Why You May Want to See a Doctor After a Vehicle Crash

Your pulse quickens. Your vision narrows. Your energy levels spike due to an increase of adrenaline…You've just been involved in a vehicle crash and this is your body's response. We have a visceral reaction to crashes, which pushes all the biological buttons that some scientists refer to as our fight-or-flight instincts. It is a disorienting yet heightened state that triggers a flood of responses, some of which a person may not be fully aware of.

The complex reaction of your own body to traumatic events like vehicle crashes are nature's way of helping you cope and survive the ordeal, but it could also mask deeper problems or injuries you have suffered. After a crash, you might not realize just how seriously you're injured. It is always in your best interest - regardless of how minor the crash might be - to seek immediate medical attention.

Here's why...

Not All Injuries are Obvious

Broken bones or severe cuts might be apparent after a crash, but other injuries will be much more difficult to detect. Paramedics are trained to identify signs of other "hidden" injuries, though even the trained eye might not be able to spot some internal injuries. These injuries include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries - A sudden jolt or blow to the head can cause a serious brain injury, an injury that is often tough to spot in the wake of an automobile crash. Symptoms include confusion, blurred vision, memory loss and dizziness.
  • Internal Organ Damage - While external wounds are easily detected, internal damage may be less apparent. These injuries are extremely dangerous, causing serious health complications or death. Look for symptoms like bruising or dull, painful sensations.
  • Soft-Tissue Damage - Tendons, ligaments and muscles might be strained, sprained, torn or bruised in a crash. These injuries might also be less apparent than other injuries, though they can have equally painful and long-lasting consequences. If you have even mild pains or difficulty moving your limbs, head or shoulder, it could indicate a soft-tissue injury.

Adrenaline or Shock Could Be Masking Injuries

The fight-or-flight mode that we enter after a crash can limit the pain we feel and mask serious injuries. As tempting as it might be to say that you feel fine, you should always be as thorough as possible to ensure you are not seriously injured. The adrenaline and endorphins released in the body following a traumatic event can cause a state of shock, so don't rely solely on your instincts to determine whether you are hurt.

You Should Protect Yourself Legally

Symptoms of serious injuries may take several days or even weeks to manifest. Never take that fact for granted when you are involved in a crash. Insurance companies will use your actions and words against you, so always err on the side of caution to protect yourself legally. By declining medical attention, you could open yourself up to serious financial consequences of an injury. What you do and say might make a big difference in the compensation you receive if you file a claim.

Closely monitor your health in the days, weeks and months after a vehicle crash. As your fight-or-flight impulses subside, you might notice pain and physical restrictions in movement, which could indicate a serious injury. Pay close attention to any emotional or mental changes you experience that might indicate trauma.

You can never be too careful or thorough when it comes to your health. Look for signs of injuries, make notes or keep a journal about the pains you feel, and keep records of medical reports, bills and medicines you take. These steps might end up sparing you from further complications - physical, emotional and financial - further down the road.

Be Smart

If the other driver has acknowledged responsibility or liability, such as in a rear-end case, you may want to use your SmartPhone to have them record that. You should also take pictures and video if you are able. Make sure that your car is not moved until the police and first responders are present. If you have any physical injuries whatsoever, let the first responders check you out, and do not hesitate to go to the emergency room. Do not get into a fight or altercation with the other driver, the police, first responders or others at the scene. You may be very upset by what occurred, but be moderate in what you say and who you say it to. Cooperate with the police during an investigation. Call us right away.

Negotiating With Adjustors

Never negotiate with the insurance company, whether yours or the other side's. Typically, in Pennsylvania you will have coverage through your first party bodily injury portion of your policy, but that may be used up very quickly. You then may have other insurance which kicks in. It is very important to make sure that you have underinsurance or uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsurance is very important if the negligent party does not have sufficient coverage.

Insurance law in Pennsylvania is extremely complicated. Do not rely upon your instinct, what a friend tells you, or something you read on the internet. Call us!

Sign-Downs and Waivers

Many people execute sign-downs and waivers so that they do not have sufficient insurance coverage themselves. Many times your own policy will kick in if the negligent party does not have sufficient coverage.

Cliff Rieders wrote the book on Financial Responsibility Law in Pennsylvania. The Financial Responsibility Law governs insurance in connection with automobile and truck accidents in Pennsylvania. Cliff's book is available through Amazon.com. While it is written for professionals, you certainly are free to purchase it or take a look at it.

Remember, Cliff Rieders wrote the book, lectures on important legal topics, and is a Board Certified trial lawyer in Pennsylvania.

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