So you just got into a minor car accident.
After you collect yourself from the jarring hit of the other driver, you move your neck around, check for any blood in the rearview mirror and step out of the vehicle.
You mostly feel fine, just a little soreness here and there – in the neck, in the lower back, across your chest from the seatbelt restraint.
You are pretty tough and don’t normally complain. You certainly are not going to do it now and just want to get home so you can take two Advils and go to sleep it off.
After you exchange information with the other driver and give the police officer your version of events on how this other driver hit you, you finally make it home after a few painstaking hours.
A nice hot bath. Check. Favorite Netflix show check. Two Advils. Check.
You pass out within just minutes of your head sinking into the pillow as episode #1 of the Tiger King lulls you to bed.
The Next Morning
To your surprise, the next morning you are in pain. Your neck hurts, you can’t really move your back too much without pain and your chest is throbbing.
Shocked at how much pain and how immobile you are, you do yourself to gather your things and head for the emergency room.
Once you get there, talk to the triage nurse and are waiting in the exam room to talk to a doctor you wonder what went wrong. What could I possibly have? It was just a minor accident, how could I be in so much pain.
The Hard Truth
Unfortunately, the mechanics of car accidents are such that even a slow-moving accident, 20 MPH or less, can cause serious damage to your body and person. Depending on how you got hit you could have many different types of injuries and some of the most common ones can go undiagnosed for months because you just deal with the pain.
Some of the types of injuries that are serious but oftentimes are not evaluated quickly by a doctor are as follows. If you are feeling any pain in your neck, back, chest, or other parts that were directly impacted, you should go see a doctor immediately.
We have all heard of this one. To the point where it may not even seem like a serious injury to see a doctor over. But, whiplash, believe it or not, can be considered a brain injury. It occurs mainly in rear-end collisions where a driver’s or passenger’s neck instantly snaps back and then forth, like the cracking of a whip. Symptoms may include: dizziness, blurred vision, soreness in neck and shoulders, pain radiating away from the neck into shoulder blades, arms and fingers; headaches starting at the base of the skull, and others.
Depending on the severity of the impact the injury can be one that resolves in just a few weeks, treated with over the counter medication or, may last much longer, requiring physical therapy or surgery. The jerkiness associated with rear-end collisions can cause the discs in your neck to herniate (move out of place) and compress your spinal nerve. This leads to another very common injury:
In your spine you have bony vertebrae stacked one on top of the other with a layer of collagen-like material called discs in between. The discs allow for the free and painless movement of your spine. Your spine is segmented into three sections: cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back). When you are in a rear-end collision, the most common places for a disc injury are your cervical and lumbar spine, because of the force and direction of that force snapping your back and neck. The thoracic area is often not affected because it requires tremendous force to move discs in that area, however, your cervical and lumbar discs could easily be moved (or herniated) out of place and compress the spinal cord in such a way as to cause you tingling in your fingers or toes, pain down your leg, headaches and a panoply of other symptoms.
With car accident law, disc herniations can be very costly to repair via conservative means or surgery. Usually, a course of steroid injections is applied after physical therapy. Often times, the injections fail and the spine doctor will recommend a rhizotomy (burning of the nerve endings causing your pain). If that fails to permanently work, spine surgery is usually employed to relieve the symptoms.
Surgery can include discectomy, laminectomy, or fusion, depending on the type of herniation you have, its location, your physical condition, and other relative factors. Insurance adjusters are very familiar with how back treatments work, so following the strict protocols of the spine surgeon are absolutely necessary in order to maximize your recovery.
Bruised Ribs / Chest Pain.
Even though the seat belt does its job of holding you in place so you don’t end up 20 feet in front of your car with your head bleeding on the side of the road, it doesn’t mean that it saves your life pain-free. Often times accident victims will suffer from bruised or broken ribs which are very painful. The ribs are not the strongest part of your body and can easily be cracked. There is not much you can do about it, but allow yourself to heal. Often times the pain of it can be so intolerable that you wouldn’t even notice that you have back pain until months later after your ribs have healed.
That’s why it is important to go to your doctor immediately after an accident to get a full-body workup if you have pain in multiple places. A doctor doing a full post-accident exam will be able to get you the testing you need to make sure you don’t have a herniated disc or a cracked rib. If those get left untreated for a few months after your accident, then the insurance adjuster might tell you to get lost when you demand payment for treatment of those injuries.
So, it is absolutely imperative that you go see a doctor immediately or else you could lose your opportunity to get paid for your injuries and get money for the treatment you may need now and in the future. Insurance companies prey on accident victims who don’t have attorneys, because they know you don’t know what to do. They rely on your lack of knowledge to limit how much they should pay you. This is one of the many reasons to start working with an auto accident lawyer in New Orleans, LA right away.
In the end, if you are in a car accident ranging from getting hit by an eighteen-wheeler truck or minor fender bender on the way home from work, the most important thing you can do for your claim and your health is to not wait to get treated until it gets really bad. Too much time may pass and the gap in getting treated doesn’t help your claim.
So, when you have any symptoms as mentioned above go to the doctor. These typical injuries can pay you damages north of five to six figures, which you may need to get back on to the road to recovery without putting you in the poorhouse from all the medical bills you may encounter.
Thanks to Ultimate Accident Law for their insight into personal injury claims and car accident injuries.