Seeking appropriate medical treatment following a car accident is crucial, both to diagnose and treat your injuries and to document your symptoms and complaints. Seeing a medical provider as soon as possible makes it easier to prove your injuries were caused by the accident.
One of the things the emergency staff will try to determine is whether you lost consciousness in the accident. Oftentimes, people do not realize they did in fact lose consciousness, so medical professionals explore such issues as momentary memory loss, confusion, head or facial abrasions, and signs of impact on the windshield or steering wheel. Obtaining immediate treatment for head injuries is vital – so do not guess if you are not sure whether you lost consciousness in the crash.
III. Delayed onset of symptoms: Frequently, the initial shock and adrenaline rush that comes from an accident prevents you from realizing the extent of your injuries until later. Many people feel “fine” following an accident, only to feel stiff and sore or unable to get out of bed within a few days. At the scene, therefore, instead of telling the police officer that you have no injuries, you would be better off telling the people on scene that you are shaken up, and do not know the extent of your injuries yet.
As soon as symptoms develop, it is important to see a doctor right away. Go to the emergency room, urgent care or a trusted family doctor as soon as possible. Make sure you explain the details of the accident, what you have been doing since the accident (such as relaxing in bed with ice and ibuprofen), and how the symptoms gradually became apparent. Do not assume that your failure to seek immediate medical treatment precludes you from pursuing any recovery. Some injuries, such as a herniated disc in the spine, make take as long as several months to become evident. Only health care specialists can make the determination of whether your problems were caused by the accident.
In an auto or truck accident case, the person at fault for causing the injury is responsible not only for injuries that came about solely because of the accident (such as a broken bone), but they are also responsible for aggravation injuries. For instance, if you had a prior low back strain or bulging disc, and the auto accident caused the bulging disc to herniate, the defendant is responsible for that additional injury.
Similarly, many people may be walking around with defects in their body of which they were not even aware, only to have that defect become symptomatic as a result of the accident. For example, a person could have degenerative changes or arthritis in the knees or spine that is not causing any symptoms. If an auto accident causes that body part to start hurting, just because arthritis shows up on MRIs or x-rays does not mean that the person involved in causing the accident is off the hook.
It is important to give as much of a detailed and accurate medical history as possible to your doctors following the accident. Make sure to tell them about any prior injuries or pre-existing conditions, especially in the area of the body that was injured in the accident. Otherwise, the calculating lawyers hired by the insurance company will try to make it look as if you were hiding something from the doctors. In addition, the doctors are able to more fully understand what the accident caused if they know about any prior problems and treatment.
As always, Faerber & Anderson, P.C., stands ready to help you with these issues. We can order prior medical records to give to your doctors, help you choose the right specialist to see and render advice on how medical issues affect your case. Call us at 314-772-0010 for a free consultation.