No one wants to visit a doctor if they don’t have to. Doctors are expensive, appointments are rarely convenient, and the waiting room is one of the dullest places on the planet. This reticence to visit a doctor is understandable, but if you have suffered an injury in a car accident, it can be a very big mistake.
If there is any type of injury that requires immediate medical attention, it is one you get in a car accident. Ask any personal injury lawyer and they will all give you the same advice — visit a doctor even if you believe that your injury is minor. And this isn’t just because they want your business. It is a safe choice, too.
Something many people don’t realize is that serious injuries aren’t always apparent immediately after they occur. If you break a bone, for example, you may not realize the extent of the injury until weeks later, when it still hurts a lot more than you expect.
The types of injuries that people get in car accidents are often deceptive. At first, they seem rather tame, but they may linger for years or even decades if not treated promptly.
For injuries like this, the longer you wait to get medical attention, the longer it will take to recover. If you wait too long, you may never be able to fully recover from the injury. And even if you can, because the injury will require more treatment, it will cost you more in the long run.
Some injuries that don’t seem very dangerous at first can even be fatal if left untreated. This category of injury includes:
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Head injuries
- Lacerations that can get infected
You might feel tired or lightheaded if you have internal bleeding, for example, but outwardly it can look like nothing worse than a bad bruise. Only a doctor can diagnose it for what it really is.
In such cases, if you wait even a few days (or a few hours), it will be too late to treat. The bleeding will be too rampant and the doctor won’t be able to stop the injury from becoming fatal.
There’s another reason personal injury attorneys want you to get medical attention — a doctor’s evaluation will support your legal claims and increase the likelihood that you will get the compensation you deserve after a car accident.
However, you won’t get any money for medical expenses if you don’t receive treatment in the first place. If you don’t visit a doctor, there is no medical bill to get compensation for.
The threat of future medical bills is enough to keep many people away from a doctor even when they know they need one. But remember — a personal injury attorney will help you fight to get compensation for any bills you receive. Getting proper medical treatment is one of the best ways to help your attorney help you.
After all, doctors create medical records, and records are critical when you are dealing with an insurance company. Insurers document every penny that they pay to claimants. So it is just as important that you have proper medical records as it is that you visit the doctor in the first place.
These records serve an additional purpose for your personal injury lawyer. Not only do they show how much money you spent on treatment but they also help your attorney estimate how much your treatment will cost before you fully recover.
Typically, you complete the claims process long before your recovery is done. This means that you don’t know what the full cost of your treatment will be. Medical documents, including a full diagnosis of your condition, allow experienced personal injury attorneys to give an accurate estimate of those costs to the insurance company.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, if you delay getting medical attention, your condition could worsen and you might require additional treatment. You may think this just means the insurance company would pay you more money, but you’d be wrong.
The insurance company will claim that your delay in getting medical attention is the reason the condition worsened — thus, the company isn’t liable for costs resulting from that delay. By waiting to see a doctor, you might not only suffer more but also have to pay out of pocket for some of your treatment.
Finally, there is a statute of limitations in Ohio. If you wait too long to get medical attention, you might not be able to take legal action against the person who injured you or their insurance company. That statute of limitations starts when you are injured, not when you discover the injury.
Regardless of how you look at it, if you want to get fair compensation for the injuries you suffered in a car accident, the best way to do that is to receive medical treatment as soon as you can. This means you should get a medical evaluation right away, even if you have no obvious signs of injury.
The biggest mistake you can make after being hurt in a car accident is trying to go it alone. As already noted, this means you should get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. It also means you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
An experienced personal injury attorney will help you navigate the complicated claims process, direct you to doctors that specialize in the type of medicine you need, and work to get you the compensation you didn’t even know you were eligible to receive. And best of all, the initial consultation with a lawyer from Slater & Zurz is completely free.