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When Is It Too Late to Go to the Doctor After a Car Accident?

Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

When you’re in a car accident, everything can quickly become a blur of events. In those moments following the crash, you may quickly take stock of things and assume you’re not hurt if you can move your limbs and are not bleeding.

However, not visiting the doctor after a car accident can be a huge mistake that could impact your compensation in your injury claim. A late doctor visit after a car accident may provide enough cause for the insurance company to deny your claim or lower your payout. It may also mean that you miss the statute of limitations for filing your lawsuit.

Agruss Law Firm, LLC has years of experience helping clients navigate the complexities of recovering compensation for car accident injuries. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the importance of car accident doctor visit timing to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

The Importance of Seeing a Doctor After a Car Accident

You may be wondering if a late doctor visit after a car accident can help your case. The important thing to remember is that you should seek medical treatment as soon as you realize you are injured.

The adrenaline and trauma of this event can easily mask the symptoms of your injuries. As that fades, it may become obvious that you are hurt. Even if the pain is minor, you should not waste any time going to your primary care doctor. If your symptoms are severe, you should go straight to the emergency room.

It is not uncommon for car accident victims to have undiagnosed concussions or soft tissue injuries that have worsened because they did not receive medical care. The best thing you can do after a car accident is be on the safe side by going to the doctor.

Keep in mind that insurance companies often impose a timeline for claiming injuries. It may be anywhere from 72 hours to 14 days that you have to get your injuries diagnosed by a medical professional. With a doctor’s diagnosis, you’ll have a medical record that helps prove the injuries you sustained in this crash and makes it easier to seek compensation.

Potential Car Accident Injuries That May Not Present Immediate Symptoms

Car accident doctor visit timing is essential for catching injuries that may not present symptoms right away. Whiplash is one of the most common of these injuries, usually resulting from rear-end collisions. The damage it does to the ligaments, soft tissues, and tendons in your neck can become permanent if you don’t seek medical treatment. This would mean you’d suffer chronic pain for the rest of your life.

Other scenarios can prove life-threatening if you fail to seek timely medical treatment following your car accident. Concussions, spinal injuries, internal bleeding, and blood clots can worsen. You can also have psychological impacts from the trauma of the accident or the devastation of your injuries.

Common Reasons Why Accident Victims Delay or Avoid Going to the Doctor After a Car Accident

Among the top reasons that victims either delay or avoid going to the doctor after a car accident is because they don’t have immediate symptoms and think they are fine. It is a huge mistake to make such an assumption as there are many injuries that will not present physical symptoms right away. These symptoms may take hours or days to show up. In some cases, it may be weeks before symptoms of injuries appear.

Others are overwhelmed by the car accident. If they aren’t bleeding and can move their arms and legs, they put off medical treatment. This is common in multi-vehicle accidents where other drivers and passengers may have also been injured. If you witnessed a fatality, the trauma of this event may make it difficult for you to think coherently.

Some people are afraid of going for their regular wellness checkups. When they are hurt, they may be even more fearful of going to the doctor. While it is a valid concern, it is important that you face your fears and make sure you get a full medical examination after an auto accident.

Additionally, the soaring costs of living along with the costs of medical care may mean that some injured victims are afraid of the medical bills. They may not have health insurance and worry that they can’t afford to go to the doctor or the hospital.

No matter what, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible following a car accident. If you didn’t cause the accident, the other driver will be responsible for paying your medical bills and other financial losses they’ve caused through their careless driving behaviors. After an accident, get the medical care you need and then contact a Chicago car accident lawyer to help you recover compensation.

The Legal Implications of Delaying Medical Treatment

A late doctor visit after a car accident can be problematic for a variety of reasons. The longer you wait, the greater the risks will be to your health and livelihood. As your condition worsens, it could become even more difficult and more costly to treat your injuries.

With delayed injury symptoms, something like a mild traumatic brain injury could quickly escalate into a serious medical concern. If it is treated it promptly, you can return to life as you knew it before the accident. Waiting can mean that you will need to endure long-term care and that the impacts may be permanent.

In addition to affecting your health, delayed medical treatment can have legal implications. It can put the compensation you deserve at risk. Read on to find out how insurance companies can use this against you in your car accident claim.

How Insurance Companies May Use Delayed Medical Treatment Against You

When you delay medical treatment, you create more risks for your injury claim. The longer you wait, the weaker the connection will be to the accident and your injuries.

Insurance companies will use this against you to claim that if your injuries were truly as severe as you claim, you would have gone to the hospital or seen a doctor immediately after the accident. If they agree to issue a payout, it will likely be much lower than you deserve, and they’ll try to spin it that this is the only way they’ll cover the costs since you didn’t seek prompt medical care.

The insurance adjusters are trained to look at gaps in medical treatment after an auto accident. When they see this, they will argue that you are not credible, that you’re lying about your injuries, or that your injuries occurred after the car wreck.

