If you have been in a car accident, you are well aware that the effects do not end when you leave the scene. Even the most minor impact can jolt your body in ways that it is not designed to withstand and cause injuries.
While most injuries are obvious, many can linger or be masked by the pain from somewhere else. For example, a broken bone is an obvious injury that can be reported and verified easily. But, pain in your back or your neck is much more difficult to diagnose. I often have clients report low back pain after an accident. As they get treatment on the low back pain and it begins to heal, they realize that their mid and upper back also is in pain. They could not recognize these other injuries because the lower back pain was so intense, it blocked or masked the pain from nearby.
While the above scenario is common, another example of a long term effect of a car accident that is often not immediately recognized by victims of car accidents are injuries to their head. Concussions are the leading injury to the head. With a concussion, the effects can be deceiving. When the headaches or light sensitivity disappear, it can take weeks or even months to realize what the long term effects on the brain can be. For example, I have a client who sustained a concussion in a car accident. She went back to work and although she had periodic headaches, she didn’t think much of it. She had other injuries to her body and that was her main focus on treatment. But, she also sold cosmetics to people at house parties as a side job. When she started throwing the parties again, she realized that she could no longer speak in public and her entire memory about the products was erased. Thus, she had to stop selling the products at the parties. It took this example several months after the car accident to realize that her brain was not working properly and to get help.
These are just a couple of examples of how car accidents affect people in the long term. This article is designed to provide some helpful guidance if you are in a car accident and have questions.
Always Get Checked Out
Not getting medical treatment after a car accident is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. I suspect there are a couple of reasons why people don’t see a doctor or wait too long. The first is the expense. Most people do not understand that their medical bills up to $10,000 are paid by no fault, or PIP insurance. And, if they use that insurance, their rates will not go up. So, the reality is that the bills will be handled. The second issue is a person’s thought that the injury is not that severe and will get better on its own. This misconception often leads to a lot of regret because people do not understand that once their spine is injured, it will stay that way forever. Even if the symptoms get better in the near term, they will come back over and over. By the time that people realize that the injury was caused by the car accident and want to get treatment, it is often too late. Therefore, I advise in every case where there is any pain or soreness that my clients get checked out.
Tell Your Doctor Everything
When you go to a doctor to be seen for your injuries, it is important to let him or her know everything that is bothering you even if it is not severe. This is important for two reasons. First, from a medical perspective, if you don’t report what is painful, the doctor cannot treat it. Second, from a legal perspective, if you do not tell your doctor about the injury and it doesn’t get reflected in his notes, the insurance company will not compensate you for it.
I have observed that some of my clients act brave or tough in front of their medical professionals. I am not sure why this is the case, but it happens a lot. It must be human nature for some people to not want to complain about an injury. So, in every consultation I make sure that I tell clients to tell the doctor about every injury even if they think it isn’t serious.
Treat With Medical Professionals Who Specialize in Car Accident Injuries
Another mistake that people make at the beginning of their medical treatment is to be seen by their primary care physician. Most primary care doctors will set the appointment, you’ll wait several days, show up, and be told that they don’t handle car accident injuries. At that point, you would have lost valuable time to get better and the insurance company will punish your case for the delay. For the people who are actually seen by the primary care doctor, the treatment is usually subpar. They might give you an x-ray and some muscle relaxers and tell you that you are fine. But, this is not appropriate care for a soft tissue car accident injury. Only with an MRI and a specialist can you truly determine the extent of the injury. Many people are mistakenly led to believe that the injury will heal on its own, when that is simply not how disc injuries work.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in car accident injury claims. Our practice is primarily in Pinellas County and the greater Tampa Bay area. If you have been injured in a car accident, our advice is to always speak to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. The insurance companies will try to get to you before you get a lawyer, but do not be fooled. A lawyer will be able to avoid costly mistakes that may affect your health and the value of your claim. If you have any questions about bringing a claim, please contact us for a free consultation.