How Long Do I Have to Go to the Doctor After an Auto Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an auto accident, chances are high that you may be feeling overwhelmed. A sudden accident can be shocking and unsettling. You may find yourself faced with injuries that might require extensive medical treatment, prevent you from returning to work, and otherwise throw your life into unexpected chaos. Understandably, if you find yourself in this situation, you may have many questions. One question we often receive regarding auto accidents concerns the medical treatment that victims seek and receive after an accident occurs. Many victims of auto accidents want to know: How long do I have to seek medical treatment? When should I seek medical treatment to best protect my health and my legal rights? These are important and valid questions, and ones well worth considering.

Ensuring Your Health and Well-Being

There are many reasons why you will want to seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident. First and most importantly, of course, is to ensure your own well-being. Often, when people find themselves the victims of a sudden auto accident, it can be overwhelming and startling. Depending upon the severity of the accident, you may even find yourself in shock. All of this is normal. Unfortunately, one mistake that people commonly make after an accident, when they are in this state of shock, is to assume that they do not need immediate medical treatment.

You might ask why someone would make an assumption like this, and that is also a reasonable question. There are a number of reasons, but often, many people involved in an accident assume that they are “fine” because they do not see any visible injuries. They may feel shaken up or uncomfortable, but they do not see any blood or other alarming and obvious symptoms that signal a need for immediate treatment. As a result, they decide that medical treatment truly isn’t needed. This is a very dangerous assumption and one that could be quite costly.

The truth of the matter is that sometimes, in a car crash, victims can suffer internal injuries that are not immediately visible. These injuries can be anything from whiplash and spinal injuries to bruising of internal organs, to a concussion or a brain bleed. Sometimes, symptoms can take several days to appear. By the time they do, accident victims have missed valuable and vital time for treatment.

Instead, it is always better to simply see a medical provider immediately following an accident and get a thorough checkup. Even if symptoms seem mild, it is best to mention them to be on the safe side. A trained medical provider will be able to conduct a thorough examination and either recommend treatment or put your mind at ease. It is always better to be more cautious rather than less so, particularly where your health is concerned.

Looking Toward Legal Matters

Of course, there are also important legal reasons to seek medical care immediately following an accident as well. Technically, in Iowa, the statute of limitations with respect to car crash claims is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit – though, of course, some victims of auto accidents are advised to and will want to file a claim much sooner than that. An important part of filing a claim and seeking compensation is providing proof that you have injuries or damages that are directly related to the accident at issue.

Often, medical records are used in the course of litigation to document injuries and to provide important proof as to causation. Understandably then, the longer you wait to seek medical treatment, the more tenuous the connection between your injuries and the accident at issue becomes. Indeed, as a general rule of thumb, it is typically advised to wait no longer than 72 hours following an accident to seek medical care and, if at all possible, to be seen much sooner than that.

Many insurance companies regard 72 hours as a “reasonable“ amount of time in which to seek medical care after an accident. If you are involved in an accident in which you were not at fault and you immediately go to a medical provider to report the details of that accident along with any associated symptoms, you have a written record to rely upon. This can be very valuable evidence indeed. It is thus important to try if at all possible, to be seen by a medical provider within that time frame, even if you cannot be seen by your primary physician. Being seen in the emergency room or at an urgent care center will also serve to document your injuries and symptoms. So be certain to seek treatment of one kind or another within that window.

On the flip side of the coin, not going to the doctor allows the insurance company for the other driver and their attorneys to argue that perhaps you are not truly as hurt as you claim to be; or that perhaps the symptoms of which you complain are not related to the accident at issue. Needless to say, this is not what you want when you have medical bills mounting up, when you may be unable to work as a result of the accident, and when you are seeking to obtain the compensation that you rightfully deserve. It is always best to seek treatment promptly and to be proactive.

Call 303 Legal, P.C. Today

At 303 Legal, we are passionate about fighting for the compensation that car crash victims just like you deserve. We have extensive legal knowledge about the complex laws surrounding auto accidents as well as extensive experience successfully putting that knowledge into practice on behalf of clients across our community. We would be honored to have the opportunity to help you, too. Don’t hesitate to take the first step toward fighting for the justice you deserve. We are here to help you each step of the way. We look forward to speaking with you soon.