What is a Gap or Delay in Medical treatment after a Car Accident?
Delayed treatment is when you are involved in a Car Accident but choose to put off medical care. Whereas, a gap in treatment is when you have already been treated by an Accident Doctor but do not follow through with your future appointments. However, both delayed treatment and gaps in treatment can damage your personal injury claim, lead to additional pain and increase recovery time. Let’s discuss how gaps or delayed treatment can affect your life after a serious car accident.
Seek medical care within 72 hours if possible
To begin, you should seek medical care within 72 hours of your car accident if possible. We generally recommend seeking immediate medical care after a serious car accident. However, if your car wreck happened on the weekend, then you can always seek care first thing Monday morning. Delayed medical treatment is when you ignore this advice by putting off all medical care after a Car Accident. Delays in auto accident treatment increases your odds of further injury and increased pain.
Gaps in treatment are similar to delays in that they may hurt your personal injury claim; however, they may have different physical effects. For example, gaps in treatment will likely slow down the recovery and rehabilitation process. Both gaps and delayed treatment should be avoided at all costs after a serious automobile accident. It is important to seek immediate medical attention after any car accident and follow the advice of your Accident Physician.
Delayed car accident Injuries
Delayed car accident injuries happen for a number of reasons. When you have been injured in a car accident, your body releases its natural pain killers called endorphins. Endorphins might stay in your body for days after your car wreck. Endorphins can make it appear that you are not injured and delay other signs of injury. It is possible that you may not feel the effect the accident has left to your body for days or maybe even weeks.
What are the most common Delayed car accident Injuries?
The most common delayed or late appearing injuries are soft tissue injuries. A soft tissue injury might have a delayed onset of pain. Broken bones may have immediate pain, but not a soft tissue injury. Soft tissue injuries may include:
- contusions (bruises)
Delayed onset of pain caused by endorphins
Soft tissue injuries sometimes have a delayed onset of pain and discomfort because of the endorphins we discussed earlier. Pain is the most common factor leading to the release of endorphins. Endorphins interact with the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. Endorphin release varies among individuals. This means that two people who suffer the same degree of pain will not necessarily produce similar levels of endorphins.
Do I still need to see a Doctor if I do NOT have pain after my car accident?
Generally speaking, you should always get checked out by a qualified Accident Doctor after any car collision. Regardless of your pain levels or even if you don’t feel much pain at all, you should get examined by an Accident Physician. Many auto accident injuries, such as whiplash and soft tissue damage, can take several days or even weeks to feel. In addition, the pain or numbness from soft tissue injuries is oftentimes not the origin or source of damage. Integrated medicine uses a combination of Medical Doctors, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists to help treat and identify auto accident injuries.
Whiplash is another common auto accident injury that may be hard to identify. It can occur at speeds as low as 5 mph and may lead to long term pain with delayed lack of treatment. Whiplash happens when the neck or spine is forcibly pulled in a back and forth motion. This violent motion causes micro tears in the muscles surrounding the neck and throat, which may lead to swelling and/or stiffness.
Unfortunately, many of these whiplash and soft tissue injuries will lay dormant for days or even months. Delayed treatment or gaps in treatment may increase the chances of scar tissue as well as muscle degeneration and arthritis. Get the Car Accident treatment you deserve from a qualified Injury Physician.
Do I have to see an Accident Doctor to qualify for PIP coverage?
To qualify for Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, you are required to see a Doctor within 14 days of the Auto Accident. Otherwise, you could risk losing all of your PIP or No Fault coverage. However, you should seek immediate medical treatment if you have serious car accident injuries.
How will an Injury Doctor help after my Car Accident?
Auto Accident Physicians are specially trained in the treatment of serious car collision injuries. However severe, a qualified team of Accident Doctors will work together to develop a long term treatment plan. The dangers of delayed treatment can affect both your health and recovery, as well as your personal injury claim. A good Accident Doctor will document all of your injuries immediately following your car collision, as well as all treatments and medications provided. This is important for several reasons.
One, insurance companies are not always friendly when it comes to paying for your medical bills after a car accident. And, of course, the insurance company will use delayed treatment as a sign that you are not really injured. Proper documentation of your injuries, within the 14-day PIP window, is mandatory for a good personal injury case. Moreover, we recommend that get checked by a qualified Accident Physician within 72 hours of the car accident.
Two, good documentation of your injuries and treatment may be needed if your case goes to court. In addition, you will need an Accident Doctor who understands and is willing to provide expert testimony about your auto injuries in court. Generally speaking, your Accident Doctor’s testimony and your medical documentation are the two most important items for insurance companies.
Three, integrated medicine combines treatment from Medical Physicians, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists. Each Auto Accident Doctor combines their field of specialty into one comprehensive treatment plan. Documentation is necessary to give each Car Wreck Doctor access to all treatments provided.
Is medication enough for my Car Accident Injuries?
There are situations where medications, whether over the counter or prescription, will help with Car Wreck Injuries. While pain relief drugs are often necessary after a serious auto collision, medications will only provide temporary relief. Medications can help to both relieve pain and reduce swelling as a result of whiplash or other serious auto accident injuries. However, while medications can help control or mask symptoms in the short term, they generally have little to do with long term recovery. Many people mistake a lack of pain as an absence of deeper injuries, which is one example of how medications can give you a false sense of reality. Hands on treatment, combined with proper pain management, is oftentimes the best solution to lasting health and recovery. Drugs alone, cannot prevent long term pain and misery.
