Why It’s Important to Seek Medical Treatment After your Car Accident?

You may not realize that you need to see a doctor after your car accident, but making that call is one of the most important things you will do after the reports are filed and the insurance companies are notified.  You may feel a little “stiff,” but you’re sure the pain will go away on its own with a little rest and aspirin.  You tell yourself that the accident wasn’t bad enough to warrant an evaluation, and that you feel “fine.” 

There are many reasons that you should seek a medical evaluation after your car accident, no matter how insignificant you feel the damage to your car is.

All accidents and victims are different.

The truth is that the damage to your can is not an indicator of your potential for serious, sometimes life altering, injuries.  It’s vitally important that you get an evaluation from a qualified physician.

There is a series of tests your doctor will want to run including X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans and other diagnostics to make sure you are not more injured than you think.  It isn’t uncommon for injuries to take hours, days or even weeks to show up following your car accident and it’s important to document your injuries properly or insurance companies can refuse to compensate you if you fail to seek treatment in a timely manner. 

Your doctor may take X-rays to evaluate your neck ligaments and cervical stability.  If there is a loss of curvature or cervical lordosis in the neck, the accident victim becomes far more likely to develop further complications such as disc herniation and degeneration, pinched nerves, and osteoarthritis.

You may think the pain from the injury will pass on its own.

If the underlying cause of the discomfort is a significant injury it will require treatment.  Waiting too long to seek a medical evaluation can complicate the situation financially as well as physically; insurance companies are not on your side and are looking for any reason they can find to avoid paying claims.   Even if you aren’t symptomatic, pain and disability can arise long after the accident.  Anyone who experiences numbness, weakness and tingling in the arms or neck pain that radiates to the extremities will most likely require an MRI to make sure the injury isn’t more significant.  Disc herniations or other spinal injuries are not uncommon after an accident.

Being rear-ended brings about a different pattern of injuries, ranging from whiplash to low back pain. Many other factors can play into your injuries following a rear-end collision, such as size and speed of the vehicle and if the seats or seat belts fail.  One type of rear end collision will cause part of the car to physically leave the ground and bounce back down in what is referred to as a “submarine collision.” This type of accident will worsen any pre-existing back problems you have or cause entirely new ones.  Your doctor will perform an examination to make sure you haven’t sustained a serious injury.

Once the evaluation is complete, your injuries and potential injuries are classified for potential treatment options and turned over to the insurance companies for processing.

When deciding whether you should be medically evaluated after an accident, here are a few facts to keep in mind:

1.  Damage to the car is no indicator of your physical injuries.

  • A neck injury can be sustained at only 5mph in a rear end collision.:
  • Whiplash can occur with speeds of only 6-12mph.  At this speed, it’s possible the car itself won’t sustain damages.

2.  Concussion or other head injuries can occur even if you never hit your head on anything during the accident.

  • Brain injury can end up in cognitive deficits.  These can include irritability, memory loss, personality changes or dizziness.
  • While people can generally recover from a mild brain injury within a month or two, some may continue to experience problems.  Called post-concussive syndrome, symptoms can last for many years after the injury.

3.  Your injuries following an accident will depend on many factors, like:

  • your position when the car was struck
  • whether you were using the restraints
  • our awareness of the accident before it happens (tensing up)
  • the forces involved in the accident (speed, striking a stopped vehicle rather than a moving one, etc.)

4.  Over 50% of accident victims will continue to have pain and disability up to five years after the accident.

  • Elderly and female accident victims, along with those who already have a condition such as arthritis, will have a greater chance of injury at less forces than the rest of the population.
  • Neck injuries that result in a loss of neck function may lead to damage of the core muscles and pain in the lower back.

5.   It is very common to be symptom free immediately following the accident and have symptoms show up days, weeks and even months later.

  • For victims with whiplash, the earlier the treatment the better the outcome and the quicker symptoms are relieved (four days for relief rather than two weeks)
  • It is always a good idea to seek evaluation after an accident even if you are symptom free.

To avoid potentially complicated battles with the insurance companies and even worse, lasting physical pain and disability, it’s always wise to seek a medical evaluation as soon after the accident as you can.  Dr. Crist has handled thousands of car accident injuries and understands the stress and confusion that follows them.  Let us help you if you’ve been involved in a car accident to begin healing and get the compensation you deserve.

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