When Should I Go to the Doctor After a Car Accident in St. Petersburg?
December 28, 2022 | Winters & Yonker, P.A. | Car Accident
If you suffer a car accident in St. Petersburg, Florida, you should seek immediate medical attention if you believe there is even a possibility that you might have suffered an injury. If the accident was even partly someone else’s fault, failure to seek prompt medical treatment could damage or even kill an otherwise lucrative personal injury claim.
When Do I Go to the Doctor?
After a car accident, you should seek a car accident doctor without delay—preferably in the emergency room. You might wonder, “How can I find a car accident doctor near me?” Leave that to the ambulance driver after you call 911.
If you break your leg, the odds are you will realize it immediately after the accident. Some injuries, however, take time to manifest symptoms. This is a dangerous scenario because your lack of immediate symptoms might tempt you to delay medical treatment until your symptoms finally manifest. By then, you might have seriously damaged your personal injury claim.
Why Your Symptoms Might Not Show Up Immediately
An injury accident can be a traumatic experience. Under such hyper-stressful conditions, your body produces adrenaline and endorphins, which enhance your readiness to deal with a crisis. Since pain hinders your reaction to a crisis, these chemicals can anesthetize your pain. You might interpret your lack of pain as evidence that you were not injured. In that case, the same stress response that benefits you physically will work against you legally and financially.
Other injuries fail to manifest immediate symptoms due to the nature of the injury itself. Back, neck, and shoulder soft tissue injuries can take hours, days, and sometimes even weeks to fully manifest their symptoms. When it comes to brain injuries, remember that your brain contains no nerves and, therefore, cannot “ache.” This means brain injuries sometimes exhibit delayed symptoms.
The PIP Insurance Deadline
Florida administers a no-fault auto insurance system. Unless your injuries are serious, you must file a claim against your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Florida law requires you to purchase a PIP policy with a maximum payout of at least $10,000.
Most PIP policies require the insured to report their accident within 14 days of its occurrence. If you are claiming medical expenses, you will need to have sought medical help before you file your claim. Check the exact language of your policy to ensure the exact deadline. If you are still not sure, talk to your lawyer.
The Consequences of Delaying Medical Treatment
You can be certain that the opposing party will use every trick in the book to exploit your failure to seek timely medical treatment. Following is a description of two of the most common objections to liability arising from failure to seek prompt medical treatment.
The Causation Problem
If you delay medical treatment, the defendant or the insurance company might claim that your injuries did not occur until after your car accident. If you delay treatment for your head injury for a week, for example, the insurance company might claim that your head injury occurred during that week.
Such a claim will be difficult for you to refute since the burden of proof is on you to show that the defendant caused your head injury. If your injuries did not occur until after the accident, the accident couldn’t have caused them. Unfortunately, causation is an indispensable element of a personal injury claim.
Failure To Mitigate Damages
If you fail to seek prompt medical treatment, your symptoms could worsen during your delay. If they do, you will be ineligible to collect compensation for any worsening of your condition. Although you can still collect compensation for your original condition (before your symptoms worsened), the exact severity of your original condition might not be easy to prove.
When in Doubt, Contact a St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer
It might be too late to avoid the consequences of the failure to seek immediate medical treatment. Fortunately, there are ways to fight back, at least if you have retained an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you. You have little to lose by scheduling a free initial case consultation with a lawyer. Remember, most personal injury lawyers in St. Petersburg will charge you nothing unless you win.
Contact the St. Petersburg Car Accident Law Firm of Winters & Yonker, P.A. for Help Today
For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in St. Petersburg today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.