When to See a Doctor After a Car Accident

female doctor speaking with car accident victims over a telehealth call

Sometimes traffic collisions are obviously violent and traumatic events. Other times, a crash may seem like nothing more than a fender bender. How do you know what to see a doctor following a car accident?

The truth is that symptoms of significant injuries may not manifest immediately after an accident. As adrenaline pumps through your veins and your body responds to the stress of a frightening incident, you may not realize for hours or even days that you are hurt. Failing to seek medical attention following an accident can jeopardize not just your health, but also your ability to recover the money you need to care for yourself.

When is the right time to see a doctor after a car accident? The legal team at Finz & Finz, P.C., has the answer.

When to See a Doctor After a Car Accident

When should you see a doctor after being involved in a car accident? The answer is simple: as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel any pain or think you aren’t injured. Car accidents put enormous strain and stress on the human body. Even fender benders can cause concussion and whiplash. These conditions, if left untreated, may cause long-term pain or medical complications.

If your injuries are significant, the emergency room is your best source of immediate medical attention. In case of minor car accidents, you may want to seek treatment from an urgent care facility or make an appointment with your general practitioner. If your doctor cannot see you within 72 hours of the accident, consider the emergency room or urgent care.

Delayed Injuries After a Crash

The indications of injury may not be apparent after an accident. Why? It’s because the body can mask the signs of trauma in overwhelmingly stressful situations with what’s called the fight-or-flight response. In the seconds after a crash, the hormone adrenaline floods the body.

The purpose of adrenaline is to give the body the ability to fight back or flee from a situation the subconscious perceives as dangerous. Adrenaline shuts down some bodily functions while increasing the output of others. Blood flow is diverted from the skin and certain organs to the muscles. Stored glycogen in the liver is converted into glucose to give the body more energy. These responses to adrenaline make your body better able to react and respond to a stressful situation.

However, adrenaline also limits the transmission of pain signals to the brain. You may feel a rush in the immediate aftermath of an accident and think you are fine. When the adrenaline wears off, the tell-tale signs of injury can appear. Concussion, whiplash, soft tissue injuries, and internal bleeding are common car accident injuries that don’t always manifest obvious or immediate symptoms.

Seeing a medical professional as soon as possible means you are getting the treatment you need, even if you don’t yet realize you need it. The longer you wait to treat an injury, the more serious the medical complications of that injury can become. Failing to get the care you require can even lead to life-long medical complications, infection, and chronic pain.

Other Reasons to Seek Medical Treatment Immediately

Your health and safety should be priority number one. Yet, there are additional reasons to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you file an insurance claim seeking compensation, your medical records play a vital role in an insurance adjuster’s evaluation of your claim.

Without medical documentation substantiating your diagnosis, you might struggle to get the money you need after an accident. If you failed to seek medical care, an insurer assumes you were not injured. If you claim to have suffered an injury, but there is no medical proof that it exists or tying it to the crash, the adjuster assigned to your case may believe you are not being truthful about the extent of your injuries or your claim. They might question your credibility and outright deny your claim.

Establishing the value and credibility of your car accident claim takes evidence – and your medical records are a crucial piece of that evidence. Failing to seek care or delaying getting care can jeopardize your ability to secure fair compensation for your injuries. Deviating from your doctor’s specified treatment plan can also hurt your case.

Common Car Accident Injuries

No two car accidents are alike. A fender bender can cause life-threatening injuries, while a semi-truck accident may only lead to bumps and bruises. Never assume you know how your body will react to a traumatic event. Some of the most common car accident injuries include:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Contusions
  • Facial injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Lacerations
  • Neck and spine injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Paralysis
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Whiplash

A car accident can impact a person’s mental health as well. Traumatic events can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression and may also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Even a slight blow to the head can change the brain’s chemistry, making such mental health issues more likely.

Meeting with a medical professional after an accident is crucial because it establishes a baseline for your future treatment. If you suddenly develop worrying new symptoms, your condition does not improve over time, or you begin to have mental health concerns, your doctor can review your medical records and help you find solutions.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Help

Navigating the insurance claim process after an accident can be challenging. Insurance companies want to protect their bottom lines, meaning they may look for ways to keep your payout low or deny your claim altogether. Failing to seek medical treatment after an accident gives an adjuster an easy out. Protect yourself. After a crash, follow up with a doctor as soon as possible and call the experienced car accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. for help.

Our New York City car accident lawyers are committed to helping our clients seek maximum compensation after traffic collisions. For a free consultation, contact our New York City injury attorney today.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

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.