Slow Onset of Injuries
Our law firm and everyone who works here is constantly analyzing the details of medical records and discussing in depth how our clients are feeling after sustaining serious injury. Medically speaking, one of the most interesting but consistent things that we hear from our clients is that injuries take days and sometimes weeks to show themselves in stiffness, pain, and discomfort. One of the most common things we hear is our clients looking back at the scene of a car accident and reflecting on how they did not feel pain at the time. Very injured people commonly decline medical transportation and don’t even feel the need to go to their own doctor or chiropractor the day of an auto accident. They will tell police officers that they are not hurt when in just a week or so they will come to realize that they might have been seriously injured.
Insurance companies that we are battling on behalf of our clients love to take little facts like that from the scene, or the absence of emergent treatment, and use that as an excuse that our clients are exaggerating the nature of their accident and injuries. We do not let them get away with that. At the scene of an accident the forces of “fight or flight,” are in play and adrenaline takes hold of the body. A good natured person will immediately be more concerned about the well-being of their passengers or the person that caused the accident than themselves. Even immediate pain isn’t always excruciating when the body is in this state and one can tough it out for a few hours. There is a concern about clearing the road, giving a statement to the police, and calling your insurance company. Let me be the one to warn you now; if you are hurt it’s going to show itself in the coming days so don’t push it. Spinal injuries are like this- they manifest slowly. Stretched ligaments, strained muscles, and disc injuries won’t always quickly alarm your body of the trauma they just experienced like the pain of a broken bone or laceration would.
The importance of this nuance about injuries is three-fold. Number one, it’s easy to do too much physically after the crash not realizing that you have sustained a serious injury. It’s better to play it safe and wait a week or so and pay attention to the signals from your body about discomfort. After two weeks or so following a crash if you are still pain free, you are probably okay. Number two, a quick exam with a chiropractor or physical therapist can get you a tremendous amount of information about what you have been through even if your pain levels are low. Thirdly, don’t tell the insurance company anything about being hurt or feeling great for that window of time. They love to record those types of comments and use them against you later if the injuries do end up manifesting themselves. The statute of limitations on accident injury claims is four years, so there is plenty of time to assess the physical fallout from a crash. There’s no need to discuss the issue in haste.