Most accidents are minor, or at least they may seem minor at first. Post-accident, adrenaline is high and one may not experience the immediate onset of symptoms as the property damage is being assessed, insurance companies are being notified and the investigating officer is taking statements and assessing who is at-fault for the accident.
This is especially true with back and neck injuries where rear end collisions are involved, and which are commonly referred to as “whiplash injuries”, a type of soft tissue injury.
Whiplash back and neck injuries are common in auto accidents. When an accident happens, the force of the crash can cause people to become banged around or violently whiplashed, whether by a rear end, side impact or front end collision. The result can be soreness pain and great discomfort due to swelling, bruising, and stiffness.
Whiplash injuries can be difficult to diagnose immediately after an accident. It may take several days or even weeks for symptoms to develop. Because they are soft tissue in nature, they are not discernable through physical examination or x-rays, making them difficult to diagnose and treat.
Most soft tissue injuries are non-surgical, but delay in receiving proper treatment such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications can result in recurring symptoms and even sometimes in a permanent condition.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Injuries that seem minor may cause long-term problems. Never take minor aches or pains after an accident lightly. It’s important to get checked out by a healthcare provider. To qualify for your full Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance benefits, you must be seen by a medical doctor who confirms you have an emergency medical condition which requires treatment within 14 days of the accident. Otherwise, your PIP benefits could be greatly reduced – potentially from $10,000 to $2,500.
If your accident results in a personal injury claim or litigation, it is important that your medical records clearly document your injuries and treatment. Failure to immediately seek treatment and document your injuries could greatly diminish your claim’s value. If treatment is delayed, the defendant may argue that it was not his or her negligent conduct that caused your injury, but rather something that occurred between the time of the accident and your visit to the doctor.
Document the Accident
Determining who is at fault in an accident is important. If available, obtain a copy of the accident report from the investigating officer. A police report will often aid in establishing who is at fault for the accident, the names and contact information of witnesses, weather and road conditions and insurance coverage information.
If possible obtain, photos of vehicles involved – especially your vehicle and the vehicle that hit yours – as well as statements from witnesses, including their contact information. Often witnesses do not provide statements, or the investigating officer does not get them or even identify witnesses. In the haste of the moment, it may not be possible for you to do so either. However, if you take photos license plates of the witnesses’ vehicles, they can be located later if needed.
We Want to Help
If you are in an accident, we want to help you through the claims process. Our experienced attorneys and staff can investigate your accident and shepherd you through the medical treatment and insurance claims process, and, if necessary, a lawsuit.
Many automobile accident victims and their loved ones face burdensome medical bills, unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, and lost income. These losses can only be properly compensated with the representation of a qualified automobile accident attorney.
If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, consider contacting Terrell • Hogan. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate your case free of charge. You will not pay attorney fees or costs unless your attorney recovers money for you through a settlement or judgment.
To help you if are involved in an accident, we created this checklist for you to print and keep in your automobile glove box.