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Interviewer: Is there an amount of time that can pass where it’s too late to go to the doctor?

Often, Injuries Sustained in a Vehicle Collision Do Not Immediately Manifest

Harry Williams: Yes. If a person is injured in an accident, many times they may not immediately feel the effects of the accident. Some injuries do not manifest immediately.

There are reasons for that. There’s a rush of adrenaline. They may be in partial shock. The first thing they do is they call their spouse or a family member and they’re not thinking about being injured. They’re thinking about, well, what happened? If they’re not feeling pain at that moment in time, if they took a pretty good hit, there’s a good chance they’re going to start feeling pain or discomfort later in the day or in the evening or the next day.

We’re all familiar with it. If you’ve ever worked out with weights or you run or you do a cardiovascular workout and you haven’t done that in a long time, all of a sudden you decide, “I’m going to work out,” and you do way too much. You might feel great immediately after, but that night or the next morning you’re going to be feeling the pain associated with that workout.

If You Are Feeling Any Pain or Discomfort, Do Not Wait More Than 2 to 3 Days to Seek Medical Care

That happens a lot of times when somebody’s injured. If they don’t feel pain or discomfort immediately after and they feel it that night or the next morning, they need to get into the doctor that day or the next day. It’s probably okay to wait two or three days to see if the pain will start to go away. If they wait too long, then the insurance company later has an argument that, “Well, they weren’t hurt very badly because they’ve waited two weeks before they went to the doctor,” or a week.

Waiting Any Longer May Harm a Potential Personal Injury Case

Of course, there are some people that experience pain right away after an auto accident. Usually those people end up getting transported to the emergency room by an ambulance that the police officer might call. It’s the person who doesn’t feel the pain right away or thinks, “Oh, it’s not too bad. I’ll wait,” if they wait more than four or five days to go get treatment, then they’re starting to harm their case.

If they’re feeling pain in the first couple of days, they need to seek appropriate medical care. If there needs to be any medicines that need to be dispensed or any x-rays done or any current treatment that needs to be started immediately, then that needs to be done. That’s the primary reason to see a doctor right away.

The secondary reason is you don’t want to give the insurance company opportunity to argue later on, if it goes to trial, that you weren’t hurt very badly because you waited a week or two to get to the doctor.

The other factor is if a person is transported to the hospital by ambulance to the E.R., the emergency room doctor checks the person out, may do x-rays, and gives him a discharge sheet saying, “Take this medication and if you don’t feel better in two weeks, contact your doctor.” That happens a lot.