You Were Hurt In a Car Accident – Now What?
If you follow no other rule after a getting hurt in a car accident, follow this one: visit your doctor for all injuries, big and small.
Time does not always heal all wounds, and what starts outs as a minor problem can easily become a life-threating problem. If your car is struck by a semi while you are driving to work and you feel the slightest ache or tingle in your neck, you should get in the ambulance and visit the emergency room. The same goes for the minor fender bender, because minimal damage to the body of your vehicle does not necessarily mean minimal damage to your human body. Even after seeing an emergency room doctor, a visit to your private doctor is warranted after any type of injury.
Your private doctor should know about every trip to the emergency room and the after-hours clinic you take. Do not assume that your injuries have been seen one doctor, so another doctor is not needed. That final trip to your private doctor for one last checkup is essential to the proper care of your body. Book the earliest appointment your doctor has available to ensure small injuries do not blossom into larger health problems.
Once an accident has occurred, there are four reasons you need to see your doctor as soon as possible:
1. Your doctor will thoroughly evaluate your injuries and determine the best course of treatment.
2. Your doctor will inform you of necessary restrictions for your daily life. For example, if you should not lift anything over fifty pounds or drive for a few days, you won’t know those activities are dangerous without a visit to your doctor.
3. If someone else is liable for your injuries, you will need validation of your injuries from your doctor. Your doctor will typically be required to fill out forms regarding the nature and severity of your injuries.
4. Your doctor will document your injuries and the cause of those injuries, which will help in the future as they are required to make further decisions regarding your health and treatment of other conditions. Doctors must have a complete background of a patient in order to make the best decisions when treating the patient.
What Your Doctor Needs to Know
When you call your doctor to book an appointment, tell them that you had an accident and may require more time than a standard appointment. This ensures your doctor is not rushed and can take their time evaluating your injuries and listening to the information you provide them. You can make a list of your concerns and questions ahead of time, but you will also want to tell your doctor the date and time of the accident. Your doctor will need to know how long it has been since the injuries were sustained.
You will also want to give a full description for every ache, pain, and injury on your body. Start at the top of your head and work down to your toes, describing the type of injury sustained and the amount and type of pain experienced from each injury. It is important to let your doctor know how frequent each injury causes pain and how long those incidents of pain typically last.
You should also describe the nature of the pain, such as noting radiating, needle-like, sharp, dull, or shooting pain. Numbness, tingling, and burning sensations should be reported as well. Your doctor will also need to know what activities or movements tend to cause pain, such as twisting to the side, bending to the floor, or sitting for an extended period of time. If standing up and sitting down or walking causes pain, make sure to tell your doctor that as well.
For injuries sustained at work, make sure your doctor is aware of the activities required by your position. You should also ask your doctor if your work activities can be safely performed while you heal from your injury. Your doctor may allow you to continue working without restriction, issue restrictions to limit the types of work you complete, or write you out of work for a given period of time. Make sure to ask for a note from the doctor explaining these terms, and give your employer a copy while keeping one for your own records.
Obey Doctor’s Orders
Whether you have fractured your ankle or strained soft tissue, there is no substitute for your doctor’s expertise. Trust that your doctor’s treatment recommendations are issued in order to make you better. This means that not following doctor’s orders will stand in the way of your body healing properly. You may be prescribed medication and ordered to rest, or you may be assigned to massage therapy, physical therapy, or to visit the hospital for further testing. Whatever your doctor orders, it is essential that you obey.
What happens if you do not follow doctor’s orders?
There are many unpleasant consequences to not obeying:
- Your body will take much longer to heal, and you may eventually have to obey even stricter doctor’s orders to heal an exasperated condition.
- Your pain may increase, rather than decreasing.
- ICBC will have a solid case against you for not allowing your body to heal properly. This can affect your ability to collect what you are rightfully owed.
Are You Out of Work?
If an accident leaves you unable to work due to pain or the nature of your injuries, you need to present a solid case to collect for lost wages. Your case will be more solid if your doctor states in writing that you are unable to work due to the nature and/or extent of your injuries. If you need to file for lost wages quickly, bring the appropriate forms to your doctor’s appointment so they can be filled out on the spot.
Your case becomes weaker the longer you delay visiting your doctor. Documentation of your injuries and the necessary treatments does not begin until you attend that first official appointment with your doctor. Each time you visit your doctor for those injuries, the documentation of your injuries heightens. Your doctor’s notes will include all injuries sustained, the treatments undergone, and your rate of recovery. Your doctor will use those notes to write medical reports, which will be valuable evidence when you need to prove the damage to your body and the losses you have sustained as a result of the accident.
Your doctor may refer you to specialists for further treatment of your injuries, and that will provide further documentation of your injuries and losses. Your doctor’s records will be used as a starting point to inform these specialists of your injuries. If your injuries fail to heal properly, you will be more likely to require attention from a specialist.