If you did not go to the doctor after a car accident that someone caused by driving negligently and you get injured, you should make sure to discuss your case with a Chicago personal injury lawyer to get sound legal advice on what you should do next.

Which Doctor Should You Visit After a Car Accident?

The type of doctor you should visit after your car accident will depend on the severity of your injuries. On the accident scene, paramedics may arrive and deem it necessary to take you to the hospital via ambulance. However, if you do not have any life-threatening injuries, they may advise you to go to the hospital on your own accord, an urgent care, or your own doctor.

Accident victims with minor injuries can go to the nearest urgent care center. In the absence of any visible injuries or symptoms, you should see your own doctor as soon as possible. They will conduct tests and an examination. If necessary, they will refer you to the appropriate specialists to get the medical care needed to treat your injuries.

As you get these treatments, it will create a medical record of your injuries. This is important for documenting the evidence in your case. When you file a car accident claim with the other driver’s insurance company, you will need to provide records of your injuries. They will then offer a settlement. You can do this on your own, but it is always best to have an Aurora injury lawyer take a look and see if what you are offered is sufficient to cover the injuries you have suffered.

If you are either offered too little to cover your financial losses, are blamed for partial causation of your injuries, or the insurance company denies your claim, you will also want legal representation to help you file a personal injury lawsuit.

What to Know About Filing a Lawsuit After a Late Doctor Visit After a Car Accident

If you are still within the two-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois, then you can sue the at-fault driver for your injuries. However, it will be much more complicated if you wait to seek medical care after the crash.

It is not impossible to win your settlement or verdict when treatment has been delayed. Certain factors will still need to be established, starting with negligence. Proving negligence in a car accident requires showing the other driver had a duty of care, which is something every driver on the road owes to all other drivers.

There must be a breach of this duty, demonstrated by the other evidence that may show the other driver was texting while driving, speeding, or driving while intoxicated. This action must be the cause of the crash which led to your injuries. The trickiest part will be showing that the injuries you delayed seeking treatment for were caused by these events.

Your attorney will need to conduct a deep investigation and look for evidence to support your case. The longer you wait to gather the evidence, the less likely it will still remain. Hence, if you get the care you need from doctors following an accident, you can establish that your injuries were caused by the negligent driver.

Understanding the Potential Consequences of Delayed Treatment in Car Accident Claims

If you were in a car accident in the last 24 to 48 hours, it is essential that you get to a doctor right away. Even a late doctor visit after a car accident is better than not going at all. Additionally, if you did seek medical treatment but have not yet followed up on the care that the doctors prescribed, it is time to take action.

Not getting treatment or having gaps between required treatments will make it much harder for you to get the compensation you deserve. When there are major gaps between treatments, it can give the defendant ammunition to use against you. They can claim that there are doubts regarding causation, meaning that your injuries could have been caused by something other than the accident. This tactic can also be used to claim your car accident injuries are pre-existing injuries unrelated to your current legal matter.

Delaying treatment also allows the insurance company and the defendant to claim that your injuries were not that severe. A reasonable person would go to the doctor if they were hurt, and by this logic, they can avoid taking any blame. If they can reduce their liability, they can reduce their payout. Ultimately, this will hurt your case as you will not get the full amount of your compensation.

Your compensation should include the medical bills and expenses you’ve incurred from the auto accident. If you were unable to work due to your injuries, you should be able to factor in your lost wages. You may also seek non-economic damages such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The biggest takeaway here is that these damages can be greatly reduced when you do not promptly attend to your medical care following a car crash. Delaying treatment isn’t always the kiss of death for compensation, though it will mean you will need an attorney to help you protect your legal rights.

How to Protect Your Rights to Compensation After Delaying Medical Treatment

There are personal injury cases where victims have been to a doctor and there was no evidence of injuries at the time only for injuries to appear later. Delaying your medical treatment after a car accident may not be the wisest move, but you can still seek compensation for your injuries.

The first step is to go to a doctor after a car accident as soon as you realize you are injured. This will be best if you go soon after your auto wreck, though you can still go even if it has been a few days or weeks. You should keep a journal of how you are feeling after the accident to document your recovery and your injuries. When you have an official diagnosis, it can be used to help establish the level of pain and suffering you have experienced from this situation.

After the accident, you may have taken photos or videos of the aftermath. The police were likely summoned to fill out a police report detailing the accident. There may be witnesses as well, and each of these factors, along with the medical records from your delayed treatment, can be helpful in your car accident case.

It still may not be too late to start your injury claim and recover compensation for the injuries a negligent driver caused. In order for this to have the best chance at the outcome you’d like to see, you will need a personal injury attorney to help you navigate the legal process. Agruss Law Firm, LLC offers free initial consultations for people in your situation to learn more about your legal options.

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