Sometimes accidents are so severe that they leave car accident victims with no choice: They are simply taken to the hospital without having to make the decision for themselves. Most of the time, however, accident victims are left with a serious decision to make. Should they put the accident behind them and proceed as normal? Or should they take responsibility for their health by seeking medical care, thereby undertaking potentially thousands of dollars in bills?
As experienced attorneys who have guided countless clients through the aftermath of accidents, we will tell you without hesitation that seeing a doctor is critical. There are many reasons to do so—and not all of them are obvious.
1. Not all injuries show up at the scene.
Many serious injuries simply are not apparent at the scene of an accident. Head injuries are a common example. Many people who have experienced a head injury feel just fine at first. Only as the adrenaline wears off do they begin to experience the first symptoms of a serious concussion.
If you go to the doctor—even if you feel fine—your doctor will perform an examination. He or she will examine the size of your pupils, for example, looking for obvious signs of a head injury. Your doctor may also order tests such as an X-ray or CT scan. These tests can pinpoint serious problems so that your doctor can help put you on the path to recovery.
2. There is often a narrow window for effective treatment.
Going to the doctor as soon as possible is also important because, for many medical problems, there is an optimal window of time during which to begin treatment. After this time, conditions may be harder to treat, and treatment methods may be less effective. Additionally, you may risk injuring yourself further just by going about regular daily activities.
3. A “delay in treatment” can reduce the amount of compensation you receive, if you choose to file a claim.
If you wait more than 72 hours to visit the doctor after an accident, insurance companies might label your hesitation as a “delay in treatment.” They may take it as a sign that you weren’t as injured as you claim. After all, they reason, if you were really hurt wouldn’t you have needed medical care right away? Due to your delay, insurance adjusters will try to get you to settle for less compensation than you deserve.
4. There is a good chance the visit will be covered by insurance.
Minnesota is a no-fault state when it comes to insurance claims after a car accident. Drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) on their insurance policies. Basic PIP coverage pays up to $20,000 of your own medical costs after an accident.
This means that your own car insurance will likely cover the cost of your medical care after an accident, so you don’t have to worry about your health insurance plan’s high deductible, or whether a provider is in-network or out-of-network. You can simply seek the care you need.
5. Getting checked out is the right thing to do.
The truth is that you could have the best of everything in the world. But, without your health, none of it would matter.
It’s also likely that you have people who depend on you: your spouse, children, friends and coworkers. You owe it to them to take responsibility for your own health, making sure that you can still continue to be there for them.
After a car accident, or any other personal injury accident, it’s possible that small aches and pains could go away on their own. But why take that chance? You owe it to yourself and to the people who love you to get checked out.