Some of the injuries people suffer in car crashes are obvious. A broken leg won’t let someone put any weight on it, meaning they aren’t going to casually walk away from a wreck, in most cases. Spinal cord injuries and amputations will also have dramatic, often instantly obvious symptoms.
The fact that so many collision injuries are catastrophic in nature may, unfortunately, lead some people to make a bad decision after getting into a car crash. If they don’t notice signs of a horrific injury right at the scene of the collision, they may decline evaluation from paramedics who arrive at the scene of the crash and might go on with their day as though nothing happened instead of going to the doctor or the hospital for an exam.
Unfortunately, there can be both medical and legal consequences to that decision.
What are the legal consequences of not seeing a doctor after a crash?
If you get hurt in a crash but don’t get diagnosed with an injury for several days or even a couple of weeks, the delay in evaluation and treatment might reduce your legal options. Insurance companies and the courts may be skeptical of claims related to injuries where a person did not receive care the same day that they got hurt.
Additionally, delays in diagnosis and treatment can alter someone’s prognosis, paving the way for an insurance company or attorney to defend against a compensation claim through the idea of failure to mitigate damages. If they can show that you contributed to the severity and impact of your injuries by not getting care quickly enough, that could reduce or even eliminate your right to compensation.
What are the medical risks of not getting an exam after a crash?
Not all injuries are immediately obvious. While you aren’t going to walk away from a crash with a severed spinal cord, you could have a less obvious injury to your spinal cord such as pinching or impinging the cord without fully severing it. You could exacerbate the injury and even cause permanent damage by moving around too much without having an exam.
You could also have internal bleeding or a brain injury, both of which could go days if not weeks without producing severe symptoms. With any of these kinds of injuries, the quicker you get a diagnosis and start treatment, the easier it is to mitigate the long-term effects of the injury.
Although it can be inconvenient and frustrating to extend the delay a crash causes in your day, it is better to see a doctor and rule out severe injuries after a crash than to wait and see if your symptoms worsen.