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3 Reasons You Should Always See a Doctor After a Car Accident

It happened: You were in a car accident. Out of nowhere, a pickup truck hit you from behind. Although your car was crushed in places and you smacked into the guardrail, you feel lucky to be alive. In fact, you don’t feel anything other than a bit of discomfort from the airbag's suddenly deploying against your body.

Should you just go home and be glad you walked away after exchanging insurance information with the at-fault driver and giving a statement to police?

Absolutely not.

Ideally, you should go to an urgent care facility or at least contact your primary care physician as soon as possible.

Why get medical personnel involved if you don’t seem to have any physical issues immediately after a car crash? Essentially, you are forgetting three important factors.

#1: Your injuries might not be apparent.

The human body can quickly mask pain when the brain is flooded with mixed messages from a traumatic event. For instance, many people have reported that they felt no pain for 24 hours after breaking their ribs or spraining an ankle.

The longer you wait to get something checked, the worse the condition can become. And you might not make the connection between the injury and your car crash. For instance, what happens if you find out that you suffered a mild heart attack and didn’t know it? Mild heart attacks can cause nausea, headaches, neck pain, and other symptoms. You might chalk those symptoms up to a psychological response instead of understanding that you had a mild heart attack after a vehicle collision.

#2: You may be denied compensation from an insurance company.

 Are you someone who constantly tries to “fight through” any discomforts? This isn’t the time to be a superhero. Even if you want to just grin and bear your trauma, you shouldn’t.

Here’s the issue: If you try to get compensation later from an insurance carrier for your injuries, you could be denied, especially if you didn’t see a medical professional within 72 hours of your car crash. After all, if you don’t go to a doctor, you have zero documentation. An insurance provider will be less likely to associate your injuries with your accident if you don’t get help.

Why risk losing a personal injury settlement you could otherwise deserve?

#3: You could be badly hurt and not know it.

All the adrenaline pumping through your veins could mask something very, very serious, even internal bleeding or broken bones. It isn’t worth risking your life just to avoid going to a specialist.

Don’t assume that you would know if you were that badly injured. Many people talk about being surprised to find out they had a life-threatening injury they never knew about. Even if your injury isn’t fatal, it could result in long-term problems, such as a herniated disc, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or other permanent condition that keeps you from staying in your line of work or enjoying things you love (e.g., sports, yard work, hiking).

The bottom line is that you can’t treat yourself after a car accident. Even if you look in the mirror and see no bruises, you could still be physically or emotionally unwell. This is a situation when you need to seek medical attention, even if you feel like nothing’s wrong.

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