How Important Is It To My Florida Personal Injury Case That I Seek Medical Attention Immediately Following A Car Accident?
It is very important to seek immediate medical attention right after a crash. This is true whether or not you “feel” injured. I have often seen cases where people were still in shock or pumped up from adrenaline immediately after a car crash, so they didn’t feel pain and didn’t immediately believe that they were injured. Many of these people actually did turn out to be injured, but they were only able to feel it once the immediate rush of adrenaline wore off. In addition, car accidents tend to cause injuries that may be harder to feel at first, and which only become fully evident with time. In any case, it is better to get on top of the injury as soon as possible.
First and foremost, it is important to seek care for your health. It is also important for building your personal injury case. If you don’t seek immediate medical attention, the presumption will be that it was offered and you refused it because you did not need it (and, ergo, were not injured).
In these cases, context obviously matters. Each type of injury that someone might get in a car accident is different, and presents differently on the body. Some injuries present more immediately and urgently than others, and it is possible to argue that therefore, some injuries may be less obviously pressing in their need for immediate care. For instance, if you had a car crash and you broke your leg or had a huge chest wound and didn’t go to the doctor, it would be one thing. It would be another thing if you got a whiplash-type injury where all you felt at first was a bit of a sore neck, no different than if you slept on it wrong.
In the latter case, you might not take your injury seriously right away, and could reasonably hope to walk it off. The level of pain at that point might be bearable enough that you don’t go to the doctor immediately, especially in the face of compelling distractions. In the direct aftermath of a crash, there are many different things that might demand your attention. First you have to deal with your car possibly being totaled, and all of the implications of not having a working car. Then you might remember everything you had to do that day: that the kids need to get picked up from school, that someone needs to go to the grocery store, that you have a work call in an hour, and so on. You might also still be a little dazed and in shock from the accident, so you might just work from muscle memory and attend to your responsibilities. There are many reasons, all of those included, that you might not go to the emergency room right away after an injury like whiplash, or even a herniated disc.
In this way, context matters. The defense will want to paint all injuries with the same brush, but it is a personal injury attorney’s job to show the nuance. It is best to get medical attention as soon as possible, but it is not the end-all be-all. It won’t destroy the case as long as you can show the contextual reasons for not going to the doctor immediately.
Once I Hire A Florida Personal Injury Attorney For My Car Accident Case, What Information Is It Critical To Share With Them?
You should share all background information with your attorney. This includes logistical information like the date, time, and location of the crash, as well as the names and contact information of the people involved (both in your car and the other car/cars).
You should also tell your attorney about any witnesses. These can be fact witnesses or lay witnesses.
Fact witnesses are people who observed the car crash directly. At the scene of any car crash, you should look for anyone who may have witnessed the crash, and get their names and contact information if possible. They can be crucial to creating a reliable narrative about what happened during the crash.
Lay witnesses are people who you knew—and who knew you—both before and after the crash. They can be just as essential to building a personal injury case as fact witnesses. Among other things, lay witnesses can attest to what they observed about your condition before and after the accident, as well as your experience of the accident. They can speak to how you reacted when the accident happened, how you felt, what you could and couldn’t do, and some of the things that changed for you, including physical, mental, and emotional changes. Lay witnesses can contribute to a case either pre-suit or during trial to paint a clearer picture of the non-economic damages incurred by the accident, which are largely pain and suffering damages that we can’t see. These damages are subjective, and are therefore strengthened by outside lay witnesses.
Generally, both fact witnesses and lay witnesses are important to building a case, and any information you have about any witnesses should be brought to your attorney’s attention.
In addition, you should give your attorney any medical information about the accident, as well as your medical history. Let your attorney know about the specific injuries you have been diagnosed with from the accident, as well as any treatments you received for those injuries. You should also tell your attorney about any accidents you may have gotten into before this one, as well as any prior injuries.
Giving your attorney an accurate and detailed picture of your driving and medical history is essential to their ability to build a compelling case on your behalf. The defendants in your case, often an insurance company, will know about all your prior traffic accidents, even if it was only one fender-bender with no injuries. If you have been in any accidents before this one, the insurance company will try to argue that you were injured in that accident rather than the one they are responsible for.
Giving your attorney as much information as possible about any past accidents and any injuries that came from them will help them defend you against opposition arguments. If, for instance, a doctor saw you directly after the fender bender and said you got some scrapes but otherwise had a clean bill of health, it will be more difficult for the insurance company to argue that your injury came from that prior accident.
As another example, let’s say you went to an ENT doctor three months before the crash to treat a sore throat. The medical records from that visit can be used to connect your crash-related injuries to the crash, rather than to a pre-existing condition. This is because every time you go to the doctor, best practices dictate that they ask about your medical history in general, and that they conduct a physical exam in-office and note any issues. They will also ask you how you’re feeling, and specifically if you’re feeling any pain. If you tell them that you don’t have any pain other than your sore throat, they will note that down in their records. Then, in three months when you get in a car crash and develop neck pain, you will have records indicating that the neck pain didn’t exist three months ago.
Therefore, it’s important to tell your attorney about your full medical history, including all medical visits. This is true for medical visits you feel are relevant to your accident-based injuries, as well as for any other medical visits.
These pieces of information are just some of the things you might want to share with your attorney. Your attorney will also ask you for any specific information they need, and you should always be 100% honest and forthcoming with them. If there are pieces of information you are unsure about sharing, you are advised to err on the side of sharing it rather than hiding it. This goes for any communications, pictures, videos, records, or any other information.
For more information on Auto Accidents In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 546-7608 today.