How Long After an Accident Should You See a Doctor
How long after an accident should you see a doctor depends on the severity of your injuries. Whether your injuries are life-threatening or minor, seeking medical attention from a doctor is critical to your well-being and car accident claim.
If you sustained severe and permanent injuries in an accident caused by another driver, you might be entitled to compensation in Florida. A St. Petersburg car accident lawyer at Emerson Straw can help you gather the medical documentation necessary to support your claim and calculate how much you can receive in compensation.
When to See a Doctor After a Car Accident
Prompt medical attention after an accident is critical in adequately evaluating and treating your injuries. Depending on the severity of your damages, you may need to consult with an emergency room doctor, primary care physician, or medical specialist. Visiting the right practitioner ensures the best outcome for your recovery.
Emergency Room Doctor
If you suffer from severe or life-threatening injuries after a car accident, the emergency room is the best place to receive immediate treatment. Emergency medical doctors specialize in acute health issues and traumatic injuries, including severe burns, major broken bones, trauma, and uncontrollable bleeding.
If you’re having trouble taking deep breaths or your chest and throat feel tight, you should go to the emergency room immediately after a collision. Tell the ER staff what happened so they can record the cause in their medical notes.
After receiving treatment, ask your attending physician and nurses for your medical records when they discharge you from the ER. These documents can detail the diagnoses, examinations, and treatments you received in emergency care and support your compensation claim.
If you have non-life-threatening injuries after a car accident, see your primary care doctor (PCP) as soon as possible after the incident. You can call your PCP to make an appointment for a physical examination or to address minor symptoms after a crash. However, if you can’t get an appointment right away, visit an urgent care center where an on-staff doctor can examine and treat you.
Urgent care centers usually have longer hours, and you can walk in without an appointment. They can treat many injuries, including minor broken bones and cuts requiring stitches, sprains, strains, and bruises.
When you see the doctor, explain how you’re feeling. Mention any painful symptoms you’re experiencing and inform them how your injuries affect your quality of life, such as if back pain makes you unable to pick up items. They will document these effects in your medical records, which your attorney can use to support your claim.
Your primary care doctor might determine you need additional testing and treatment beyond what they can provide. They can refer you to a medical specialist to diagnose or treat your injury. For example, an orthopedic doctor specializing in whiplash can check your symptoms, order diagnostic tests, and develop a treatment plan involving medication, bracing, or a referral to a physical therapist.
A physical therapist provides hot and cold therapies and deep tissue massage treatments. Exercises to perform at home between appointments may be prescribed to keep your neck mobile and help your recovery.
Your attorney can use all medical records from physical therapists or specialists to help you receive medical benefits through your insurance or file for a settlement against the negligent driver.
Types of Injuries Suffered in Car Collisions
Car accidents can cause various injuries, and not all of them are immediately apparent. Some injuries can worsen over time, making it essential to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. These injuries can range from concussions and soft tissue injuries to fractures and spinal cord injuries.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that happens when your head experiences a blow or jolt that causes your brain to move rapidly back and forth. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and memory loss.
The symptoms of a concussion may not be immediately apparent, and you may not feel them until hours or days later. If you suspect you have a concussion, seeking medical attention immediately is vital.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the body’s connective tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries result in bruises, strains, sprains, and whiplash. Some soft tissue injuries might heal on their own with rest and recovery, but surgery may be required if a tendon is torn.
Fractures and Broken Bones
Fractures and broken bones are common injuries in car accidents, especially in high-impact collisions. You need medical care if you notice any signs of a fractured bone, such as a visibly misshapen limb, intense pain, and numbness. You may require extensive treatment, such as surgery and physical therapy.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury can damage a few, many, or almost all the nerve fibers. An almost complete recovery is possible for injuries with little to no nerve damage. However, severe spinal cord injuries can have serious long-term effects, such as paralysis or loss of sensation.
Your treatment may involve realigning your spine using a brace and surgery to remove any bone fragments pressing on your spinal column. To improve quality of life, rehabilitation programs integrate physical therapies with skill-building activities and promote independence.
Facial disfigurement can occur in car accidents due to impact on the steering wheel or dashboard. Injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries like broken bones or permanent scarring.
To address facial scarring, treatment options include reconstructive surgeries such as skin grafts, laser therapy, and surgical excision. Facial disfigurement can lead to emotional trauma, causing poor self-esteem and social interaction. Your attorney will consider these factors when making a car accident claim.
Limb Loss and Amputation
Severe car accidents can result in limb loss or amputation, which may involve surgically removing an arm, leg, finger, toe, or other appendages. A doctor can fit a prosthetic into the area of the missing limb and prescribe rehabilitation and retraining on how to use the prosthetic. This injury can also significantly impact your life, including feelings of depression, guilt, and social isolation.
