Those who do not seem to need emergency treatment after a car accident are typically given first aid on the site and then released. As an accident victim, even if you think you feel fine after this, it's not sufficient to ensure you are well. You should seek treatment, visiting an urgent care clinic, a doctor, or the emergency room, as soon as possible.
Your health and your financial future may be at stake. The longer you wait to see a doctor after an accident, the more likely it is your insurance claim for any injuries will face pushback or possibly even be denied. Our attorneys are here to help people like you fight back against unfair efforts to reduce your compensation after an accident, but we can only do so much without the evidence needed to support a claim. Seeking prompt medical attention gives your case a strong foundation.
Is There a Deadline to See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
Insurance claims aren't bound by the same sort of timelines legal claims are, but we advise seeking treatment within 72 hours (3 days) of an accident, even if you think you're not hurt. Insurance adjusters expect you to do your part to protect your wellbeing. The 72-hour window allows accident victims time to deal with other important demands on their time but still shows a sense of urgency.
What Should I Do If I'm Too Late to See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
If you aren't able to see a doctor within the first 3 days after a crash, do the next best thing and make an appointment as soon as you can. While a medical visit that comes after that 72-hour window may be treated with more skepticism by an insurance adjuster, it can still give you evidence for your claim and set you up for any further treatment you need.
We also recommend you make a note about extenuating circumstances regarding your visit. For example, were you required to work long shifts during the first 3 days after the accident, and were too tired when you got off work to go to a doctor? Did you have a slight headache you thought would go away, but didn't? Did you think you were fine, only to start having pain two days after the accident? While these reasons may not be as good as receiving quick medical care, keeping track of them can help explain your choices and validate your claim.
Why Do I Need to Seek Prompt Medical Attention If I'm Not Badly Injured?
Though insurance adjusters often use unfair tactics to decrease your claim, their reasoning for why you should see a doctor sooner rather than later is based in fact. The longer any injury goes without treatment, the worse it may get. Not only does this mean you may suffer more pain and need more serious treatment—it correlates to higher medical bills an insurer doesn't want to be left paying.
It's fair enough for an insurer to deny coverage for medical expenses that could have been avoided, and most jurors will side with them on this point. Therefore, on top of finding yourself laid up with a serious medical condition, you might also be responsible for expenses you can't afford. The easiest way to avoid this scenario is to see the doctor as soon as you can and record everything you can about your injuries and treatment, so you have proof you've done your best to take care of yourself.
Make Sure Your Lawyer Is Qualified to Handle Complex Medical Claims
Some car accident attorneys overload themselves with claims and then rush to settle them, which can result in victims not receiving the compensation they need. If you were seriously injured, an insurance adjuster is likely to look for ways they can decrease their company's liability. This includes questioning whether your injuries are legitimate. If you're in this position, you need an attorney who is both dedicated to your claim and knowledgeable regarding the types of injuries caused by car accidents.
At Karns & Kerrison, we have over 85 years of combined experience that includes work with the severely and catastrophically injured. Our team has sufficient resources to investigate these cases and connections with medical professionals who are happy to provide testimony for our clients. Don't give an insurance adjuster the chance to cast doubt on your claim—call us today for fierce advocacy.
Karns & Kerrison offers free consultations to car accident victims across Rhode Island. Call us at (888) 281-3100 to schedule yours.