There are many reasons why an injured individual may refuse treatment at the scene of an accident. Perhaps they feel their injuries don’t warrant an ambulance ride or an ER visit. Or, their first concern is to speak with the police and their insurance company.
However, seeking medical attention as soon as possible is important not only for one’s physical health but also their legal rights. Here are five reasons why injured individuals should not delay seeing a doctor after a car accident.
1. Prompt Medical Care Prevents Injuries from Worsening
Many injuries sustained in a car accident can worsen without prompt diagnosis and treatment. Car accident victims who delay going to a hospital may lengthen their recovery period and face increased medical expenses. Seeking medical attention right away can mean the difference between an injury one can recover from and a permanent disability.
2. Prompt Medical Care Establishes a Link Between the Car Accident and Any Resulting Injuries
A key part of building a car accident injury claim is providing proof that the accident caused new injuries or caused existing injuries to worsen. The insurance company may look for ways to cast doubt on the nature of someone’s injuries. Waiting to seek medical care could result in a car accident injury claim denial.
3. Prompt Medical Care Facilitates a Treatment Plan
Any financial compensation that accident victims could receive is based, in part, on current and future medical expenses associated with the crash. It is impossible to calculate an adequate settlement amount without knowing the person’s diagnosis and treatment plan.
4. Prompt Medical Care Starts a Paper Trail for a Personal Injury Claim
An attorney can only file a car accident claim if someone sustained damages such as bodily injury. Attorneys can use certain documentation to prove these damages, including the police report and medical records.
5. Prompt Medical Care Is Needed to Meet Legal Deadlines
In Iowa, injured parties have two years to pursue a personal injury claim in civil court. Typically, the clock starts to tick on the day of the car accident.
Injured individuals should be aware that two years is the deadline to file a claim with the court; it is not the deadline to simply contact a law firm. Attorneys need time to gather documentation, conduct an investigation if needed, and build a strong case. There is no reason to wait to speak with an attorney. Most car accident law firms offer free consultations.
What Car Accident Victims Need to Know About Fault in Iowa
After a car accident, the involved parties often come away with their own perceptions of the accident. Someone may delay seeking medical care or consulting an attorney if they feel they were partially or totally responsible for the crash.
However, individuals may be entitled to receive compensation even if they were partially responsible for the accident. Below is some important information that people need to know about being at fault for a car accident in Iowa.
Perception Is Not the Same as The Law
Any one person’s thoughts about the cause of the crash and what happened from a legal standpoint may differ. The laws surrounding car accident injuries are complex. Attorneys who have experience with these types of cases can explain the laws in everyday terms.
Fault May Not Be “All or Nothing”
The court can find both parties to be responsible for causing a crash in Iowa, a legal concept called contributory negligence. This fault is expressed in percentages. For example, the court may determine that an injured person was 10% at fault for the crash. Any financial compensation would be adjusted accordingly.
Determining Fault May Not Be Easy
A legal team may need to investigate to accurately assess who or what entity was responsible for the crash. This process may involve:
- Accessing and viewing surveillance or dashcam videos
- Interviewing witnesses
- A recreation of the accident scene
- An inquiry into municipal road maintenance
- Investigating any possible third-party negligence, such as an auto manufacturer or an auto part supplier
Car Accident Injuries Are Common
Anyone hesitating to seek medical care after a car accident should realize these injuries are incredibly common. According to the CDC, in a recent year, there were 2.1 million emergency room visits to assess and treat car accident injuries.
While by no means an exhaustive list, some of the most common injuries sustained in a car crash include:
- Soft tissues injuries, including whiplash
- Bone fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
The Lasting Impact of Car Accident Injuries
Car accident victims should be careful to not compare their injuries to others. There is no such thing as “just” a broken bone or “only” a sprain. Car accident injuries can put people out of work for months, years, or even permanently.
These injuries do more than interfere with the ability to earn an income. Car accident victims often experience physical, emotional, and psychological distress. Their injuries may prevent them from pursuing hobbies, taking part in their favorite pastimes, and being a part of their community. Injuries can also take a toll on parenting, spousal relationships, and friendships.
What Expenses Does a Car Accident Settlement Pay For?
Iowa law may entitle injured individuals to a settlement if the other party is found to be at least partly at fault for the car accident. This compensation may cover current and future expenses caused by the crash.
- The initial ER or urgent care visit
- Diagnostic tests: CT scans, X-rays, MRIs
- Out-patient visits and care
- Hospital stays
- Ongoing physical and occupational therapy
- Prescription medications
- Mobility aids such as crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair
- In-home care to help with meal prep, hygiene, and housekeeping
- Lost wages during recovery
- Compensation for a permanent disability that makes it impossible to return to work or diminishes one’s lifetime earning capacity
Pain and Suffering
- Counseling to treat PTSD, anxiety, or depression
- Loss of consortium—the injuries interfere with the person’s ability to maintain a relationship with their spouse
- Loss of parental guidance for minor children
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering