Being in an auto accident, such as a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, is devastating. Accidents like these can cause severe injuries, ranging from broken bones, head injuries, and whiplash to internal bleeding and spinal damage.
But accidents can also be fairly minor, with those involved sustaining only a few cuts and bruises.
If you’re lucky enough to walk away from an accident relatively unscathed, you might wonder if it’s worth seeking medical attention.
There’s no denying that the cost of medical treatment can mount quickly. Because of this, many people opt not to see a doctor.
If you hurt your ankle, you might not be able to work for a few days, costing a portion of your wages. When you’re facing a financial setback, you might wonder, “What’s the point in visiting a doctor when I can rest at home?”.
The financial worry is only compounded for people who sustain even more severe injuries. It’s difficult enough coming to terms with your injuries and getting over the shock of such a traumatic accident, so the prospect of a substantial medical bill couldn’t come at a worse time.
Unfortunately, not seeking medical attention can have a much higher cost.
Some injuries get worse over time, the impact of which could have been reduced or even prevented with early treatment.
For example, what you think is just a sprain that you can treat with ice and rest might be a break that needs surgery. Because it wasn’t identified early, you might be left with permanent weakness, pain, and limited mobility. Even with corrective surgery or months or years of physical therapy, you might never regain full movement.
What you think is a random headache a week after your injury could be a concussion — a mild traumatic brain injury. This is a common injury sustained in auto accidents, as the sudden jolt causes your brain to move back and forth rapidly. Even if you don’t directly sustain a head injury, a doctor will often recommend preventive measures to minimize the damage. For example, if a doctor suspects you might have a concussion, they will prescribe rest and advise against overexertion. If you choose not to visit a doctor and feel well enough to play sports or maintain your usual routine, you could be inadvertently harming your recovery and putting yourself at risk of reinjury.
Your health should be your number-one priority, and this alone makes it vital to seek medical attention after an auto accident. However, it’s also non-negotiable if your accident was caused by someone else and you wish to claim compensation.
Why Claim Compensation after an Auto Accident?
If you’re in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation. If you’re on your way home after a day at work and a drunk driver sideswipes your car, causing you a head injury, you deserve to be compensated by that driver. If you stop at an intersection and the vehicle behind you hits the brakes, but the brakes fail, and the car rear-ends you, resulting in you getting whiplash, you deserve to be compensated by the manufacturer of the defective brake.
After all, if the other driver wasn’t intoxicated or the brake worked as intended, the accident would have likely never happened.
The impact of such accidents can’t be underestimated. Not only will you likely face immediate medical bills — such as emergency room fees, tests, scans, and prescription medication — but you also may have long-term treatment costs, such as physical therapy, surgery, and adaptive aids like prosthetics or a wheelchair for a permanent injury.
On top of that, you’ll likely need time off work, ranging from a few weeks for a minor injury to months or longer for more severe injuries. In some cases, you may be unable to ever work again or be forced to change careers because your injuries prevent you from performing your previous responsibilities.
But what does this have to do with visiting a doctor after your accident?
If you wish to claim compensation for your injuries, you need to meet the burden of proof. You need to show that another party (another driver, a manufacturer, or another third party) breached a duty of care by acting recklessly or negligently and that their behavior caused your injuries.
If we take the example of being hit by a drunk driver, the burden of proof will look like this:
- The drunk driver owed you a duty of care on the road to drive safely and follow traffic laws.
- The drunk driver breached this duty of care by driving while intoxicated.
- Getting behind the wheel while drunk caused them to hit you.
- The impact of the crash caused your injuries.
- Your injuries resulted in significant medical bills, lost wages, pain, and mental anguish.
Medical records are vital to prove your injuries happened — and that they occurred at the time of your auto accident. If you failed to seek medical attention after your accident, the drunk driver’s insurance company could argue that your injuries happened after the crash in an unrelated event and, therefore, that they shouldn’t compensate you.
This can derail your compensation claim, preventing you from recovering your past and future medical expenses, your past and future lost income, and additional damages for ongoing pain, anguish, and the overall impact of your injury on your life.
It’s clear that a compensation payout can be a lifeline for auto accident victims, helping them pay their bills and adapt to life after their injuries, which is even more vital if an accident leaves a person with a permanent disability. As evidence is the cornerstone of a successful claim, seeing a doctor and seeking advice from a personal injury lawyer are vital steps for anyone seeking compensation for their injuries.