Every year, approximately 117,000 people are injured in Georgia car accidents. Some take themselves to emergency rooms while others are transported to a hospital in an ambulance. There are a few who think they were not hurt, only to later develop some aches and pains which turn out to be serious injuries caused by the accident. No matter which category you are in, your first visit with a medical professional is very important, not only for your overall health, but also to support a later claim for damages.
Importance of a First Visit Following an Accident
At your first visit after the car accident, be sure you report to the doctor all your aches and pains, no matter how miniscule they may seem to you at the time. Your back may ache so badly that you forget to mention your sore thumb that was sprained or broken during the accident. The doctor, especially one familiar with working with patients injured in accidents, should know what questions to ask you to discover injuries that you may not have even noticed. If you are treated in an emergency room, it is vital that you comply with the recommendations for follow-up care with your personal physician.
If your first doctor visit is a day or two following the accident, report all symptoms, each and every ache and pain, to the doctor. The examination may reveal sore spots or sprains you were not initially aware of. The doctor will also be able to tell you what symptoms to watch for that may appear later.
When You Think You Were Not Injured
If you were in a car accident and just got up and walked away, even if others seemed to be seriously hurt, you may feel lucky and just go home to rest. You still need to be checked out by a medical professional.
An example of what not to do:
You are involved in a car accident, and it’s not your fault. You think you feel “fine” and decide not to go to the hospital or an urgent care. You wake up the next day, feeling “fine”, and decide not to go to a doctor or chiropractor. After a few more day or weeks, you begin to feel pain in your neck and lower back; but you didn’t do anything to hurt yourself. Finally, you go to see a doctor who diagnoses you with multiple soft tissue injuries that were apparently caused by the accident. You decide to submit a claim for compensation to the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, you may have jeopardized your case by waiting so long to seek medical treatment.
There are many types of injuries that do not show up for hours, days or weeks after an accident. For example:
- Neck, back or shoulder pain caused by whiplash. Whiplash injuries occur when your body is suddenly thrown back and forth due to the impact of hitting or being hit.
- Back pain due to injuries to the muscles, ligaments or nerves.
- Numbness in arms and hands are also symptoms of whiplash.
- Headaches, impaired thinking, vision or hearing problems indicative of a brain injury.
The Importance of Complete Medical Records
Following the submission of your personal injury claim, your medical records will be reviewed by the at-fault party’s insurance company. Although you generally can trust your doctor to make a complete record, it is also a good idea for you to ask to review the record yourself to be sure that nothing you said or reported was left out.
The Insurance Company’s 72-Hour Rule
Insurance companies now use software programs to assist them in placing a value on a personal injury claim. If you received medical care within 72 hours of your injury, a value is added to your claim. If you waited longer than that, a value is deducted from your claim. The insurance company will ask you something like, “If you were really hurt so badly, why did you wait so long to go to the doctor?” Although a skilled personal injury attorney may be able to overcome this hurdle, the delay in seeking medical treatment can result in a reduction in the amount you are eventually able to collect for your damages.
Seek Legal Representation
If you were injured in a Georgia crash, whether or not you were immediately treated for your injuries or waited until your injuries seemed to you to be more serious, contact Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant. We offer a free and confidential case evaluation. We recognize that each case is unique. We will discuss with you your needs and goals and determine the best way for us to proceed.