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Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident Even If I’m Not Hurt?

Car accidents often leave individuals shaken and disoriented. While some injuries may immediately appear, others may not manifest symptoms until days or weeks later.

This leads to an important question: Should you see a doctor after a car accident, even if you don’t feel hurt?

Yes.

Seek medical attention whether you experience immediate pain or injuries. Prioritize your health and well-being. A prompt medical evaluation after a motor vehicle accident can provide valuable insights into your condition and help support your legal claim.

In addition to seeking medical care, speak to a reputable car accident attorney to learn more about your rights and compensation potential.

Why You Should See a Doctor After a Car Accident

Hidden Injuries and Delayed Symptoms

Car accidents subject the body to sudden, extreme forces that can result in many hidden injuries. Even if you don’t feel hurt immediately after the accident, it’s essential to remember that some injuries have delayed symptoms.

Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident Even If I'm Not Hurt

Conditions like whiplash, concussions, and internal injuries may take time to surface. Seeking medical attention promptly allows healthcare professionals to evaluate your condition, conduct necessary tests, and identify hidden injuries before they worsen. Many medical conditions make the outcome much better when diagnosed and treated sooner.

Establishing a Medical Record

Seeking medical attention after a car accident helps establish a medical record of your condition. This record is vital for insurance claims and any potential legal proceedings.

By documenting your injuries and symptoms, you create a timeline of events and provide evidence of the accident’s impact on your health. A well-documented medical record strengthens your case if you decide to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, or pain and suffering.

Suppose you wait to seek medical care and have your injuries documented. In that case, the other party’s insurance company may argue that your injuries are the result of the car accident but rather something else that happened after the accident. Seeking medical care right after a car accident provides the best chance of maximum compensation for your injuries.

Early Detection of Underlying Issues

A comprehensive medical evaluation after a car accident can detect underlying health issues the collision may have aggravated or triggered.

For instance, individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis or spinal problems, may experience exacerbated symptoms. Identifying these underlying issues early on allows for appropriate treatment and management, preventing future further complications.

While the insurance company and their attorney may try to escape liability for your injuries when you have a pre-existing injury or condition, thanks to the eggshell skull doctrine (see below), they can’t.

Emotional and Psychological Impact

Car accidents cause physical injuries and have a profound emotional and psychological impact. Experiencing a traumatic event like a car accident can lead to conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression.

These mental health concerns may not immediately appear but can significantly affect your overall well-being. Seeking medical attention ensures that you address both your physical and psychological health, allowing for appropriate support and treatment if necessary.

Legal and Insurance Considerations

From a legal and insurance perspective, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial. Insurance companies often require proof of injuries and medical treatment to process claims.

By delaying medical evaluation, you may encounter challenges when seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages. Additionally, if you decide to pursue legal action, a well-documented medical record will be essential in establishing the link between the accident and your injuries, strengthening your case.

Even if you don’t feel hurt, seeking medical attention after a car accident is crucial in protecting your health and well-being. Hidden injuries, delayed symptoms, and the potential for underlying health issues make it imperative to undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation.

Additionally, establishing a medical record strengthens your insurance claims and legal proceedings, if necessary. Remember, always make your health and safety the top priority. By promptly seeking medical attention after a car accident, you properly diagnose and treat any injuries or conditions, allowing for a smoother recovery process and maximizing the potential compensation for your damages.

What is the Eggshell Skull Doctrine?

The eggshell skull doctrine Doctrine, also known as the eggshell plaintiff rule, is a legal principle that applies in personal injury cases. Under this legal framework, the at-fault party or defendant must pay for the full extent of the harm caused to the plaintiff (the injured party), even if the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition or vulnerability that made them more susceptible to injury.

The doctrine gets its name from the analogy of a person with an eggshell skull. Suppose someone has an exceptionally fragile skull, and another person negligently causes harm to them, resulting in a severe injury or even death.

In that case, the defendant can’t argue that the plaintiff’s condition made them more prone to suffering harm in the accident. Instead, the defendant must take the victim as they find them, regardless of any pre-existing weaknesses.

The eggshell skull doctrine arises from the principle that defendants should be responsible for the consequences of their negligent actions, even if they are more severe due to the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition. It protects injured individuals with pre-existing vulnerabilities or conditions from being unfairly disadvantaged or denied compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others.

Under this doctrine, defendants can’t use the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition as a defense or to decrease their liability. Before the incident, they must take responsibility for the harm caused, regardless of the plaintiff’s physical or mental condition.

It is worth noting that the eggshell skull doctrine applies to all types of personal injuries, not just head injuries. It recognizes that defendants should be accountable for the harm they cause, even if the extent of the harm is greater due to the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition.

