If you’ve ever been in an auto accident, you know how quickly it happens and how frightening it can be. Your first concern is whether everyone is safe. The next concern is what to do next: Move the vehicles? Call an ambulance? Call the police? Exchange information? See a doctor?
Most car accidents don’t result in major injuries. If you emerge from a collision relatively unscathed, you may be eager to move along and get on with your day. But even in minor collisions, it’s important for everyone involved to see a doctor as soon as possible. Here’s why.
When you’re in a potentially life-threatening situation, your body’s physiological response is to release the hormone adrenaline. Biologically, this response evolved so that humans could respond to danger with focus and clarity—i.e. the “fight or flight” response. This is why time seems to slow down and you can make instinctive decisions if you’re the driver, such as slamming on the breaks or swerving out of the way. It’s also one reason your heart beats so quickly: to distribute adrenaline throughout the bloodstream, quickly.
Adrenaline masks pain. This is to help you respond to danger without being distracted. It takes time for the adrenaline to work its way out of your system, so several hours can pass before you start to feel the extent of your injuries.
The downside is that you could be seriously injured and not know it. For example, you won’t see a bone fracture or notice internal bleeding. Whiplash is another type of injury that can cause serious damage but that might not be all that painful immediately, if at all. And if you hit your head, you may feel perfectly fine and still be suffering from a brain injury.
A physical exam by a medical professional is the only way to reveal injuries that you might not feel yet or that aren’t showing any symptoms. Identifying them early is important to prevent further damage as well as optimize the healing process.
If you don’t go to the doctor immediately following an auto accident, you may lose credibility in insurance claims. For example, if you suffer a spinal injury, the effects might not be fully evident for days or even weeks after the incident. If you wait to see a doctor and then try to file a claim through an auto insurance company, the company may argue that your injuries arose from something after the accident.
But if you see a doctor immediately after the collision, the doctor can identify the injury on a scan (even if you don’t feel it). You’ll have solid evidence for your claim and will have a much easier time handling your medical bills.
If you live in the Maryland and Washington, DC Metro area and have been in a collision, call us at (301) 277-3555 to schedule a physical exam right away. Our office is geared to handle your injury evaluation and management on a walk-in or appointment basis.