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Why Are Medical Examinations Important After an Accident?

Doctor After a Car Accident

Accidents happen all the time, and to anyone at that. We can take all the precautions we want, but there’s just no preparing for an accident when it strikes.

You could slip on a wet floor inside the relative safety of your home. You can be a careful driver, and a drunk driver could still hit you and cause you so much pain and misery that you will eventually need the services of injury lawyers to help you get just compensation.

Then again, it’s entirely possible to be in an accident—vehicular or otherwise—and not feel hurt in any way immediately afterward. There have been countless accidents where the people involved walked away without a scratch, making them think they didn’t need to go to a hospital or visit a doctor for a proper medical checkup that will rule out any injury.

In many cases, not getting medical examinations done immediately following an accident has proven to be a huge mistake. If anything, it should be standard procedure for anyone involved in an accident to see a medical professional after an accident, regardless of its impact or severity.

Let’s look at why it’s important to undergo a medical examination immediately after an accident.

To Ensure Your Health and Well-being

Let’s imagine a person who was in a fender bender. The impact snapped his head back, but when everything settled down, he was feeling just fine. He checked all over his body, and he can see that he had no cuts, broken bones, or any feeling of being unwell. He gave his car a once-over, and he found out that the damage is relatively minor.

With the thought of avoiding all the hassle that medical examinations and insurance claims can bring, he decided to forgo all that and, with the agreement of the at-fault party, he just drove away.

A few hours later, he felt some pain and stiffness in the neck. As he moved his neck over time, the pain got progressively worse. Soon enough, the range of motion in the neck became extremely limited. He also began feeling dizzy, accompanied by a headache that seems to be emanating from the base of his neck.

From all indications, that person who walked away from a fender bender suffered a bad case of whiplash, a nonmedical term used to describe a neck injury that a forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck—like the head snapping back after an impact—can cause.

Unlike fractures and broken bones, the symptoms of whiplash are not readily apparent. Since whiplash deals with injuries to soft tissues of the neck like muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the symptoms tend to appear much later. Some take hours before they feel the effects of whiplash, although it’s possible in some cases to take days or even weeks before any of the symptoms mentioned above start to show up.

Now you can imagine the suffering that the person in our tale is likely going through. He will have to ice his neck periodically to reduce pain and swelling. If he decided to see a doctor after experiencing the symptoms, he would likely be taking prescription painkillers or other drugs or undergoing treatments like ultrasound therapy and massage and paying for all of it out of pocket.

Aside from whiplash, other injuries that often have delayed symptoms include:

  • Concussion
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spine injury
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Considering how some injuries don’t manifest immediately after an accident, you should make a medical examination a priority to make sure you are physically fine and won’t be in agony a few hours, days, or weeks down the road.

With their training and expertise, medical professionals can accurately identify injuries that may have resulted from the accident. With the early discovery of an injury from an accident, medical professionals will be able to take the right course of action that can help reduce its long-term complications.

Documentation for personal injury claims

Not all accidents result in a personal injury claim, particularly if the injuries are too minor.  In all likelihood, even a personal injury attorney will not encourage you to file a personal injury case if you barely suffered a scratch in an accident caused by someone else.

The question, however, is this: How do you know for sure, right after an accident, that you weren’t injured, or that a very tiny cut in your skin is pretty much the extent of your injury?

Checking your body for cuts and broken bones won’t be enough. The same goes for taking a few minutes to determine how you’re feeling physically. As mentioned above, some injuries take some time to start bothering you. You couldn’t possibly know that you’re perfectly fine after an accident without trained medical professionals conducting a thorough checkup.

Aside from finding out conclusively that you have either suffered an injury or didn’t, a medical examination immediately after an accident will document your injuries, if any, properly.

With proper documentation, you should be well-prepared for any personal injury claim that you may make against the at-fault person’s insurance company.

In case you didn’t know, insurance companies can be tough to deal with in cases of personal injury claims made against them. Keep in mind that their best interests will always be at the forefront whenever they authorize medical treatments, pay for losses, and offer compensation. Some would even go so far as to make up reasons so they won’t have to comply with the terms outlined in their policies.

If you figured in an accident and didn’t undergo a medical examination immediately afterward, the insurance company of the person who caused the accident won’t even have to invent a reason not to pay up.

Insurance companies will simply deny that you were injured in that accident, that you sustained your injury somewhere else and at some other time. That would make their client not responsible for your injuries, which means they don’t have to pay you anything.

Even if you have topnotch personal injury attorneys on your side, they will be hard-pressed to prove the extent of your injuries without any documentary evidence that you were examined by medical professionals as soon as the accident took place.

A medical examination right after an accident will pave the way for a thorough documentation of your injuries. With X-rays, test results, and medical reports confirming that you were, indeed, injured during the accident that you figured in, you will have all the proof you need to file a solid personal injury claim. Insurance companies will have a hard time trying to deny your claim, especially if you have a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney negotiating for you.

Getting Medical Examination After An Accident

If you find yourself involved in an accident caused by someone else, there are several options you can take on the way to getting that all-important medical examination.

Was your accident critical enough to cause the arrival of ambulances or fire trucks on the scene? If so, then the medical staff on the responding teams should be able to provide immediate care. They will check you for any injuries and will decide right away if you need to be rushed to the hospital or if you’re just fine.

In case it’s the latter, you should immediately set up an appointment with your primary care physician for a thorough medical examination. In case your doctor isn’t available within an expedited time frame, you can go straight to an urgent care clinic so you can get that much-needed medical exam.

What To Do If You Suffered An Injury

If a medical exam reveals that you have suffered an injury, the doctor who discovered it would recommend treatments and prescribe medications that will help you overcome any challenges it might present over time. You would do well to follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. Purchase medications as prescribed, and undergo the treatments that will help you recover from your injury.

Medications and treatments, of course, can cost a lot of money. Missed wages from not being able to work because of the injury can also exacerbate things for you. Considering that the neglect of someone else caused your injury, you will have every right to file a personal injury claim against that person’s insurance company.

Since you have already undergone a medical exam right after the accident, you have already received recommended solutions to the injury you suffered. With these solutions already in place, the insurance company of the at-fault party won’t have much of a choice but to accept the results of the medical exam as documentary proof and honor your personal injury claim. They will have to base their assessment of the cost and severity of the damages from the accident on the results and recommendations from your medical exam and give you the right amount of compensation.

Don’t make the mistake of skipping a medical exam after an accident. See a medical professional right away.