Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions Following an Accident
Unexpected accidents and injuries can upend your life in an instant, but the road to recovery – both physically and financially – can take time. Never ignore ANY injuries or pain following an accident, no matter how small or insignificant you may think they are. Visit a doctor right away so that there is medical documentation of your condition. This is especially crucial for injuries that can worsen over time. The sooner you get the documentation process started, the easier it will be to prove that the injuries were a result of the accident.
Injuries Are Not Always Obvious
After an accident such as a car crash or severe slip and fall, many injuries such as lacerations, fractures and bruises are obvious and can be easily spotted with the naked eye even though the severity might be a bit hidden. However, other types of injuries might not be so obvious, and some could even days or even time to manifest themselves. Considering the shock of the accident itself, it can be difficult for a victim of an accident to account for all of his/her symptoms, which means that potential issues could be overlooked.
Here are a few of the most common “delayed-onset” injuries that you should be aware of:
- Whiplash: A type of injury caused by the sudden forward-backward motion of the head during and after impact. It can involve bone, muscle, nerve, or other soft-tissue damage, and may not be felt for a week or more. Seeing a doctor could help identify the symptoms right away.
- Concussions: A type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.
- Back Injuries: Often dismissed as minor aches and pains immediately following a crash, back injuries can cause serious pain and difficulties long after the accident. It is important not to delay treatment as these injuries can get significantly worse with time.
- Spinal Damage: What feels like a sore neck or trapped nerve could be much more severe and could leave you paralyzed if not treated immediately.
- Internal Bleeding: Since bleeding can take place solely inside your body, it is hard to notice but could have serious consequences. For instance, bleeding in the head could lead to brain injury.
- Broken Ribs: While you might feel pain and soreness around the rib area, broken ribs are not always obvious. However if you fail to notice and treat these breaks, they could puncture a lung.
- Broken Bones: Not all breaks are apparent at the time, especially smaller ones.
- Organ Damage: The force of a car crash on your delicate organs, including your brain, could be life-threatening.
- Soft Tissue Damage: Damage around the knee area could leave you struggling with sports or more susceptible to further injury.
7 Reasons to Follow Up & Follow Medical Advice
- Qualified Experts: Doctors are highly educated, specially-trained professionals who serve a critical role in treating injured patients. These medical experts have the comprehensive knowledge to understand what is best for treating your injuries in relation to the other unique circumstances and individual medical histories that apply.
- Avoid Complications: Doctors give you instructions for a reason. They may also help ensure that seemingly minor injuries don’t become more serious problems. For example, for those with a possible brain injury, even initially “minor” head trauma can pose fatal and long term risks if it isn’t medically addressed.
- Allow for Adjustments: By following your doctor’s instructions and reporting back during follow ups, you can provide your doctor with insight into what is and is not working so they can tailor your treatment plans, adjust medications, or explore other options and treatment alternatives.
- Improve Long-term Outcomes & Function: Following your doctors’ instructions, including any instructions provided by rehabilitation experts, can be immensely important to improving long-term outcomes. If you stop following medical advice, you can put yourself at risk of suffering related problems down the road – problems that therefore may not be accounted for in any award or settlement for if your injury claim has already been resolved.
- Documenting Records: Documentation, doctor’s notes, and medical records are crucial pieces of evidence that you will receive following your doctor’s visits. These capture information about your health, recovery, treatment plan, and any recurrent or new problems that may arise. These documents provide an important picture of the consequences of your accident, are much more reliable and verifiable than a person’s word, and can be used to support an injury claim should one be filed.
- Fight Insurance Company Tactics: Listening to your doctor and staying consistent with your treatment, rehabilitation, and follow-up visits is the most effective way to recover from the injuries you suffered. When victims do not seek immediate treatment or continually follow up following an accident, insurance companies will often argue they were never really injured, that their injuries were not very bad, or that their injuries were not caused by the accident.
Avoid Activities You Are Told to Avoid
Part of your doctor’s orders may be to avoid doing certain activities, such as exercising, participating in sports, working or participating in other strenuous activity. It is important that you follow orders about avoiding certain activities. These restrictions can help you prevent a re-injury or worsening of your existing injury. It will also improve your credibility and show the insurance adjuster and jury that you are taking proper precautions regarding your health and physical safety.
Continue Treatment Until You Are Told to Stop
After a car accident, if your doctor diagnoses an injury and begins treatment, continue the course of treatment until your doctor releases you from it. There are two main reasons why it is important that you follow through with your treatment. The obvious reason is that your doctor is in the best position to determine how seriously you are injured, and to prescribe the best treatment for you. The second reason is that your doctor’s records of your visits are the best way to document and verify the nature and extent of your injuries, as well as the course and duration of your treatment. This verification is essential if you later make a car accident injury claim. Medical treatment and medical bills are a large component of damages in a personal injury case.
How Insurers View Victims Who Stop Treatment
When dealing with insurance adjusters, it is important to remember that they work for the insurance company and their goal is to do everything legally possible to deny insurance claims or minimize them. If you stop treatment, insurance adjusters may claim that you are making up your injuries or exaggerating them.
They may question the validity of the claim and argue that if you were really injured, you would follow doctor’s orders and continue treatment, regardless of the personal or financial costs to you. Insurance companies will try to attack your credibility if you stop treatment, so it is important to continue treatment.
Delayed Medical Treatment Could Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim
If you do not seek medical treatment immediately after an accident, you may hurt your prospects when filing a personal injury claim. An insurance adjuster will likely use your failure to seek treatment against you, arguing that since you did not seek immediate treatment; your injuries are not significant to warrant compensation. The insurance adjuster may also claim your injuries were not related to the accident because there was no documentation of it right after the accident.
The goal of the insurance adjuster is to discredit your claim and lower its value. When you fail to seek medical treatment immediately following an accident, you are opening up a door for them to use your actions, or lack thereof, against you. While these claims coming from an adjuster do not always work, when they do, they can drastically lower the amount of compensation you receive for your accident injuries.
Should You Speak with an Attorney?
Our legal team at Duque Law Group is comprised of award-winning and nationally recognized trial lawyers who collaborate with nurses, doctors and medical experts regularly. Though we understand the nature of injuries, we are not physicians, and always encourage victims to seek treatment as soon after an accident as possible, and to follow up and heed their doctors’ advice.
Call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.