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How Long Do You Have to See a Doctor After an Auto Accident?

May 23, 2022Car Accidents

After a car accident, it is critical to seek medical care as soon as possible. Whether that means after leaving the scene, later that day, or within a few days, the sooner the better. Most insurance companies consider 72 hours to be a reasonable amount of time to have seen a doctor. The longer you wait after that, the more challenging it will be to recover full compensation.

When Do You Need to See a Doctor After an Auto Accident?

A thorough evaluation by a doctor should be completed after any auto accident. The reason is that adrenaline will typically be pumping through your body, so you might not immediately feel pain. As a result, your injuries may not be apparent, and it can take several days or even weeks after a crash to understand the full extent of your injuries. In addition, some severe injuries can have delayed symptoms. For example, delayed neck injury symptoms often mean whiplash, a persistent headache can signal a traumatic brain injury, abdominal pain could indicate internal bleeding, etc. Without treatment, these injuries can lead to further complications and, in some situations, are fatal.

Suppose you fail to see a doctor within a reasonable amount of time after an accident, and you end up having delayed symptoms and a severe injury. In that case, the insurance company may argue that your injuries are not related to the accident. Without medical records from soon after the collision, it will be harder to prove a link between your injuries and the crash.

Common Delayed Injury Symptoms

Here are a few of the common delayed symptoms that car accident victims experience which may signal a severe injury:

Pain and Stiffness in the Neck or Shoulder
Delayed neck pain is often a warning sign of whiplash but could also mean a herniated disc or spinal injury. You may need an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to diagnose it.

Headaches
A constant headache can mean a serious problem, such as a concussion, a more severe brain injury, or a blood clot.

Changes in Behavior
Any changes to a car accident victim’s personality or physical functions can also be a sign of a traumatic brain injury. For example, depression, insomnia, fatigue, changes in mood, memory problems, a different sense of smell and/or taste, or light sensitivity.

Back Pain
Many injuries can have delayed back pain, such as a pinched nerve, spinal cord injury, herniated disc, or whiplash.

Numbness and Tingling
Pain, numbness, or tingling in your extremities can mean nerve damage, which may be caused by whiplash, damage to the neck or spinal column, among others.

Abdominal Pain or Swelling
These symptoms, as well as purple bruising, dizzy spells, or fainting, can indicate internal bleeding. These injuries can be very serious and even fatal in some cases.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD and other psychological conditions can be triggered by a severe car accident, which may take weeks or months to manifest symptoms.

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