Getting into a car accident is always an unpleasant experience. Even when you are involved in a relatively minor crash, you have to exchange information with the other driver, deal with insurance companies, and shop around for a mechanic that won’t charge you an arm and a leg for repairs — after all, those deductibles can be hefty.
You may be feeling fortunate if, at first, it seems you didn’t experience any physical injuries. But, what happens if you start feeling pain a few days later? Could it be a delayed symptom arising out of the accident? And if so, what can you do to get your medical testing and treatment covered?
Delayed Symptoms After a Car Accident
It is actually very common to experience injuries during a minor car accident. Yet, it is also usual for people not to find out until much later. This could be due to several factors.
When you’re involved in a car accident — or any type of dangerous scenario — your body releases hormones from your adrenal glands called adrenaline. This increases blood flow to the brain and muscles, making you more alert and causing you to act on instinct. It’s part of your body’s fight or flight response. While it’s useful to get out of precarious or life-threatening situations, it can also numb you to physical pain. As a result, you may not be aware that you are injured.
2. Back & Neck Injuries
If the impact from the accident affected your spinal cord, you’ll immediately notice tingling, numbness, and possibly the loss of bladder control. However, if the injury resulted in whiplash, spondylolisthesis, or herniated discs, you may not even notice at the beginning. Yet, all of them could develop into painful complications, such as nerve damage, chronic pain, and permanent damage. The only way to find out if any of these apply to you is to get imaging done soon after the accident.
3. Internal Injuries
It could take several days for internal bleeding to manifest as symptoms of an injury. You may suddenly notice deep bruising, dizziness, confusion, blurry vision, blood in your stools, shortness of breath, weakness, and/or chronic headaches — and not make the connection that it stems from your car accident a week ago. In addition to seeking treatment for these types of injuries, it’s crucial to tend to them as soon as possible to prevent complications, such as seizures or organ failure.
4. Aggravated Condition
Let’s say you’ve always had chronic back pain. You’re used to it. Simple tasks like getting out of bed and lifting a small package can cause it to flare up. However, a car accident — even a minor one — could worsen your condition. You could now have whiplash, herniated discs, or nerve damage. The only way to know for sure if you have a recent injury stemming from the crash is to seek medical attention. And yes, even if you had a pre-existing condition – if it became aggravated due to the accident – the driver who caused the accident could be held responsible for it. This is called the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule.
5. Psychological Effects
Some injuries are obvious from the outset. These include acute damage, such as broken skin or bones, bruising, or experiencing physical pain. Others — such as behavioral changes or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — could take longer to manifest. Maybe you feel physically fine today, but down the line, you start experiencing impaired memory, flashbacks, mood swings, anxiety, or depression. These are all signs of psychological trauma.
How long do you have to go to the doctor after a car accident in Florida?
Waiting too long to see a doctor after a car accident has several adverse ramifications. The longer you wait, the more likely it is for your injuries to worsen — extending your discomfort, time off work, and medical bills. It also makes it easier for the other driver’s insurance company to try to look for other reasons to explain your injuries. For example, if you are an athlete, do manual labor, like to work out, or even simple things like carrying your kids or groceries can all be blamed for back problems. Finally, Florida law establishes that for you to obtain coverage for certain benefits — Personal Injury Protection (PIP), for example — you have to file your claim within 14 days from the date of the accident. Calling after this time period will result in your claim being denied.
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Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.