How Long Do I Have to Seek Medical Care After an Accident? 

person injured after a car accident sitting with a doctor

How Long Do I Have to Seek Medical Care After an Accident?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New York or Long Island, it’s crucial to seek medical attention right away. Even if you don’t think you’ve been severely hurt, some symptoms of severe injuries, such as whiplash and internal bleeding, don’t always immediately appear immediately after an accident.

Seeking prompt medical attention isn’t merely about protecting your health. Insurance companies usually require that you be evaluated by a medical professional within a certain window of time in order to claim compensation for your injuries. If you don’t, insurance adjusters may try to argue that your injuries did not result from the accident, or might not believe that you were actually injured at all, and deny your rightful claim to compensation.

How Long Can I Wait to Be Evaluated by a Physician?

While it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention for your health after a crash, it’s also a requirement by many insurance companies if you want to claim compensation for your injuries.

One important factor that will affect your negotiations with an insurance adjuster is whether or not you sought out medical treatment in a “reasonable” amount of time.

That window is usually 72 hours, but it might vary depending on your insurer. If you get evaluated by a medical professional within that window, you’ll increase your odds of getting the fair settlement that you deserve. Failure to get medical attention within that window could result in a severe reduction of your total compensation.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to go to an emergency room if you feel that your injuries are not serious. You may also visit a med clinic or even your PCP. But for the sake of your health, and to make sure you get the compensation you deserve, make sure to get a medical evaluation within that three-day window.

Car Accident Injuries Can Show Up Later

Some symptoms of severe injuries might not appear for hours, days, or even weeks after the crash, including brain injuries and whiplash. Internal bleeding may also not show itself right away, but it can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injuries and concussions include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory impairment
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Numbness in arms and legs
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in behavior

Whiplash injuries occur when the head and neck jerks violently back and forth, which can happen in a variety of car accidents but often happens when a vehicle is rear-ended. Sometimes, whiplash is not immediately apparent. This is known as “delayed whiplash.” Delayed whiplash may show itself in the days and weeks after a crash has occurred. Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury. Even if you don’t immediately feel the effects of the injury, it’s good to be evaluated by a physician right away just in case.

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and hands
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory problems
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

No matter how you feel, it’s always worth it to get checked out. A physician may be able to detect and diagnose injuries promptly, which could be crucial for your health and any injury claim you might need to make. You can always go back for further medical evaluations later if delayed injuries show up. The most important thing is to get your initial medical evaluation as soon as possible.

Could I Still Seek Compensation If I Didn’t Get Medical Attention Right Away?

Because insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they will work to protect their bottom line at all times. This means finding ways to diminish or deny your claim for compensation, and a gap in medical treatment is one thing they might try to use against you.

Even if you didn’t get immediate medical treatment, it could be possible to still seek compensation, depending on the circumstances. It is important to note that a gap in treatment could impact your claim, but every case is different, and only an experienced attorney can evaluate the strength of your case.

How A New York Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

For nearly four decades, the New York City car accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. on Long Island have fought for the rights of those who’ve been hurt in our community. We represent those who’ve been harmed by negligence, and we’ll be ready to fight for you. If you’ve been severely injured in a car accident in New York or Long Island, call us for a 100% free consultation. We represent clients on a contingency-fee-basis, which means you won’t owe us anything until we recover fair compensation for you.

Call us at 1-855-TOP-FIRM or reach out to us online today to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.


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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.