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Should I see a doctor after a car accident?

  1. Should I see a doctor after a car accident?
  2. Why you should always seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a car crash
  3. 1. Car accident injuries are often more serious than they first seem
  4. 2. Getting medical help right away can greatly improve your chances of getting fair compensation for your injuries
  5. After you’ve sought medical attention, seek a personal injury attorney, too

Should I see a doctor after a car accident?

Not everyone likes going to the doctor. In fact, about one third of Americans actively avoid going even when they suspect that they probably should. Some are worried about cost. Others just don’t want to hear bad news and are hoping everything works out. 

So if you’re one of those people and you’re able to walk away from a car accident with no apparent broken bones, and maybe only some mild-to-moderate aches and pains, you might be inclined to just shrug it off. 

Don’t do that! 

Even if you’re the kind of person who would ordinarily wait until your arm is dangling by a thread before calling your primary care physician, you should always seek medical care and a complete physical examination after any car accident that produces any symptoms—even seemingly mild ones. Skipping out on early medical treatment could end up costing you a lot more than you might think.

Why you should always seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a car crash

Surgery After Car Accident

If you’ve been in a crash, are dealing with any symptoms whatsoever, and you didn’t go to the emergency room immediately afterward, you should still set up an appointment with your primary care doctor as soon as possible (and if one isn’t available within the next 24-48 hours, go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room as well depending on the level of your symptoms). 

That may seem like overkill—and in the best-case scenario, it will be. But trust us: if things take a turn for the worse, you will be very glad you took these steps. 

Here are two big reasons why: 

1. Car accident injuries are often more serious than they first seem

Surgery After Car Accident

Many car accident injuries, including soft tissue injuries, brain injuries, and others often take a while to fully reveal themselves. In those first few moments after the crash, you’ve got adrenaline pumping, your mind is racing, and you’re probably not really feeling the full effects of your injuries. 

But in the days and weeks ahead, those “mild” soft tissue injuries might become much more chronic and limiting. That headache you expected to subside after a good night’s sleep might go on and on and on. You may find that when you try to go back to work, spend time with your family and friends, or just relax, your brain won’t cooperate due to memory problems, mood swings, or constant anxiety or depression. 

Seeking medical care sooner rather than later greatly increases your chances of identifying and dealing with these problems early, which can mean better long-term health outcomes and fewer money woes. 

Car accident injuries that often require surgery 

These severe injuries often require surgery to make a full recovery: 

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Mild TBIs and concussions usually don’t require surgery. Yet, they tend to be more common in car accidents. Severe TBIs such as skull fractures, open head trauma, hematomas, hemorrhages, and diffuse axonal damage can result in permanent brain damage and be life-threatening. These injuries often require surgery, along with other therapeutic treatments. 
  • Severe bone fractures: Mild bone fractures may only require casting to heal. Bones that are broken into two or more pieces need to be put back together and held in place. Metal plates, pins, screws, and wires are often used. 
  • Neck injuries, back injuries, and spine injuries: Slipped or herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, or spinal cord damage can lead to serious (and sometimes permanent) pain and complications. The following surgical procedures are necessary after sustaining a severe injury to the neck, back and spine: 
  • Spinal fusion: Two or more vertebrae fused together to fix a broken vertebra. 
  • Laminectomy: A small part of a vertebra surgically removed to reduce pressure on a spinal nerve. 
  • Discectomy: Part of a herniated disc removed to reduce pressure on a spinal nerve. 
  • Vertebroplasty: Broken vertebra repaired with acrylic bone cement filling. 
  • Soft tissue injures (muscle, tendon, or ligament tears): When a muscle, tendon, or ligament tears, it may not heal without surgery. We often see this with knee injuries and rotator cuff tears. 
  • Severe injuries to the face: Severe facial injuries from airbag deployment, broken glass, and other factors can cause disfigurement and permanent scarring. These types of injuries often require plastic surgery or reconstructive surgery. 

In addition to surgery, you may have to undergo months of physical therapy, compression, elevation, ice/heat therapy and pain medication. On top of that, you may need to rest and avoid any physically demanding activities until you recover. 

This can be both financially and emotionally devastating for crash victims.  

2. Getting medical help right away can greatly improve your chances of getting fair compensation for your injuries

Surgery After Car Accident

Getting medical care usually means paying medical bills. And for most American families, a few thousand dollars is more than enough to cause real financial hardship. So naturally, if you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you want to make sure you get the full compensation you’re entitled to. 

Here’s the problem. The insurance company is looking for any possible excuse not to pay out your claim. If you wait several days (or even longer) after your car accident to seek medical services, most insurance companies will argue that your injuries must not really be that bad. They may even try to claim that your injuries were pre-existing or unrelated to the crash. 

Seeing a medical professional in a timely manner protects you against this kind of dishonest argument. Number one, it shows the insurance company that you took your injuries seriously. And number two, the treating physician will start to diagnose specific injuries and establish medical records for you that identify the car crash as the root cause.

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After you've sought medical attention, seek a personal injury attorney, too

Surgery After Car Accident

Personal injury lawyers are right after doctors on the list of professionals to see after a car accident, and for good reason. The insurance company is not going to wait long to start working on ways to close your case as cheaply as possible, and they have no shame about pretending to be on your side—then tricking you into making statements or taking actions that damage your case. 

Zach Herschensohn is an aggressive car accident lawyer who fights hard for accident victims—including those who have suffered major, complex injuries. Our team can help you through the insurance claims process, ensure you get the medical care you need, gather evidence and expert testimony supporting your case, and negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement. And if the insurer won’t play ball, we’re not afraid to fight for your rights at trial. 

To schedule a free consultation with our Washington law firm, complete our simple contact form or give us a call directly at (206) 588-4344.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

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