How Soon Should I Seek Medical Attention After a Car Accident?

You should seek medical treatment within 72 hours of getting into an accident. Even if you do not believe you are seriously injured or do not have any physical signs of injuries, it is still worthwhile to see a doctor.

Some victims hesitate to get medical attention because they think their injuries are minor. However, some internal injuries can appear a few days or weeks later. You may also suffer life-long conditions from such injuries if you do not receive medical attention promptly.

Why You Should Seek Medical Attention Immediately After an Accident

It is important that you seek medical attention immediately after an accident for the following reasons:

To Safeguard Your Health

Each year, over 4 million people are injured in car accidents. Injuries range from minor bruising to traumatic brain injuries.

Victims must seek medical attention after a car accident, however minor, to have a doctor assess their accident-related injuries.

Visiting a doctor ensures that any potential injuries are detected early and prevents any underlying injuries that might potentially worsen if left untreated.

To Comply with The Insurance Company’s Policy

Aside from safeguarding your health, seeking medical treatment also allows you to comply with car insurance requirements.

Policyholders must seek medical treatment if they hope to file a claim for compensation for any damages or injuries.

Most insurance companies have a statute of limitations. This is a limited time within which you must seek medical attention to prove that your injuries are related to the accident.

Depending on your state, the statute of limitations can range from 72 hours to 14 days.

Seeking medical attention within the recommended time frame supports your claim and makes you eligible for compensation.

To Document Your Injuries

Victims who file a personal injury lawsuit must provide medical proof. This is especially important if you file a claim against the at-fault party.

The medical reports you receive from your doctor can be used to calculate the cost of medical treatment to determine your compensation.

To Detect Underlying Injuries

In some cases, injuries may appear later. For instance, concussions, brain injuries, or soft tissue injuries may take some days to appear. This is because your body takes time to register the swelling, which delays the pain.

Even if you did not suffer direct impact with the vehicle at the time of the accident, a sudden shift could cause your head to jerk violently, causing a concussion.

This is considered a moderate traumatic brain injury, however, if ignored, it can lead to severe consequences. You may have suffered a concussion if you display symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurry vision
  • Low energy
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Nausea

Effects of Delayed Medical Attention on Your Health

Car accidents are emotionally and physically traumatic. Even if you do not have apparent injuries, your body produces adrenaline and endorphins to deal with the trauma. The hormones can suppress physical pain after an accident, causing you to feel your injuries days later.

Some symptoms that may be delayed after an accident include:

  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Painful neck movements
  • Headache
  • Arm and leg numbness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lower back pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Pressure inside the head
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Balance problems

You may also experience behavioral problems such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. Some victims experience cognitive problems days after the accident, such as confusion and difficulty remembering or concentrating.

These delayed symptoms can be persistent and disabling for up to 15% of victims who receive delayed treatment for a concussion.

Research shows that correct and timely diagnosis of injuries such as whiplash after an accident can aid in quick recovery and successful management of the above symptoms reducing chances of disability.

Effect of Delayed Medical Attention on Your Finances

If you do not seek medical attention immediately after an accident, it can be challenging to prove that your injuries are related to the accident. If you delay seeking medical attention, the at-fault party may claim that:

  • You injured yourself in an unrelated event after the accident just before you visited the doctor.
  • Your pain and injuries existed before the accident.
  • You were not injured in the accident but are making up alleged pain and false injuries to receive compensation. Victims who suffer pain and injuries after an accident seek immediate medical attention.

Seeking medical attention immediately after an accident ensures you have proof of your injuries to support your compensation claim. It also provides proof of medical expenses which helps you with your financial recovery.

If you do not seek immediate medical attention, you may suffer life-long illnesses that cause you to lose income.

You may also have to pay out of pocket for medical equipment, home modifications, and future medical expenses.

What Happens If You Do Not Seek Medical Attention Within the Recommended Time Frame?

Some victims honestly believe they suffered no injuries, especially if the accident was just a minor fender bender.

While it can significantly impact your compensation claim, you may not have realized the importance of seeking medical attention.

If your injuries appear a day or two later, an experienced lawyer can help you build your case against the negligent driver.

An experienced car accident attorney has the knowledge and expertise to help you handle delayed medical treatment and other mistakes you may have made before filing a claim.

Get Medical Attention Immediately

Even if your soft tissue injuries or concussion take a few days to appear, it is still important to seek medical attention immediately after an accident. You can always go back to the doctor if new symptoms develop.

It is better to seek medical attention multiple times after an accident than to lose out on the compensation you deserve to make a full financial recovery.


After an accident, seeking compensation can be difficult. Most victims are still emotionally distressed and may not be in the right frame of mind to handle negotiations. This can be even worse if you do not seek medical attention immediately.

Thankfully, with the right car accident attorney, you can get advice about possible options even if you did not see a doctor promptly. They can also help you get started on your claim and negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation.

If your case goes to trial, your attorney can also represent and guide you to ensure you get what you deserve to help you recover fully.

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