Should I Go to the Hospital After a Car Accident?
Per the NHTSA, in 2016 there were 3.144 million injuries and 323,128 fatalities resulting from car accidents. Not every car accident results in injuries, but there’s always the chance. Statistics find that accident rates in rural and urban areas are just about even. You can drive defensively, but there’s always that small chance you’ll be in an accident when you head out for work, school, shopping, or social activities.
If you are in an accident, what do you do? One decision that’s hard to make is whether or not you should go to the hospital. This decision is easy if you are unconscious, are bleeding, have broken bones, or have a spinal injury. People don’t want to get stuck with expensive emergency room and hospital bills if they feel okay. Should you go even if you’re feeling okay? You should and here’s why.
Symptoms of Some Injuries Don’t Appear Immediately
Your physical health is important. You can’t take chances. Some injuries take time to appear. While many injuries with internal bleeding take just minutes to become noticeable, there are cases where the bleeding is slow. In those cases, it can take hours for the signs to appear. If you’re 30 minutes from a hospital when you realize something’s wrong, it can become a life or death situation.
You may feel fine, but you hit your head. A concussion can be dangerous. Symptoms may not show up for hours or even days. It’s always best to get checked out and make sure you don’t have a concussion. If a doctor clears you to leave the hospital, you’ll likely be told to have someone stay with you for the next day or two. If you have any of the following symptoms, it can be a sign of brain injury.
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
- Excessively sleepy
- Severe headache
- Slurred, unusual speech
- Vision changes
Whiplash also takes some time to appear following a car accident. In many accidents, the force of the collision forces the head forward and back in a rush. That rapid motion strains the bones and discs in the spine and neck. It’s most common in a car accident where you’re hit from behind, but it can happen in any accident where the head is thrown backward then forward.
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Arm, neck, shoulder, and upper back pain
- Numbness and/or tingling in the arms
- Stiffness in the neck
These symptoms may not appear right after the accident. When the shock has adrenaline racing, it can mask pain. As that adrenaline wears off, the pain becomes noticeable. It may take hours or days before you realize the pain is not normal.
You Avoid Jeopardizing Future Claims
Weeks after the accident when you get the settlement offer from the auto insurance company, you find that it’s just not enough. You missed more work than they’ve accounted for. You might still not be able to return to work. If that happens, how you acted after the accident can impact your claim.
If you didn’t go to the hospital until days or weeks later, the insurance company’s adjuster may argue that the injuries happened after the accident and not during. What proof do you have to assure the judge and jury that the injuries were linked only to the accident? It’s hard to do when you don’t have a paper trail linking back to that day.
Your injuries may be viewed as minor since you didn’t go to the hospital. If you can’t prove the accident truly caused your injuries, you may find the offer doesn’t cover medical bills, loss of income due to your injuries, or physical therapy that’s needed during your recovery. You don’t want your actions to cause you financial strain. By going to the hospital, the medical records are there from the moment of the accident.
It’s always best to go to the hospital immediately after a car accident. Remember that auto insurance covers medical costs. It’s better to get checked out by a doctor and told you’re fine than to learn too late that you have serious injuries. When you return home, call your insurance company and start filing the claim.
It’s best to talk to a personal injury attorney once you have the settlement offer. A car accident lawyer offers free consultations and honest advice. You’ll know if you have a fair offer or if it’s too low. At Carpenter & Zuckerman, you don’t pay a penny unless the attorney wins a settlement for you. Call 1-888-CZR-FIRST to schedule a free consultation.
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