Should I go to my Family PCP to avoid delayed treatment?
Unfortunately, your Family Doctor generally will not treat your auto accident injuries. While your Family PCP knows more about you than any other Doctor, there are several reasons why they cannot help you after a car collision. One, your Family Doctor cannot accept auto insurance, LOP from an attorney or other third party billing options. Two, your Family PCP is not prepared to document or represent your case in court. Three, your Family PCP may not be prepared to treat the scope of injuries that come from a serious auto accident.
Your Family PCP will generally accept health insurance or payment in cash. Patients often ask if they can use their health insurance for treatment of their car accident injuries. Of course, we all know the answer to this question. You cannot use health insurance for car collision injuries. The claim will most likely be denied by your health insurance company, which leaves you with the medical bills.
Auto Accident Myths that lead to Delayed Treatment
“Not damage to your vehicle means no medical treatment”
While we have all heard this myth before, it could not be further from the truth. Many people mistakenly believe that the amount of car damage is somehow connected to the medical treatment allowed. PIP and NO Fault insurance provides coverage for all of the passengers involved in a car wreck, regardless of who was at fault. Again, whiplash and other serious injuries can happen at very low speeds, and lead to lasting pain if left untreated.
“If you don’t feel pain, then you are not really injured”
There is a common misconception that if you don’t feel pain then you are not really injured. Of course, Accident Physicians are all too familiar with whiplash and other soft tissue injuries that can take weeks to truly feel the damage. In addition, all PIP states allow you medical treatment regardless of fault, and you can use the full amount allowed in your state. Don’t be fooled into thinking that no pain means no injury.
“No broken bones means that you do not need medical treatment”
Another silly myth in the car accident world is that you need a broken bone to get treatment. While X-Rays, MRI or CT scans can identify broken bones and fractures, they cannot locate soft tissue injuries or whiplash. Noticeable, visible injuries are easy to identify, whereas soft tissue injuries require hands on treatment. Not to mention, soft tissue damage is one of the most common forms of auto accident injuries.
There is a myth that a lack of objective findings exempts the patient from serious injury. Similar to a delay in the onset of symptoms, visible findings may not be noticeable right away on x-rays, MRI or CT films. But with time and deterioration, these weaknesses may develop in to pain with or without tangible findings. Left untreated, whiplash and other soft tissue injuries may lead to a life of pain and difficulty. In addition, most STIs are not detectable using X-Rays, MRI or other imaging devices.
Other commonly recognized auto accident symptoms include numbness in the arms and hands, headaches, stiffness or lack of motion, dizziness and memory loss. Many of these automobile accident injuries can lead to chronic, long term pain and difficulty if not treated in a timely manner. Delayed medical care or gaps in treatment will only complicate your recovery.
What if you have already delayed your medical treatment after a Car Accident?
Let’s say you have been injured in a car accident. You go to the emergency room and they prescribe you some painkillers and muscle relaxers before sending you home. However, after taking the drugs until they run out you are still in pain. Your next step is contacting your PCP who cannot see you for another two weeks. Two weeks later you find out that your Family Doctor cannot treat your auto accident injuries, and therefore cannot prescribe additional pain medication.
This is a common scenario after a car accident. Of course, the patient then calls us after the 14 day PIP deadline and are forced to pay out of pocket for all medical treatment. Contact a qualified Accident Doctor today if you have been involved in a serious car accident. No auto accident is the same and every injury requires special medical treatment. You still have rights if you have been injured in a car collision and missed the 14 day PIP deadline. For example, you can use a LOP from an injury attorney to get medical care.
What happens if you have gaps in your medical care?
There is very little that can be done about gaps or delays in medical treatment after a car accident. The insurance company may use this as evidence against you if your case goes to court, claiming that you were not truly injured. On the other hand, you are the only one who can control your treatment, which gives you power over your recovery. Make sure to document all of your auto accident injuries and follow the treatment plan outlined by your team of Accident Doctors.
Additional Dangers of Gaps in Treatment
During your first visit to an Accident Doctor, your Injury Physician will provide a detailed treatment plan. This plan will include some combination of pain management, Medical care, Chiropractic care and Physical Therapy. It is then up to you, the patient, to continue with your treatment plan until rehabilitation is complete. In addition, a good Accident Injury Clinic will follow up during each phase of your treatment plan.
Gaps and delays in treatment may hamper the recovery process and gives the insurance company a reason to question your personal injury claim. Gaps in treatment are included in your auto accident documentation, which may be questioned by the insurance company. In addition, your Accident Physician may be forced to honestly testify about your treatment in court.
What if I didn’t go to the Emergency Room, is that considered “Delayed Treatment”?
There is no law that say you must go to the Emergency Room after a car collision. Maybe your car accident was minor and your injuries don’t require a visit to the ER. Or perhaps you were rear ended and have noticeable neck pain, but you don’t want to deal with the ER only to be sent home with pain medications. A visit to the ER will not affect your personal injury claim for good or bad. The Emergency Room can help diagnose your car accident injuries but will not provide long term treatment. Moreover, the ER will generally tell you to follow up with an Accident Doctor after your visit.