If you have ever been unfortunate enough to be in a car accident, you know that it is an extremely chaotic and stressful ordeal. The crash happens so suddenly that it can be hard to know what happened, who was at fault, and what action you should take.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make after a car accident is assuming that you are uninjured. Many people think that as long as they feel fine, they are fine. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case. It may take days or even weeks for a car accident victim to realize that they have been seriously injured.
Whether you were in a serious collision or a simple fender-bender, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible. By seeing a doctor right away–even if you don’t feel hurt–you are protecting your future ability to sue the negligent party.
In 2018 alone, 4.5 million people were seriously injured in car accidents nationwide.
At the time of the car accident, it can also be almost impossible to know for sure whether or not you are injured. Between the adrenaline and endorphins, your body naturally releases in response to a dangerous situation and the confusion surrounding the car accident.
You may not realize that you have suffered a serious injury. Instead, you might simply feel shaken up. As a result, you might miss the signs that you are hurt, or you may have an injury that isn’t immediately perceptible, such as internal bleeding or a concussion.
Seeking medical attention also lets you establish a history of your injuries. When you are examined, the doctor will include in his or her report that you experienced a car accident. The medical report helps to prove causation: that your injuries were a direct result of the car accident and not because of something else.
Take the following example:
Bill was rear-ended while driving to work in heavy traffic. The accident was the fault of the other driver, who was following too closely and using their cellphone. At the time, Bill felt fine so he didn’t go to the emergency room or visit his doctor.
Two weeks later, he began to have excruciating back pain. After seeing his doctor, he was diagnosed with a pinched nerve.
In this example, it is likely that Bill’s pinched nerve was caused by the car accident. As such, he should be able to recover compensation for his injuries either by settling with the other driver’s insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
But, the longer Bill waits from the time of the accident to seek treatment, the harder it is to prove liability and fault. For instance, the defendant could argue that Bill easily could have gone golfing the week after his accident and injured himself then.
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, time matters. The longer a plaintiff waits to seek medical treatment, the harder it is to prove whose is at fault for the injuries.
An individual who is injured in a car accident in California is required to take reasonable steps to avoid or treat the injury. Known as mitigation of damages, even if the individual’s injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else they may be prevented from recovering compensation if they fail to make reasonable efforts to have their injuries treated.
In our above example, if Bill would have seen a doctor immediately after the car accident and was told to stay in bed for a week to heal and he went golfing anyway, Bill failed to make reasonable efforts, i.e., follow the advice of the doctor, and therefore can’t successfully recover compensation for his injuries.
If you are the victim of a car accident, don’t wait to seek medical treatment. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can recover compensation for your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
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