Some car accident injuries are very obvious, and victims often receive immediate medical attention for these types of injuries. However, other injuries sustained during car crashes can take longer to manifest and get diagnosed. These late-diagnosed car accident injuries can lead to significant medical complications, and they can also make it harder for victims to receive full compensation following an accident.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how insurance companies use late diagnosis of car accident injuries against victims and explain what to do if your injuries developed or got diagnosed sometime after a wreck.
What Are Late-Diagnosed Injuries?
Unlike a broken bone, laceration, or other common car accident injury, a late-diagnosed injury is either undetectable or non-existent right after a collision. It may take hours, days, or even weeks to notice the extent of such an injury and its effects on your lifestyle and well-being.
Examples of injuries that frequently take time to display their full range of symptoms include:
- Brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Pinched nerves
- Muscle damage
- Internal bleeding
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
One common reason for delayed onset of symptoms is chemical in nature. After a traumatic event like a car wreck, your body produces adrenaline and endorphins that enter your bloodstream. These natural chemicals can temporarily boost energy and suppress pain.
In addition, soft tissue damage may not immediately show up on diagnostic imaging and can get worse as swelling, pain, and reduced mobility set in.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention After Any Car Accident
If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident, even a seemingly minor one, you should seek immediate medical attention. This is especially true if you’re noticing symptoms like neck or back pain, headaches, nausea, abdominal discomfort, or mood changes, but it even holds true if you think you’re perfectly fine.
Symptoms that might seem minor on their own could indicate a herniated disc, nerve damage, internal bleeding, PTSD, or other serious problems. Talk to your doctor about every symptom you’re experiencing. This way, the doctor can evaluate your condition, watch out for your long-term health, and create documentation that establishes your current and potential future medical costs.
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The Statute of Limitations Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
Every state has different statutes of limitations that determine how long after an incident you can initiate a lawsuit or other legal action. In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years.
Fortunately, late-diagnosed car accident injuries will most likely manifest within this time period, giving victims the chance to seek compensation for medical costs and losses. However, keep in mind that preparing a lawsuit takes time, so you’ll need to speak with an attorney well before this all-important two-year mark if you want to receive compensation for your injuries.
Wait to Sign a Release After a Wreck
A release of liability blocks any future claims and litigation related to a traffic accident. The other driver’s insurance company will likely offer you a monetary settlement to sign a release of liability, but you shouldn’t sign anything until you speak with an attorney.
If you sign a release of liability too soon (right after the accident or before a complete medical evaluation), you may cheat yourself out of full compensation for your injuries and close the door on any chance of filing claims for later costs that aren’t covered by the initial settlement offer. In general, you should only consider signing a release of liability after speaking with both an experienced attorney and a reputable physician who can determine that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which your doctors believe you have recovered as much as possible and that no further accident-related injuries or symptoms will appear.
Steps to Take for Late-Diagnosed Injuries
If you develop or discover an accident-related injury days or weeks after the incident, take the following steps:
- Schedule a doctor’s appointment to get a complete medical evaluation and estimate of all costs.
- Alert your doctors to any new symptoms that might be related to the accident.
- Consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you take advantage of all options for securing full compensation for your injuries.
Contact Atkins & Markoff for Help with Late-Diagnosed Car Accident Injuries
If you’re dealing with late-diagnosed or late-onset injuries from a car accident, contact the skilled, dedicated, and experienced legal team at Atkins & Markoff. We’ll move quickly to ensure a reputable physician accurately diagnoses your injuries, protects your long-term health, and documents your medical status for evidence in your personal injury claim. Our “no recovery, no fee” policy means you’ll never pay unless we help you secure compensation.
If you or someone you love has been in a car wreck and suffered injuries, call us today at (405) 561-3120 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney from the Atkins & Markoff team.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.