In a car accident? Make sure to follow up with proper medical treatment
In Illinois, there were 91,675 injuries from car accidents in 2015, according to Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics from that year. That number represents nearly one-third of the 313,316 crashes reported in 2015.
What our Chicago car accident attorneys find alarming is that in many crashes involving injury, victims fail to follow up with proper medical treatment.
Why? One phenomenon is the “adrenaline effect.” Car accidents sometimes can deceive crash victims into thinking they’re OK when they might have serious injuries that demand treatment.
The stress of a crash can release adrenaline in a victim. This “fight or flight” hormone typically causes your heart to race and might lead to a decrease in the ability to feel pain. Just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you should avoid medical attention. You might have a serious or even life-threatening injury. That’s why it’s critical to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Too often, victims who feel fine in the moments after an accident start to feel the pain hours later. In some cases involving head injuries, a victim might feel OK at first, but actually might have bruising of the brain or a hemorrhage (bleeding) that could become fatal if left untreated.
But the adrenaline effect is not the only reason why accident victims sometimes fail to get proper medical follow-up after the incident. Sometimes it’s a dislike of seeking medical treatment. In other cases, victims say they’re too busy to see their doctor, or they might visit the doctor after the accident but decide they don’t have time for follow-up appointments.
Whatever the reason victims might have for avoiding immediate or long-term medical treatment, they are potentially putting themselves at risk in more ways than one. Failing to seek proper medical treatment after an accident could have serious consequences on your health and your insurance claim.
Insurance adjusters will comb through your medical record. They will try to find any reason to deny or delay the claim or reduce compensation. When your attorney is trying to negotiate a settlement or arguing in court on your behalf, the insurance company’s lawyer might question whether you were really injured if they find gaps in your medical treatment. The insurance company will notice if you delayed getting any treatment after the accident – and they may be unlikely to agree to pay damages for pain and suffering. You might get less than the full value of your claim.
What to do after a car accident?
We recommend that anyone involved in a car accident get checked out by a doctor, even if you think the crash was minor and you feel fine. Don’t diagnose yourself. Your doctor is in the best position to determine whether you really are injured. It’s possible your doctor might conclude you are not injured. He or she may offer advice on what types of symptoms or red flags to watch out for that could signal that you have an injury.
It’s critically important to follow the doctor’s orders if you are injured. Don’t avoid follow-up appointments or ignore taking medication prescribed by your doctor. You need to get better; you need to make sure you don’t give the insurance company any reason to reduce your claim.
If you or a loved one is in a car accident, seek medical attention and be sure to contact an experienced attorney. Call Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 or complete our free case consultation form.