How Long Should You Wait to See a Doctor After a Car Accident in Salt Lake City?

Too many people make the mistake of waiting too long to see a doctor after being injured in a Utah car accident.  Delaying medical care can make it harder for you to obtain injury compensation, and worse, can be extremely dangerous for your health.  Salt Lake City car accident lawyer Darwin Overson explains why it is so critical to see a doctor as soon as possible after you have been in a crash or collision, even if you don’t believe you have sustained any serious injuries.

Why Crash Victims Must See a Doctor within 72 Hours of an Auto Accident

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Car accidents can occur anywhere in Utah, but are especially common in heavily-populated areas like Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and West Jordan.  According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, in 2014, there were 24,833 auto accidents in Salt Lake County alone.  That’s about 46% of the 54,036 accidents that were reported in Utah that year.

However, no matter where a crash takes place, it is likely to result in injury.  Unfortunately, the same DPS statistics reveal that 16,426 out of 54,036 crashes caused injury in 2014.  More than 23,000 people were hurt as a result.

If you are ever injured in a car crash, a truck accident, a motorcycle accident, or any other type of vehicular accident, it is extremely important that you seek medical care as soon as possible: specifically, within 72 hours of the accident occurring.  This simply cannot be stressed enough.

There are two major reasons it is so important to see a doctor right away after a crash.  The first reason, of course, is to diagnose and treat any injuries you may have sustained.  Even if you think you are fine, you should still see a doctor to rule out the possibility that you were injured.  Minor aches and pains can be indicators of a more serious, potentially life-threatening condition.  You may have no symptoms at all.

Thanks to the temporary pain-masking effects of adrenaline, it is common for crash victims to feel like they have not been badly injured, or have not been injured at all, after an accident has occurred.  The victim might not realize that anything is wrong until several hours or days have already passed, by which point it will likely be more difficult, more painful, and more costly to treat the injury.

Remember, not all injuries are obvious.  Even a very serious injury, such as a fractured rib, can linger undetected beneath the skin, which is part of why prompt medical evaluation is so important.  Car crash whiplash, for example, is the number one “most frequently reported injur[y] in U.S. insurance claims,” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – yet it doesn’t leave any visible marks on the body.  Other internal injuries that can result from car accidents include:

  • ACL Injuries
  • Brain Injuries
  • Bulging Disc Injuries
  • Closed Fractures
  • Concussions
  • Herniated Disc Injuries
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Kidney Damage
  • Liver Damage
  • Nerve Damage
  • Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung)
  • Torn Ligaments (Sprain Injuries)
  • Torn Muscle Fibers (Strain Injuries)
  • Torn Rotator Cuffs

Only a doctor can safely identify and treat injuries that have been caused by a car accident.  If you try to nurse yourself back to health using home remedies, you could make your injury much worse.  Furthermore, medical records are a critical piece of evidence in settlement negotiations.

How Delaying Medical Care Affects the Value of Your Car Accident Claim

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Obviously, your health is the most important reason to see a doctor immediately after you are in a car crash.  However, there is also another reason, which pertains to insurance and compensation.

The 72-hour figure may seem arbitrary, but there’s a specific reason this is the cut-off: auto insurance companies have generally determined that 72 hours is a reasonable amount of time in which to seek medical attention.  As a result, any delays beyond this point can adversely affect your ability to get compensated for your medical bills and other damages.

You should save every single piece of paperwork and documentation that comes out of your medical appointments, including but not limited to:

  • Any notes you receive from your doctor.
  • Bills for any medical services you received.
  • Prescription slips.
  • Scheduling emails.
  • Travel expenses related to your medical care.

Keep these items clearly dated, labeled, and organized in a safe folder or storage bin.  You should also make a set of back-up copies (or screenshots, for digital materials), just in case anything gets lost or goes missing.  You can seek medical care at or from a(n):

  • Accident Doctor
  • Chiropractor
  • Family Physician
  • Emergency Department
  • Urgent Care Center

Contact a Salt Lake City Auto Accident Attorney About Injury Compensation in Utah

If you were in an auto accident in Utah, do not try a “wait and see” approach.  You only have 72 hours to see a doctor for an evaluation.  Once this window closes, it becomes more difficult to get the compensation you deserve.  More importantly, you may have been seriously hurt, and need to be examined as soon as possible.

Once you have received medical care, an experienced Utah vehicle accident lawyer can fight for compensation on your behalf.  Car crash attorney Darwin Overson has over 33 years of experience handling auto accident claims, and has helped numerous personal injury victims get compensation for their medical bills, lost earnings, and other damages.  To talk about your injury claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law as soon as possible at (801) 895-3143.


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