A car rear ends you at a red light, causing a minor fender bender. A distracted driver does not see you pulling into their row in the parking lot and accidentally backs into your passenger side as you go by. If you are involved in this type of minor car accident, you might not think that you have suffered an injury. In fact, many people just feel annoyed or embarrassed to be involved in this type of accident and want to minimize it by refusing to see a doctor or go to the hospital.
However, there are several good reasons why you should seek medical attention after a car accident even if you don’t think you were injured. First and foremost, some injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident but become more serious if they go untreated. And, unfortunately, the longer you wait to seek medical attention, the harder it will be to prove that your injuries were caused by the car accident and for you to get compensation.
Even a Minor Impact Can Cause Serious Injuries
Although low-speed collisions are typically not as damaging as higher-speed collisions, the impact can still cause drivers and passengers to be jolted in their seats, most commonly leading to head, neck, or back injuries. These might include concussions, neck strain, back sprain or strain, spinal disc injuries, thoracic spine injuries, or lumbar spine injuries. These types of injuries don’t always show immediate signs of physical trauma, so it’s important to be on the lookout for other signs, such as:
- Blurred or double vision
- Confusion or slowed reaction
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Numbness or tingling in limbs
- Muscle stiffness or soreness
An injury that seems minor at first can worsen if not treated, and many times, prompt medical attention can minimize the likelihood of this type of injury becoming more serious.
If your child was in the car with you, it’s especially important to seek medical attention, as a young child may not be able to fully articulate any symptoms or pain that he or she is experiencing. Sadly, car accidents are the leading cause of acquired disability for children under the age of 18 because people are still growing and developing at this age, and even a seemingly minor injury can lead to serious long-term health problems.
Pregnant women should always see their doctor after an auto accident, no matter how insignificant the accident seems. Even if you feel fine at first, miscarriage, placental abruption, and pre-term labor are all legitimate concerns, and only a doctor can evaluate you and tell you your best course of action.
Legal Reasons to Seek Medical Attention
Taking care of yourself and anyone else in the vehicle with you should be your first concern after an accident, but there are also legitimate legal reasons to seek medical attention as soon as possible. For one thing, if you wait too long, your insurance may not cover your medical expenses. Florida has a particularly tight deadline because of our personal injury protection (PIP) laws; anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident has only 14 days after the date of the accident to get medical treatment under their insurance policy.
It’s also much more difficult to take legal action and seek compensation for your injuries if you wait too long to see a doctor. If you wait even a few days to get medical attention, the other party will most likely question the validity of your claim or argue that your injuries were actually caused by something that occurred after the car accident. It may still be possible to recover compensation with the help of an experienced car accident attorney, but it will be much more challenging than if you had received medical attention the same day as the accident.
What Else To Do Immediately After an Auto Accident
The best steps to take after being in a car accident, no matter how minor, are to call the police in order to file a report, exchange contact information with the other driver, collect contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident, and go to your doctor or the nearest hospital. Following these steps will give you concrete evidence to support your case if it turns out that you are injured, and getting medical help as soon as possible can reduce the likelihood of suffering long-term effects. Remember: it is always in your best interest to see a doctor, even if it at first appears there is only vehicle damage.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.