You’re in a car accident. Everything happened so fast, and you’re still reeling from the experience even though the accident wasn’t your fault. However, when the police or an EMT offered you medical assistance at the scene of the accident you turned them down. You may have gotten a few bumps during the ordeal, but you don’t really feel any pain. Why would you need a doctor? After the shock starts to wear off, it is common for many of our clients to start feeling pain and discomfort a short while after the accident. This may be while the EMTs are still on the scene or within hours of the accident.
What Are Latent Injuries?
When you’re in a car accident, your body releases endorphins like adrenaline that increase your energy and strength while reducing the level of pain you feel from injuries. Because of this, many people who have been in car accidents initially refuse medical treatment at the scene of the accident, even when seriously injured, because they feel little to no pain. They believe, at the time, that their injuries are nothing more than cuts and bruises.
However, internal injuries to bones, soft tissue, or even your brain can occur without immediately showing external signs. These injuries, which can appear anywhere from several days to several weeks after an accident, are called “latent injuries.” Unfortunately, these difficult-to-see latent injuries are also the types that can lead to more serious medical problems if left untreated. There are many different forms of injury that can follow this latency pattern of emerging after an accident, with some of the most common types being:
- Other “soft tissue” damage
- Concussion, or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back injuries, such as herniated disks
- Spinal cord injuries
- Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions
If you experience headaches, blurry vision, problems with focusing, trouble sleeping, swelling, numbness, spasming, or any other painful symptoms that might seem minor alone, these may be signs that you have sustained an injury. In that case, it is important to seek medical treatment right away so that you can receive the necessary treatment.
How Can I Make Sure the Insurance Company Pays?
When making an insurance claim following an accident, even if doing so with another driver’s insurance company, you should file a report with your carrier first to make sure there’s a record of your accident. This will help you if other injuries appear down the line. Most insurance policies will simply tell you to report your accident “promptly” or “within a reasonable time,” without providing a specific deadline by which you are required to report. While some states, like New York, do have statutes that create a hard deadline, New Hampshire has no such requirement.
It’s also important to know that the deadline for filing an insurance claim is not the same as the deadline for filing a lawsuit against another person or an insurance company when another driver is at fault for your injuries. In New Hampshire, an injured person has three years from the date of an auto accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, which means that latent injuries will almost certainly appear before the deadline.
What Else Should I Do?
After a car accident, the most helpful thing you can do is to see a doctor even if you are only experiencing minor pain or discomfort. The sooner you have your injuries examined, the better your chances of treating it before it transforms into a much bigger and more painful problem.
You should also secure experienced legal counsel to represent you as soon as possible. Often times, insurance companies will attempt to convince victims of car accidents to hastily sign releases of liability for their injuries by offering a lump-sum settlement quickly after an accident. Then, when latent injuries emerge, victims may be unable to recover anything for their medical bills and other costs. An experienced car accident and personal injury attorney can help you organize your claims, help you know when to make a claim, and help you determine who should pay for your injuries.
Do you believe you may have been seriously injured in an auto accident but are unsure what to do next? You need advice from attorneys who know how to help the victims of auto accidents, and who can get you the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., have just the experience you need. Our office can be reached at (603) 288-1403 or through our online contact form.