It is human nature to want to put bad things behind us. Nobody wants the complications that come with a serious injury, hospital visit, medical bills, and ongoing treatment and rehab. In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, it is tempting to avoid all of these potential problems by assuming that you were not injured and that life can go on as normal. Unfortunately, this is not usually the smartest move, particularly if the crash was caused by another driver. If you were involved in a car accident, regardless of how you feel at the scene, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Some Serious Injuries Are Not Immediately Obvious
People who have been in a vehicle crash often describe the collision as coming out of nowhere. This shock to the system often creates a rush of adrenaline, which is the body’s defense mechanism to protect you from danger. The adrenaline allows you to overcome the shock and confusion to get out of the car and to safety. It can also mask any injuries or pain the crash might have caused. Unless you have suffered catastrophic injuries and are unconscious, bleeding, unable to move, or in extreme pain, you could leave the scene of the crash assuming you are okay. However, in the hours or days after the crash, you might discover that you have suffered one of the following hidden injuries:
- Traumatic brain injury. A concussion or other type of TBI may not be immediately apparent. Even if you didn’t hit your head on the dashboard, steering wheel, or windshield, you were probably tossed around enough on impact that your brain was rattled in your skull. That is enough to cause serious brain damage.
- Herniated disc. Being whipped back and forth in a collision can do serious damage to your spinal cord, including rupturing a disc. Discs are the spongy material between your vertebrae, and a rupture or herniation can mean that bone is rubbing against bone. A bulging disc can pinch a nerve, causing pain and numbness in your extremities. In the time it can take to realize you have injured your back, the damage could be much worse than it was the day of the accident.
- Neck injury. Whiplash, or cervical strain, is a common car accident injury that can happen when your head is jerked back and forth by the impact of the crash, and the tendons and ligaments in your neck are strained. This soft tissue injury can cause debilitating pain.
- Joint injuries. Knees can be bruised or shattered when crushed against the dashboard, or ligaments can be strained or torn when your legs are thrown from side to side. Shoulders and collarbones can be badly damaged by the seatbelt locking up in a crash.
- Internal injuries. The seatbelt and airbags might have saved your life, but they can also break bones and do a lot of damage to your internal organs in a high-speed collision. The severity of these injuries might take days to surface.
- Psychological injury. It is not uncommon for car accident victims to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other long-term psychological effects after a car accident. Crashes are shocking and violent events, and it can take time to realize that you have been deeply affected by the trauma.
Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after a crash—even one you walk away from—can identify these kinds of injuries and help you evaluate the true cost of the crash. If the crash was not your fault, this will be very important in holding the at-fault driver liable for your damages.
Our Albuquerque Legal Team Can Help
When you have been in a vehicle accident, you should go to the ER, urgent care center, or your primary care doctor as soon as possible afterward. You will be evaluated for a variety of potential injuries to ensure that you get treatment as soon as possible. Your medical records will also help you prove to the at-fault driver’s insurance company that you were injured and suffered losses because of the accident. Your next step after getting medical attention is to call our car accident legal team to help protect your right to recover the damages you are owed. Fill out our contact form or call our office as soon as possible after your New Mexico vehicle crash.