Personal injuries are very diverse, ranging widely in kind and severity. Though most will be obvious after an accident, it is worth bearing in mind that many will not be immediately apparent. That is why your first step after an accident should be to have a medical professional conduct a comprehensive examination as soon as possible to make sure nothing is overlooked, even if you are not yet experiencing pain or other symptoms. An early diagnosis can make all the difference in the world. Your second step should be to consult with an experienced attorney who can inform you of your rights and help you get started on the road toward legal compensation from the at-fault party. The legal team at Butler Kahn is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced injury attorney in Georgia.
Why Is It Legally Important to Seek Medical Attention Soon After a Crash?
It is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a crash to protect your right to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Having your injuries diagnosed and treated right away will help establish a link between the collision and the injuries you sustained. Further, this will ensure that your injuries and treatment are documented early on in the life of your case. Later, these records will become essential evidence used to calculate the value of your claim. If you do not seek medical attention right away, it can sometimes be hard to prove that your injuries were actually caused by the accident. It may also create room for the at-fault party and their insurers to argue that your injuries were not serious. In brief, the sooner you seek medical attention, the more easily your doctors can establish the true nature of your injuries.
What Are Some Common Examples of “Latent” Injuries After a Car Accident?
Injuries that are not immediately apparent after an accident are sometimes referred to as “latent” injuries. Depending on the injury, symptoms can take hours, days, weeks, or months to manifest. This also means that they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. The best way to make sure nothing is overlooked is to have a doctor evaluate you soon after the accident and keep them informed of new symptoms as you progress through your treatment plan. Latent injuries are quite diverse and difficult to generalize about beyond the fact that they take time to appear. That said, some of the most common examples we see as personal injury attorneys include the following:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – A blow or severe jolt to the head can cause a TBI. These injuries vary widely in severity. Some may result in short-term concussions and others in lifelong disabilities.
- Whiplash – Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are forcefully jerked or jolted in a motion resembling the crack of a whip. This sudden movement can do serious damage to the soft tissues in the neck. These injuries are common in car accidents. They often appear in the hours or days after an accident once the shock and adrenaline have worn off.
- Internal injuries – Because they are located within the body, these injuries are not always easily detected visually. They may range from minor bone fractures to serious organ damage. Often, they are only detected after symptoms worsen because they were left untreated.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – The psychological impact of many accidents and injuries should not be underestimated. In many cases, this kind of injury can seriously impact an individual’s day-to-day well-being. However, trauma victims do not always realize that they are suffering symptoms of PTSD until a significant amount of time has passed after an incident.
Should I Provide the At-Fault Party’s Insurer with a Medical Record Release?
Before consulting with an attorney, you should generally not release your records to the at-fault party’s insurer. If you file an injury claim or lawsuit, they will want to see your medical records to evaluate the extent of your injuries and gauge how much they might have to pay you. They will also scour your records for anything they can use to deny your claim. For example, they may try to find evidence that your injuries sustained in the accident were preexisting and, therefore, not covered under the at-fault driver’s liability policy. For these reasons, you should be very cautious when asked to provide a medical record release to insurers. Remember that you are not legally obligated to release your medical records, which are strictly protected under federal and state law, and that you will waive many of these protections by signing a release. Before doing so, it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney so they can review the records first and make sure you do not undermine your own right to seek compensation for your injuries.
What Compensation Could I Recover for My Injuries?
The amount of compensation you could recover after a crash will depend heavily on the nature and severity of your injuries. That said, you may be entitled to compensation for both the economic and noneconomic impact you suffer from your injuries and other losses. Our skilled legal team can help you pursue compensation for things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Damaged personal property
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in Georgia?
In most cases, Georgia law gives accident victims two years from the date they were injured to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. Courts enforce this deadline very strictly and nearly always dismiss cases filed after it passes. That said, there are certain exceptions that may extend the deadline. For example, if a latent injury was simply not detectable immediately after an accident, the countdown may start at whatever point in time it became detectable. However, to avoid complications proving that an injury was not detectable, it is much better that you be evaluated by a doctor and consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injuries sustained in accidents can range from mildly unpleasant to catastrophic. Though some do not appear immediately after an accident, they should not be overlooked or underestimated. At Butler Kahn, we understand how stressful and traumatic dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be. We hope the information provided on this page has been helpful to you. If you wish to discuss your legal rights and options going forward, do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.