If you’re hurt in an accident caused by someone else in South Carolina, the at-fault motorist is responsible for your damages, including injuries you’ve sustained in the crash. You may file a claim against that driver’s insurance company for all medical expenses related to those injuries.
Immediately after your accident, however, you might not even realize you’re injured. The experience of being in a car wreck causes the body to produce endorphins and adrenaline, the fight-or-flight chemicals that give you strength and energy in a crisis. These chemicals can also mask the symptoms of your injuries right after a crash. You could feel fine and not know that you’re hurt until sometime later when the chemical balance in your body returns to normal.
Delayed Symptoms of South Carolina Car Accident Injuries
The symptoms of a delayed car crash injury will vary depending on the part of the body that is injured and the severity of the injury itself.
This is a very serious condition that could cost you your life if left untreated. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
In a car crash, tendons, muscles, and ligaments in the spine can be torn or strained, vertebrae damaged or misaligned, and spinal disks compressed. Symptoms are:
- Limited mobility
- Numbness in extremities
- Tight or swollen muscles
- Back and shoulder pain
Your head can snap back and forth from the impact of a car wreck, pulling and stretching the soft tissues of the neck. This can lead to:
- Reduced range of motion
- Pain and stiffness
If left untreated, these symptoms can persist indefinitely in some cases.
Mental Health Issues
Car crash victims can suffer shock or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a serious wreck. The symptoms can be just as serious as those of a physical injury:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety, depression, or apathy
- Fear of driving or riding in a motor vehicle
- Irritability or anger
- Racing thoughts
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A vehicle collision often results in brain injury if the victim’s head strikes the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. TBIs are characterized by:
- Mood swings
- Slurred speech
- Vision or hearing problems
- Balance issues
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Lost memory
- Lack of focus and concentration
Getting Medical Attention
Even if you’re free of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention right after a crash. If you’re not transported to a hospital from the scene of the wreck, go as soon as you can to one of the facilities listed below, explain that you’ve been in an accident, and request a thorough examination.
If you’ve suffered severe injuries and need immediate treatment or surgery, the ER has access to all hospital resources/facilities and can address catastrophic injuries. If you don’t have a severe injury, the ER doctor might just examine you and prescribe pain medication. In that case, you should schedule a follow-up visit with your own doctor.
Urgent Care Facility
You can probably schedule an appointment here more quickly than you can a visit with your own doctor, and time is a factor. The urgent care won’t have access to the equipment an ER does, and the doctor probably won’t know your medical history, but you can get an exam there and document your injuries.
Your Primary Doctor
It might take a while to get an appointment with your doctor, but you should follow up any emergency treatment with a visit to your regular physician. They will:
- Have access to your medical records
- Be aware of pre-existing conditions and able to show evidence they didn’t cause your current injuries
- Take an interest in your case and sufficient time for a thorough exam or follow-up to a previous one
A doctor’s exam, X-rays, and other procedures can reveal injuries you don’t realize you have and allow your doctor to begin treatment soon. Timely diagnosis and treatment are likely to mean a faster, more complete recovery. If you delay medical attention, you could aggravate your condition and suffer continued pain and other symptoms for an extended period of time.
Prevent a Disputed Claim
Another reason to seek immediate treatment after a vehicle accident is to document the injuries you’ve suffered in the crash. Doing so will strengthen your insurance claim. If you allow time to elapse between the wreck and your medical exam, you’re just giving ammunition to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Its adjusters are paid to dispute, devalue, or deny as many accident claims as they can to keep their company profitable. Any time lapse between your wreck and your exam/treatment gives the company an opening to:
- Suggest your injuries were caused by something other than your wreck
- Insist you’re not as seriously hurt as you say you are
- Offer you a lower settlement than you deserve or even deny your claim
Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and treatment guidelines. Keep receipts and all other documentation of your medical visits, prescriptions, and treatments.
The more serious your injuries and the more expensive your claim, the more likely the insurance company is to pressure you into accepting a quick, low settlement before you even know:
- The full extent of your health issues
- What treatment is required
- Your estimated recovery time
- Your total medical expenses