Should I Go to a Doctor After a Car Accident?
Being hurt in a car accident is a painful and frightening experience. With some crashes, injuries are obvious right from the start. Other times, you might walk away from an accident feeling stunned, but not seriously hurt. Think again.
You should always go to a doctor after a car accident in Vancouver, even if you think you’re fine. Some injuries have a delayed onset, even life-threatening ones. Brain injuries, internal organ damage, and soft tissue trauma are all examples. Once diagnosed, these injuries may result in astronomical medical expenses and other losses for you.
Getting compensation from a car accident will mean filing a claim with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). However, it can be difficult for crash victims to get the full amount of money they are entitled to after a wreck without the help of an experienced car accident lawyer. That’s where Warnett Hallen LLP can help.
Should I See a Doctor Even if I am Not Hurt?
It’s essential to seek medical attention any time you are in a car accident. Car crashes are very upsetting. In response to the stress, your body begins producing adrenaline. Adrenaline is an important hormone that helps the body react more quickly in traumatic situations. However, adrenaline can also mask certain injuries and make you think you are not hurt after a car accident. A doctor will perform a full examination and recommend treatment for any injury, whether it is obvious or hidden.
Some injuries also do not appear immediately following a crash. For example, if you hit your head on the steering wheel or dashboard during the accident, you may have sustained a concussion. Concussions are notorious for an absence of symptoms in the days immediately following an injury. After hearing you struck your head, a doctor may perform certain tests to determine if you have a concussion. Upon finding the injury, you can then begin treatment right away instead of waiting for care, which can prevent the injury from becoming worse.
Going to a doctor even if you think you are not hurt will also protect any future claim with ICBC. The insurance company will want to know that you have sought medical treatment for your injuries. If you cannot prove that, it could significantly affect your claim.
When Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
It is always best to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Sometimes, you’ll have no choice if your injury needs immediate treatment, such as a broken bone. Call emergency services to the accident scene right away.
Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, you should still see a doctor promptly. However, if you are able, you can wait a few minutes longer and collect some information from the accident scene. Get the names and insurance information of everyone involved in the wreck. Take pictures of the vehicles and any other evidence you think may be important, such as debris in the road or traffic signs and signals. If there are witnesses, get their names and phone numbers, too.
Even if you do remain at the scene longer to collect evidence, seek medical attention as soon as you’re able to leave. You need to rule out undetected injuries, both for your sake and the sake of your future ICBC claim.
How Not Going to a Doctor Can Affect My Claim
All motorists in British Columbia are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance in the event that they are in a crash. After an accident, you can file a claim with ICBC to obtain damages for medical costs, lost income, and more. Keep in mind that even though ICBC is your insurer, they will be looking out for their own best interests, not yours. Their representatives will be looking for any way to deny, reduce, or delay your claim. If you do not see a doctor after a crash, you provide them with ammunition that could accomplish their goal.
ICBC may state that there is no way to document your injuries, or how much they cost, because you did not seek medical treatment right away. While proving fault is not necessary when filing an ICBC claim, you must still prove the extent of your injuries and the cost of treatment. If you did not see a doctor, you will not have the documentation necessary to prove this element of your claim.
ICBC may also try to deny your claim by stating you could not have been injured in the crash because you did not seek medical help. The insurer will argue that if you were seriously injured, you would have seen a doctor right away.
Finally, not seeing a doctor immediately after a crash provides the insurer with the argument that your injuries were due to another reason. For example, if you were in a car accident but did not see a doctor for two weeks, the insurer may argue that you suffered the injuries somewhere else, not from the crash.
What Doctor Should I See After an Accident?
In the moments immediately following the crash, you should seek treatment from the closest medical professional. Whether this is a paramedic at the scene, an emergency room doctor, or your family doctor, the priority is getting treatment quickly. However, when filing a claim for damages with ICBC, you will be required to see a doctor of their choice.
What to Discuss with a Doctor After a Car Accident
It is crucial that you are open and honest at all times with your doctor. There is no shame in admitting that you cannot perform certain functions or that you are in a great deal of pain.
When speaking to your doctor, there are five specific things you should discuss:
- Your complete medical history: You may not think an old injury has anything to do with the injuries you are dealing with after an accident. However, your complete medical history is important to your current health. For example, if you have diabetes, your injuries may heal more slowly and you may be more prone to infection. It is essential that your doctor understands this condition and how it affects your current health.
- How you got hurt: Again, your medical records will provide proof to ICBC that the car accident caused your injuries. While you want to talk about the car accident to your doctor, do not embellish your injuries or any of the other facts of your case. ICBC can use this to argue that you are not credible.
- Your future treatment: When you file a claim with ICBC, you can claim your current and future medical expenses. To know how much to claim, you need to understand what future treatment you will receive, and how much it will cost.
- Your ability to work: Some people want to return to work right away after an accident. While this is admirable, it is also dangerous. If you return to work too early, you may aggravate the injury or sustain another one because you are not as strong as you once were. If your doctor says you are unable to return to work right away, your lawyer will also include any lost income in your claim.
- Your prognosis: You must understand your prognosis after an accident. Someone who will fully recover in several weeks will not recover the same amount of damages as someone that will never walk again. You need to know what the expected outcome will be. Sometimes, there are no guarantees. That can also affect the amount of compensation you receive.
All of the information that the doctor provides will help your car accident lawyer build a strong ICBC claim on your behalf.
Delayed Injuries After Seeing a Doctor
Sometimes, injuries are so subtle that even a doctor misses them during your initial appointment. If you feel symptoms such as nausea, headaches, pain, or anything else after a crash, go back to the doctor as soon as possible. You can still include these injuries if you have not yet filed your claim, but you must document them just as you documented your initial injuries.
The possibility of late-onset injuries is one reason why it is so important to never sign anything from the insurance company in the moments or days following a crash. Once you have accepted a settlement, you cannot go back and ask for more, so you must understand the full extent of your injuries.
How the Vancouver Car Accident Lawyers at Warnett Hallen LLP Can Help
If you have been hurt in a crash, the Vancouver car accident lawyers at Warnett Hallen LLP can help you through the ICBC claims process and advise on whether a lawsuit against the negligent party is appropriate. We can also handle all negotiations with the insurance company so that you accept a settlement that fully reflects the true extent of your losses.
Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a skilled car accident lawyer.