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When is it Too Late to Go to the Doctor After a Car Accident?

Physician examines an injured patient after an accident

Brief Summary: Car accident injuries are not always obvious. Some people may not seek treatment for common auto accident injuries like whiplash or traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the immediate aftermath of a crash because they do not believe their injuries are serious enough. This is a mistake. Insurance companies may require policyholders to see a doctor within a fixed timeframe after an accident to be eligible for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Depending on your state, the deadline could be within 72 hours.

As accident lawyers, we believe it is vital to see a doctor as soon as you can after a crash. The best time to see a doctor after an auto accident is as soon as possible. In this blog, we discuss some of the reasons why you should not delay in seeking medical attention.

Information on Seeing a Car Accident Doctor to Treat Injuries

Do I Need to See a Doctor After a Car Accident?

Yes. You may not realize it immediately after an accident, but you may have injuries that can cause mobility issues or make you miss work for some time. Many people refuse medical attention after a crash, only to be bothered by nagging aches and pains later diagnosed as serious injuries.

Going to the doctor will give you a better understanding of the care you need. For example, you may need to see a specialist for whiplash or an orthopedist if you have shoulder pain. A doctor’s diagnosis also documents your claims for damages if you intend to pursue a car accident claim. More on this below.

Is There a Specific Car Accident Doctor I Should See?

The type of doctor you see after a car wreck varies depending on the severity of your injuries and the time of the accident. If you are in a serious car accident, you will likely go to the emergency room for treatment.

Even if your injuries are not life-threatening and you do not need to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, the ER likely offers the best treatment after a serious car accident. Going to the ER is the best option—and possibly the only option—if you were injured in a car accident late at night or early in the morning. The ER is always open, and you probably will not have to wait long to be treated.

For moderate to minor car accident injuries, you can go to an urgent care clinic to get examined and treated. Urgent care facilities are nice because they are usually open longer than primary care physicians (PCP), and patients can walk in for treatment without an appointment.

If your injuries are minor and do not cause discomfort, you can call your doctor and tell them you have been in a car accident. They can conduct a physical examination to ensure you sustained no lingering injuries in the car accident.

When you visit your doctor, tell them about any pain, aches, or other conditions that have negatively affected your day-to-day life. You may have sustained an injury without realizing it and require further evaluation from a specialist and additional treatment.

How Long Do You Have to Go to a Car Accident Doctor?

Getting medical attention as soon as possible should be your number one priority following a car accident. Even if you do not think you need to, it is imperative that a doctor evaluate you to make sure you are in good health and you get any treatment or therapy to get you feeling better.

As accident attorneys, we have seen countless examples of car accident victims struggling with undiagnosed concussions or soft tissue injuries that should have been caught and treated early if they had seen a doctor immediately after their accident.

Some insurance companies may require policyholders to see a physician within a fixed timeframe after an accident to be eligible for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Depending on your state, you may have anywhere from 72 hours to 14 days after an auto accident to see a doctor.

Bottom line: see a doctor to ensure your injuries are documented and eligible for insurance reimbursement.

What If My Primary Care Doctor Will Not See Me After a Car Crash?

This may come as a surprise, but some doctors have policies wherein they will not see car accident victims because of insurance billing issues and/or they do not want to be called to testify in court if the victim files a car accident lawsuit.

If your primary care doctor refuses to treat you, call the personal injury lawyers at Wisner Baum. We can help get you on the path to restoring your health.

Most Common Car Crash Injuries

Car accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, from minor scrapes and bruises to serious and life-threatening conditions. The violent movement, impacts, debris, and other elements involved in a crash can all contribute to the severity of injuries sustained. Our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience and understand that each car crash is unique, with injuries affecting people in different ways.

Some car accident injuries are more common than others. One of the most frequently occurring injuries resulting from car accidents is whiplash, which occurs when the head and neck are suddenly jerked back and forth. Other common injuries include:

What Should I Do if I Have Back Pain from a Car Accident?

Back pain is one of the most common types of injuries after a car accident. If at any point you experience back pain after a car crash, you need to seek medical help as soon as possible. Car accident victims who see a doctor for back pain are often diagnosed with:

  • Spinal stenosis: This occurs when a bone fragment or ruptured disc intrudes into the spinal canal and applies pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.
  • Lumbar sprains: These result from excessive force that stretches the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back.
  • Degenerative spinal disorders: These can go by many names and occur when parts of the spine start to break down.
  • Herniated discs: This happens when the inner filling of a spinal disc ruptures through its outer casing, touching surrounding nerves and causing intense pain.

Can I Sue After a Car Accident?

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be able to pursue compensation by making a car accident claim. Chances are you will not need to sue someone personally after a car crash because most accident claims are resolved during settlement negotiations. If the other party in the accident has insurance coverage, you may file a claim through their insurance provider to recover compensation.

However, if your case is more complex or involves a truck, you may retain an attorney and file a car accident lawsuit. To be successful, you will need to prove that another person or entity was responsible for the harm you suffered.

In establishing fault for a car accident, it is important to consider the following four elements:

  • Duty of care: All drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely on public roads.
  • Breach of duty: The other party failed to uphold this obligation of safe driving.
  • Causation: The other party‘s actions directly caused the collision.
  • Damages: You have incurred financial losses as a result of the car accident.

How Much is a Car Accident Case Worth?

The value of your car accident claim depends on your claims for damages. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses: These can include hospital bills, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages or earning capacity: This refers to missed work or permanent disability that affects your ability to earn a living.
  • Pain and suffering: This encompasses physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
  • Property damage: This includes damage to your vehicle or other personal property.
  • Loss of consortium: This refers to the inability to engage in normal social and personal activities.
  • Punitive damages: These are rare in car crash cases but may be available in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm.

If the accident involves a wrongful death claim, available damages may include the following:

  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Lost income the deceased would have earned
  • Pain and suffering of the deceased
  • Loss of companionship and support

It is important to note that not all of these damages may be recoverable in every case, as the specific damages depend on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, it is critical not to accept an insurance settlement offer without speaking to a lawyer. Auto insurance companies are businesses seeking to maximize profits, and initial settlement offers are often lower than what the case is worth.

Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer can help level the playing field and result in fair compensation for your injuries. An attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and present evidence to show the true extent of your damages.

Injured in a car accident? Call (855) 948-5098 orfill out our contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation with Wisner Baum. We accept cases in California and throughout the country.



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