Imagine the following:  you are in your car, sitting in stopped traffic, cars lined up ahead of you so far that the stoplight ahead looks like a tiny light on a Christmas tree.  Suddenly, before you can even process what is happening, there is a loud crash and your entire car jolts forward, whipping your head and neck along with it.  As you massage the area where your seatbelt fortunately kept you from flying through the windshield, your first thought might be to get out and survey the damage.  Or perhaps you have passengers, and your thoughts go to their safety.  Maybe you just roll your eyes and silently curse at the unfortunate luck of being rear-ended.  Or perhaps you think nothing at all, and are in a state of shock as you go through the motions of exchanging information with the driver who hit you.

All of these are perfectly understandable reactions to being in a rear-end auto collision.  Every day, auto collisions like this one occur and set into motion a variety of reactions.  Suddenly your to-do list includes calls to your insurance agent, to your auto mechanic, and to your attorney.  And, let’s be honest, as you tend to pressing matters such as how you’re going to pick up the kids from school without a car, some injured parties wait to call an attorney, or to even call a doctor, for that matter.  Maybe it is the shock of the accident, maybe you are just too overwhelmed with other matters, or maybe you think you can “tough it out,” but the point you must take away from this above all else is that without a clean bill of your personal health, all of the rest will not matter.  There is nothing more important than seeking treatment immediately after an accident occurs.  Why am I so adamant that injured parties seek treatment immediately after the accident?  Now, you may be reading this thinking, “How silly, of course I would tend to my health above all else.”  However, you would be surprised by the number of potential clients who call for a consultation and realize that they waited too long to seek treatment.  Now, not only are they dealing with an injury that may have been exacerbated due to the lack of early treatment, but on top of that, their chances of recovery against a negligent party may begin to diminish.  After all, how seriously would a judge or a juror take an injured party who did not take his own injury seriously?  There are many reasons why being prudent about your medical treatment is the best way to assure the best outcome for you medically as well as legally.

Here are three of those reasons:

Seeking immediate treatment can detect injuries that you may not even realize you have

One of the most common responses to the question, “Why didn’t you seek treatment right after the accident” is that the injured party was in “shock.”  It is important to understand what is meant by the emotional state of shock, or technically speaking, acute stress disorder.  Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a psychiatric diagnosis that can be given to individuals following a traumatic event.  One symptom of ASD falls under the category of dissociative disorders, which means that the injured party may actually feel “outside of their body” after the traumatic event occurs.  (Bryant, R.A., & Harvey, A.G. (2000). Acute Stress Disorder: A handbook of theory, assessment, and treatment. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association).  To give just one example, 13-21% of individuals who have been in an automobile collision may experience ASD.  (Harvey, A.G., & Bryant, R.A. (1998a) Acute Stress Disorder following mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 186, 333-337.Harvey, A.G., & Bryant, R.A. (1998b). The relationship between Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A prospective evaluation of motor vehicle accident survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 507-512).  So, what does this mean for the average guy or girl who gets into an auto collision?  It means that immediately after a trauma occurs, an onset of ASD, or shock, may render an injured party incapable of determining whether or not they have been seriously injured.  What is the best remedy for preventing that injuries go undetected?  Get thee straight to a trained medical professional who can evaluate potential injuries.  At best, the medical professional can send you on your way if nothing serious has occurred.  And, if necessary, a medical professional can detect injuries that may be lingering unnoticed due to shock.

Seeking immediate treatment provides the best possible scenario for your medical recovery.

This may seem self-evident, but when an injured party is busy readjusting to life after an accident, it can be easy for them to push their own medical needs to the end of the line.  Do not make this mistake.  If you suspect you have been injured, treating the injury right away will prevent further exacerbation of the injury.

Seeking immediate treatment preserves a detailed accounting of your injury as it relates to the accident in question.

Finally, while your health and medical treatment is the most important to consider following any accident, you may also be considering your options for legal recovery.  If this is the case, it is of utmost importance to be diligent in your treatment, to keep a detailed record, and to avail yourself of the medical options available to you sooner rather than later.  The attorneys at Smoler Law are here to help injured parties, but little can be done if the injured party does not first seek to help themselves, by taking care of their health immediately following any accident.

Disclaimer – Blog Not Legal Advice – No Attorney-Client Relationship Formed by These Posts or By Any Comments, or By Comments Replying to Comments, on This Blog.

The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.