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Why You Should Always See a Doctor After a Car Accident in Tampa

Offered by Armando Personal Injury Law

Take the time to protect your health and your legal rights

You’re in a car crash on I-275, I-4, Hillsborough Avenue, or another road in Tampa, FL. Fortunately, you feel okay. Perhaps you have a little bruising or a sore arm where you felt the impact through the steering wheel, but that’s it. You’re one of the lucky ones, right?

While walking away from a crash is always better than the alternative, you may not be out of the proverbial woods yet. Even if you feel okay, it’s always important to get checked out by a doctor after a car accident – both for your health and for your legal rights.

Car accident injuries sometimes fly under the radar

Whenever you’re involved in a threatening or harmful event, including a car crash, your body’s natural responses kick in to keep you safe. Your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, your heart rate increases, and your energy level goes up. This is sometimes medically known as the “acute stress response” and more commonly called “fight-or-flight.”

The fight-or-flight response can help you get out of the accident in one piece, but it can also betray you when it comes to diagnosing your injuries once you’re safe. While your adrenaline levels are up, you may not notice pain or other symptoms. Your blood clots faster, which can mask symptoms of an injury that causes bleeding. Certain internal organs increase their functioning, while others slow down, making it harder to compare how you’re currently feeling to your usual baseline.

In addition, some injuries commonly sustained in car accidents take time to become apparent. Inflammation, for example, doesn’t always set in right away. Internal organ damage can fly under the radar for a while as the undamaged portions of the organ work harder to pick up the slack. Perhaps most dangerously of all, concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) don’t always have immediately obvious symptoms – but they can cause devastating long-term damage, especially if you get another concussion before the first has healed.

This is why you can’t afford to diagnose yourself at the scene of an accident. Get checked out by a paramedic or emergency medical technician (EMT) at the scene, then see a doctor as soon as possible. Go to the emergency room at Tampa General Hospital or one of the many other hospitals in the area, an urgent care center, or your primary care provider. It’s the safest option for your health.

Follow your doctor’s instructions and document everything

When you get checked out, tell the medical provider who examines you that you were in a car accident and describe all your symptoms in as much detail as you can. Even a little discomfort could be a sign of a more significant underlying injury. Give your doctor as much information as possible to fully diagnose your injuries.

The next step is to follow your doctor’s instructions. If you were seen at an emergency room or urgent care, schedule a follow-up appointment with your primary care doctor. If the doctor recommends tests such as blood work or an X-ray, get those tests done as well. Take any medications as prescribed. Just as importantly, pay attention to your body in the days and weeks following the accident and call your doctor as soon as you notice something is off.

Critically, you need to save documentation of all your medical treatment related to the accident. Keep copies of your visit summaries, discharge instructions, prescriptions, doctor’s orders, and bills. This paper trail will help you establish the full amount of damages (financial compensation) you need for your medical expenses related to the accident.

How getting prompt treatment for a car accident injury helps your case

Again, seeing a doctor right away is the best option for your health, but it’s also important for your legal rights. When you get medical attention, you create medical documentation of your injuries and the treatment required for those injuries. These documents are critical both to your case for medical expenses and any other losses related to the injuries – for instance, if you were unable to work for a time because you needed to rest or your injury affected your ability to do your job.

Getting medical attention also helps to establish the long-term prognosis for your injuries. For example, a doctor may be able to medically ascertain that because of your knee injury sustained in the car accident, you are more likely to need a knee replacement in the future. The potential cost of that future surgery should be accounted for in your compensation for the car accident. The sooner you start getting medical attention, the sooner you will have all the medical information you need to make a case for the full compensation you deserve.

What happens if you don’t see a doctor right away? Besides putting your health in danger, waiting to see a doctor creates an opportunity for the insurance company to dispute or deny your claim. They may argue that your injuries weren’t sustained in the car accident at all and something else happened in the intervening time. The sooner you get checked out after the crash, the less room there is for the insurance company to dispute your claim on that basis.

See a doctor, then talk to a car accident lawyer

One of the two most important things you can do after a car crash is get medical attention. The other is to talk to an attorney as soon as possible, ideally before you talk to the insurance company. An attorney can take immediate action to investigate the crash, preserve evidence, and advocate for full compensation for all your injuries. Just as importantly, your lawyer can deal with the insurance company and take care of the paperwork on your behalf while you focus on going to your medical appointments, following your doctor’s instructions, and getting better.

There’s no cost and no obligation to hire when you meet with an attorney, just answers about your legal rights and options. Don’t go it alone after a car accident in Tampa, FL. Schedule your free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney today.


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Attorney Armando Edmiston is a Hillsborough County personal injury lawyer and lifelong resident who believes in hard work and fair treatment for injured people. Our mission is to ...