Overall, the eggshell skull doctrine ensures that individuals who suffer harm due to someone else’s negligence are not unfairly penalized or denied compensation simply because they have a pre-existing vulnerability or condition. It upholds the principle that defendants must take their victims as they find them, regardless of pre-existing conditions or weaknesses.

Who Pays for Your Medical Care After a Car Accident?

Determining who pays for your medical care after a car accident depends on several factors, including the jurisdiction where the accident occurred, the insurance coverage involved, and the circumstances of the accident.

Here are some common scenarios for payments:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance: No-fault insurance states like Michigan and Florida make PIP coverage mandatory. PIP insurance typically covers medical expenses and related costs, regardless of who is at fault. If you have PIP coverage, your insurance company will pay for your medical care up to the policy limit, regardless of who caused the accident.
  • Health insurance: If you have health insurance coverage, it may cover your medical expenses resulting from a car accident. Your health insurance provider should be responsible for paying the medical bills, subject to any deductibles, co-pays, or coverage limitations specified in your policy.
  • Medical payments coverage (MedPay): Some auto insurance policies include optional MedPay coverage. MedPay covers medical expenses resulting from a car accident, regardless of fault. If you have MedPay coverage, you can use it to pay for your medical care.
  • Third-party liability insurance: If another driver was at fault in the accident, their liability insurance may cover your medical expenses. The at-fault driver’s insurance company should compensate you for your medical bills up to the policy limit.
  • Lawsuit or settlement: In cases where someone else’s negligence caused the accident, you may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit or negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If successful, you may receive compensation for your medical expenses as part of the settlement or through a court judgment.

Insurance policies’ specific details and coverage limits can vary. Review your insurance policy with an attorney to understand the specific coverage and options available to you in your situation.

Additionally, keep thorough records of all medical expenses, including hospital bills, doctor’s visits, medications, and rehabilitation costs. You need these records for insurance claims, negotiations, or any legal proceedings related to the accident.

Promptly report the accident to your insurance company and follow their instructions regarding medical care and claim filing procedures.

Common Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries

It doesn’t take a severe car accident to cause serious injuries. Sometimes even a seemingly minor fender bender can lead to severe and debilitating injuries.

Car accident victims can suffer a wide range of injuries, but the most common ones include:

  • Whiplash: Car accidents can cause the body to move suddenly, faster than you move your body on your own. When this happens, the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck and surrounding area can become strained and suffer damage. Whiplash can be painful, limit mobility, and take several weeks or months to heal.
  • Broken bones: Bones are tough, but they can’t always withstand the extreme forces of a car accident. In car accidents, breaking your legs, pelvis, arms, knees, ribs, collarbone, ankles, and even vertebra is common. Fractured bones usually require stabilization with a cast, brace, or sling. Some may need surgery or physical therapy to return to their pre-accident state. Broken bones can also be very painful, and some can become infected, causing significant complications.
  • Burns: Sometimes, motor vehicle accidents result in fires. These fires can cause severe burns to those who don’t get out of the vehicle on time. Severe burns may require skin grafts, weeks or even months of hospitalization, and multiple surgeries. Burns can be excruciating and lead to scarring and disfigurement. They may also impact the future function of the affected body area.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): A TBI is one of the most severe types of injuries that can result from a car accident. Some are merely minor concussions that may have mild symptoms and require a few days of rest to recover. Other TBIs can alter the victim’s life forever—accompanied by medical problems such as seizures and cognitive dysfunctions and the need for medical or supportive care around the clock. Many with a TBI experience personality changes and depression.
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCI): Another potentially severe or even fatal type of injury is an SCI. Depending upon the severity and location of the SCI, the injured individual may experience temporary or permanent paraplegia or quadriplegia. They may also need around-the-clock medical or supportive care. If they become permanently paralyzed, these injuries are life-altering and lead to a decreased overall lifespan. They might never return to work or care for their families. They are also at an increased risk for other medical problems.
  • Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding might not present right away, although it can kill you. This is one reason to seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): People might not discuss it often, but car accidents can leave victims with mental and emotional injuries in addition to their physical injuries. PTSD, depression, and anxiety are usually common after car accidents, especially traumatic ones. Those that suffer from these conditions need to seek an accurate diagnosis and treatment just as they will for their physical injuries.

Involved in a Recent Car Accident? See a Doctor and Call an Attorney

After a car accident, take two crucial steps to protect your well-being and legal rights. First, seek medical attention even if you don’t have symptoms or believe you aren’t injured. Even though it might seem like a waste of time, you will do yourself a favor.

Next, meet with an experienced personal injury attorney. Tell them about your accident and any injuries you face to determine your next steps. If the attorney believes you should pursue a legal claim, they can help you navigate the process so that you aren’t on your own.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Included in TOP 40 Under 40 by The National TRIAL Lawyers in Centennial CO Varner Faddis Top Lawyers Denver Badge – 5280 Magazine American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorney Top 40 Under 40 5280 Denver Top Lawyers
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