Most experts will tell you to see a doctor after an automobile accident. This is generally sound advice even if you weren’t traveling at high speeds and didn’t suffer any obvious or horrific injuries.
The truth is that it’s often hard to understand the extent of your injuries at the scene of the crash, or even in the first minutes or hours afterward. Some injuries may not reveal themselves until later. Failing to identify these injuries before you talk with the insurance company may hinder your recovery.
You may not recognize any outward signs of whiplash at the crash scene. It might even take time for the injury to cause you pain. But it’s possible to suffer whiplash from low-speed crashes, and whiplash can lead to chronic pain.
Treatment for whiplash may involve:
- Pain medications, some of which doctors may even inject directly into the neck
- Muscle relaxants
- Cold packs
- Isometric exercises
- Chiropractic treatments
Historically, doctors struggled to identify which cases of whiplash might lead to chronic pain, but improved imaging tests are helping them make stronger predictions.
The sudden forces involved in auto accidents don’t stay on the surface of your body. They go right through you. These forces may cause damage to your blood vessels or organs, causing them to bleed, even if you don’t suffer any outward cuts or breaks.
Internal injuries may cause you to lose enough blood that you go into shock, but some internal injuries may bleed more slowly. It may take longer for their signs to show up. These signs may include:
- Faintness or weakness
- Unexplained changes in mood or alertness
- Lost consciousness
Severe internal bleeding can be life-threatening and demands immediate treatment. Even minor internal bleeding, if not treated, can become more severe. It’s in your best interest to catch and treat internal injuries as quickly as possible.
Broken bones aren’t always obvious. Doctors may need to take x-rays to identify hairline fractures—cracks in bones that don’t completely snap them. Until you see the x-ray, you might just think you’re suffering from a bad bruise.
It’s important to identify these fractures right away because failing to treat them can lead to greater problems:
- The hairline fracture could cause the bone to break completely
- The bone may take longer to heal or may never fully heal
- The bone could heal out of alignment, leading to ongoing pain and diminished strength
It’s relatively easy for your doctor to identify broken bones by way of an x-ray. Your warning signs may include pain, swelling, bruising and limited movement or strength.
Your recovery depends on reliable information
Experts advise you to see a doctor after an auto accident because you may otherwise overlook some potentially serious injuries. You could bring real harm upon yourself and significantly extend your pain and discomfort. Underestimating your injuries could also carry real financial consequences, especially if you provide the insurance company with any sort of statement before you fully understand your situation.
After a car crash, your recovery has both physical and financial components. Both may hinge on the results of your medical exam. Gaps in treatment after a visit to the Emergency Room can damage the value of your case and in most cases lowers the amount of settlement dollars the insurance company is willing to pay on your claim.