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Delaying Medical Care After a Car Wreck Can Be a Costly Mistake

delay going to the dr

Broken bones, deep cuts, and partial or complete paralysis are just some of the injuries you might sustain in a car wreck that need immediate attention. However, not all auto crash injuries are immediately noticeable. You may only feel a little sore or nothing except a surge of adrenaline following your collision.

This feeling can be deceptive. You may have suffered severe but unseen injuries that require quick and specialized treatment. Delaying getting the treatment you need will harm your health and your legal rights and ability to obtain compensation through a lawsuit or settlement.

Types of Injuries That May Not Immediately Show Symptoms

It is expected to rely on your body’s feelings to decide whether to see a doctor. For example, waiting until you have a fever before taking any medicine is not surprising. Applying the same reasoning and logic to the aftermath of an accident is not surprising. But it can be hours, days, or even weeks before you first notice symptoms of specific car crash injuries.

Common injuries that may not result in immediate signs and symptoms include traumatic brain injuries, concussions, infections, and joint injuries.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Concussions

A concussion or traumatic brain injury is likely after hitting your head on the steering wheel or support pillar during the crash. An airbag deploying or seat belt can cause you to suffer a whiplash injury. Whiplash is caused by rapid head movement.

The first indication that you suffered more than a bump on the head is a persistent headache, constant nausea, and vomiting, or other symptoms that do not go away or get worse after getting better. These symptoms could continue for days or weeks before you decide to seek medical treatment.


Cuts and lacerations by broken glass or sharp metal shards during a crash can become infected if not properly cleaned. Soap and water are not always sufficient to clean wounds if shards of glass or metal remain embedded in your skin.

Wounds that become infected appear red and inflamed, do not heal properly, or have a foul-smelling discharge. Untreated infections can lead to a fever and other symptoms as they develop. The more extended treatment is delayed, the more difficult it can be to recover from your infection.

Joint Injuries

Even with a seat belt, suffering injuries to your shoulder or other joints in a violent crash is possible. What starts as a sore shoulder or muscle ache can worsen over days or weeks without treatment. It’s typical to notice an increasingly low range of motion in your shoulder or joint.

Because these initially invisible injuries can worsen and threaten your health with delayed treatment, car accident lawyers recommend that you seek medical evaluation and treatment after nearly every car accident.

Delaying Medical Treatment May Harm Your Legal Rights

Your right to receive compensation following a car collision can be adversely affected if you delay medical care, which is why your car accident attorney will advise you to seek prompt medical treatment. A treatment delay will likely make it significantly more difficult for you and your Columbus personal injury lawyer to obtain full compensation for your injuries.

One of the key elements you must prove as part of a successful car accident lawsuit is that the other person’s negligent conduct is the cause of your injuries. This element is proven much easier when your injuries are discovered and documented quickly following a crash.

Difficulties Separating Injury Accidents from One Another

When your injuries are not immediately discovered, treated, documented, or worsened over time, making the connection between your injuries and the accident becomes difficult for your car accident lawyer to prove. For example, if you happen to be injured in any other accident, a judge or jury would have difficulty separating the harm you suffered in your car crash from the harm you suffered in the subsequent accident.

A Delay in Seeking Treatment May Be Considered Negligence

Moreover, your decision to delay treatment will likely be perceived as carelessness, especially if the delay causes additional harm. If a judge or jury believes your own actions helped contribute to your injuries, including how severe your injuries became, your compensation award would be reduced accordingly.

Know When to Seek Medical Treatment After a Car Wreck

It isn’t always clear whether you should get medical care after a crash. And when your health and compensation are on the line, you must understand when to seek medical attention.

You should visit a doctor or emergency room if you have doubts about the severity of your injuries after a wreck. In addition, seek medical evaluation as soon as possible if:

  • You strike your head or experience dizziness, headaches, nausea, or confusion
  • You black out for any length of time.
  • You suspect you may have broken a bone
  • You are experiencing unusual pain, especially in a joint or your back
  • You have lost sensation in any part of your body

Seek treatment and evaluation if you have prior injuries or injuries that are healing, such as a broken bone recently set. During your case, your car accident attorney may ask you to periodically get medically evaluated to ensure your injuries heal as expected and that you are not developing complications.

Contact Slater & Zurz, Your Ohio Car Accident Law Firm

The personal injury lawyers at the accident law firm of Slater & Zurz dedicate their practice to helping clients receive as much compensation as possible following car wrecks. Our car accident attorneys want you to receive full compensation for your car crash injuries so that you can recover physically and financially. Our legal team is prepared to provide knowledgeable and helpful counsel if you or a loved one has been in a wreck. Contact any one of our offices and request a free consultation with us.