Why You Should See a Doctor Right Away
Knowing how long after an accident should you see a doctor is essential to getting the medical care you need and proving your injuries for compensation. Seeing a medical professional immediately after your crash is necessary for multiple reasons, including preventing worsening injuries and connecting them directly to the incident.
Statute of Limitations Following an Accident
Prompt medical attention can help you understand the full extent of your injuries and file a lawsuit within Florida’s four-year statute of limitations. This statute allows you to file a personal injury suit against a negligent driver within four years of the date the accident occurred.
You can begin documenting your injuries and building your case with immediate medical care. This allows you to file your claim early on, ensuring you meet the timeframe to file for compensation.
Delaying Treatment for Your Injuries Could Worsen Them and Your Case
Delays can lead to severe medical complications that could have been preventable with early diagnosis and intervention. For example, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have secondary injuries, such as brain bleeding, infections, and seizures. These secondary injuries can emerge days or weeks after the initial impact.
Getting prompt medical assistance after an accident can enhance the possibility of recovery. Surgery for a TBI can treat secondary damage, such as alleviating pressure inside the skull through a special catheter or surgically removing debris and dead brain tissue in cases of penetrating TBI.
Underlying Injuries Remain Hidden Until You Get Medical Care
Some underlying injuries, such as herniated discs, may not show until you receive an examination from your doctor. For instance, the symptoms of herniated discs can vary depending on the position and size of the herniation.
Herniated discs pressing on a nerve can cause pain, numbness, or weakness. However, if the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, you may experience little to no back pain.
Many herniated discs have no symptoms and are only discovered after doctors use advanced imaging. Visiting a doctor can help detect any hidden injuries to offer medical treatments ranging from physical therapy and medications to surgical procedures to remove spinal bones and alleviate pressure.
Delaying Treatment Can Make it Difficult to Relate the Accident to Your Injuries
Insurance companies may argue that the accident didn’t cause your injuries but a pre-existing condition. If too much time has passed before seeking medical treatment, the insurance company may argue that the injuries sustained are not as severe as claimed.
Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident can help establish a clear link between the accident and any injuries sustained. To help you connect your injuries to the accident, seek immediate medical attention after the accident and consult with a lawyer experienced in personal injury cases.
Your lawyer can help gather evidence to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident and can fight for your rights to receive the compensation you deserve.
Can You Recieve Compensation for Medical Bills in a No-Fault State?
Many people are hesitant to seek medical care after a collision due to the high cost of healthcare and the fear of not being reimbursed for their expenses.
Florida has enacted minimum personal injury protection (PIP) insurance requirements for all drivers to ensure that anyone involved in a car crash gets the medical care they need. The state also has liability minimums in place to cover damages for accidents that cause excessive medical costs, lost wages, and psychological harm.
Types Of Medical Services Covered By Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Florida PIP insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages in case of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning drivers must carry PIP insurance of at least $10,000.
Under Florida law, PIP insurance pays the following damages:
- 80% of reasonable medical expenses, including dental, X-ray, surgical, medical, and prosthetic devices, cost within 14 days of the accident
- Initial services or care provided or prescribed by your physician
- Followup medical care and services
- 60% of lost gross income or earning capacity
- $5,000 in death benefits
Filing a Third-Party Claim in Florida
Although Florida is a no-fault state, you can file a third-party claim or personal injury lawsuit if your case meets certain criteria. Florida requires drivers to carry minimum liability insurance coverage of $10,000 for personal injury and $10,000 for property damage. If your injuries exceed your PIP coverage limit, you may be able to file against the at-fault driver to recover additional damages.
However, Florida has a serious injury threshold, meaning you must have a significant and permanent injury to file a lawsuit for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Working with a skilled attorney from Emerson Straw can help you understand your options for receiving compensation after a collision. We can ensure you receive PIP benefits under your policy and determine if your injuries meet the threshold to file against the negligent driver’s insurance. We will calculate your damages and help you seek maximum compensation to help you pay for your accident-related expenses.
Speak With a Car Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible After a Crash
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, speak with our attorneys at Emerson Straw. Our team is dedicated to helping car accident victims get the financial compensation they deserve.
We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a car accident can take. Our attorneys will help you navigate the claims process by reviewing your medical records to estimate your damages accurately. This includes medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation services, home devices, and attendant care.
Your lawyer will also calculate non-economic damages from your injuries, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, or loss of enjoyment of life, to include in your settlement.
Our law firm has a track record of success handling car accident cases, including a $420,000 settlement for a rear-end collision accident. We are committed to helping you receive maximum compensation for your damages.
Once you have addressed your medical needs, your next call should be to an experienced car accident lawyer. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.