According to the Association for Safe Road Travel, close to a million and a half people a year are injured in car accidents in the United States. After a car crash, it’s a tremendous relief to realize that you are all in one piece with no catastrophic injuries. If it was a large impact, and parts of your body made contact with the inside of the car, it’s wise to consider that you may have injuries that were not obvious at first. If you have a family personal injury attorney, it’s a good idea to call them for advice on whether you should go to the hospital, how to handle your property damage, the evidence you should get from the scene so that you can protect your rights, should you need to bring a claim. If you are suffering from hidden injuries after a car accident, it’s always worth it to get legal advice as well as medical treatment.
SHOULD I GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM?
Everybody has something better to do than sit for hours in an emergency room, but before you decline the police officer’s offer of an ambulance, be sure that you have not been injured at all. If you sustained trauma, especially to your head or abdomen, the extent of the injury may not be obvious right away. If you have a concussion there are protocols that need to be in place to prevent comas or even death. If you experienced abdominal trauma, even it was from the seatbelt or airbag, you may have internal bleeding that only a medical exam can diagnose. If the accident was a “fender bender” and nobody was hurt, by all means, go home, but don’t go home with undiagnosed traumatic injuries that could be life-threatening.
SHOULD I GO TO AN URGENT CARE CENTER?
If you went home after the accident, instead of going to the Emergency Room, and are not feeling well, the next best step is to go to one of the many Urgent Care Centers our City has to offer. Be sure to tell them that you were in a car accident, so they can charge the proper insurance and properly document your chart. They will be able to take x-rays and other tests, and will send you to a hospital if they diagnose a condition they cannot treat at the center.
SHOULD I GET DIAGNOSTIC TESTING
Cases involving injuries to the back are difficult to objectify, that why it’s important to follow-up with any diagnostic testing that your doctor orders. MRI’s can diagnose serious bank injuries such as herniated and bulging discs, which can be used as objective evidence that your back injury is serious.
HOW MUCH THERAPY DO I NEED TO GET?
That’s a question for a doctor, not a car accident injury lawyer. Obviously, getting more treatment makes your case stronger, but if you didn’t go to the hospital or urgent care, and you didn’t get any diagnostic testing, going to therapy will not be enough evidence to prove that your injury is serious?
SHOULD I STAY OUT OF WORK?
You should only stay out of work if your back pain is so severe that you cannot work. If you just have a minor whiplash injury, and you are not getting treatment, staying out of work hoping to “make money” on a lawsuit is a bad idea. Reputable accident lawyers should will not encourage you to do this.
HIDDEN INJURIES CAN MAY CAUSE PROBLEMS AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
If you wake up the day after a car accident with severe back or neck pain, you may have a herniated disc. If you went to the emergency room or urgent care, the X-rays they took might have shown no fractures, but serious soft-tissue do not show up on X-rays. Sometimes it can take even longer for the severity of the injury to become problematic, starting with a small ache and getting worse with attempts to continue with normal daily activities. This injury can easily be diagnosed with an MRI. Herniated discs occur when the force of an impact causes the material inside the disc to spill out or rupture. This injury can cause substantial pain as the herniation can put inflame nerves near the spine. Sometimes there is pain radiating to other parts of the body. Herniated discs can usually be treated without chiropractor adjustments and physical therapy. Surgery is rarely necessary, but long-term disability is possible.
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES
If your head hits something inside the car, this can cause a traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion. What might start out as a mild headache, worsens as time goes on. Sometimes, days or weeks later, changes in memory function or personality may arise. That’s why anybody that has a head injury from a car accident should always get follow-up treatment as soon as possible. A neurologist will often order an MRI of the brain to rule out any serious damage. If you have headaches since your car accidents, and they are getting worse, see a doctor.
If you experienced direct trauma to your knee, your pain may increase over time or may not arise until hours or even days after the car accident. Sometimes what seems like a minor injury, does not go away, and gets worse over time. Once again, the negative X-rays reported by the Emergency Room or an Urgent Care Center did not rule an injury, they only ruled out a fracture or dislocation. An MRI might reveal there is a serious soft-tissue injury, such as a torn meniscus. Physical therapy is usually ordered, but sometimes surgery is necessary to repair the tear.
Shoulder injury are common motor vehicle accident injury that may not show up right away. Many personal injury cases involve injuries to the shoulder that are diagnosed weeks after the accident. The viability of the case will still hinge on complaints of shoulder pain within a short a time as possible after the accident, and objective testing that shows a serious injury. An MRI can diagnose a torn rotator cuff and other serious soft-tissue injuries of the shoulder. Physical therapy, also referred to as “conservative treatment,” is usually attempted before surgery is considered.
Sometimes people notice that after an accident, they become extremely skittish crossing streets and can’t drive. It’s not that uncommon for a person to be so traumatized that they can’t even be a passenger in a car or bus. This can happen in conjunction with physical injuries, or on it’s own. When this condition is severe is can be diagnosed at post-traumatic stress disorder, and require treatment with a psychologist for many years.
HOW SHOULD I FOLLOW UP?
If you or a family member realizes they are injured some time after an accident, it’s always worth it to see if legal representation would be appropriate based on all the facts. Soft-tissue injuries that are detected later may still meet the law’s “serious injury” requirement. Call Wittenstein & Wittenstein for a free consultation at 718-261-8114