensation from an insurance company for it. But if you visit a doctor, they can submit documentation to the insurance company showing your need for treatment down the road so you can be compensated.
Issues With Insurance Compensation
As you’ve likely learned from some of the examples above, the purpose of going to a doctor right after an accident isn’t just to give you peace of mind that nothing serious is wrong, but to ensure that you are compensated fairly for your medical expenses. Even bills for minor injuries can be incredibly expensive, and the longer you wait to seek medical care, the more difficult it becomes to get an insurance company to pay for your treatment.
With proper medical documentation, you will have the evidence you need to negotiate with the insurance carrier and make sure you are fairly compensated. Without documentation of your injuries, an insurer will likely pay nothing. Even if you wait a few days to get treatment, an insurance claims adjuster can argue that your injuries were pre-existing or were caused by something other than the accident.
While this is of course incredibly unfair, many accident victims face a scenario where they are denied compensation and do not have sufficient evidence to prove their injuries to the insurance carrier. They are then left in serious debt when they pay out-of-pocket for their medical bills, only to discover that the insurance company won’t cover everything. At this point, there is not a lot you can do unless you consult with a car accident lawyer.
When to Talk to a Lawyer
Whether an insurance company is refusing to pay for your medical bills because you did not seek medical attention after your accident, or you are struggling to negotiate with your insurer because they are denying the seriousness of your injuries, the best chance of recovering damages at this point is typically to work with a Passaic County personal injury attorney.
At Bavagnoli & Bavagnoli, our team is committed to helping accident victims fight insurance companies and get the compensation they need to recover from major or minor injuries. We believe in working personally with each client to discover the complete details of your case, and in treating all of our clients like family.
If you are in need of help after an accident, contact Bob Bavagnoli today at (973) 785-9522.