What to Do If You Are in a Car Accident: Examine Injuries

First Aid Kit

It might seem an insult to the reader’s intelligence to post this kind of advice at the tail-end of a guide to car accident response. However, it is always good to cover bases and remind each of us how important it is to document and examine injuries. The flurry of activity directly following a collision makes it easy to overlook the most obvious and pressing needs: your health. The important work of documenting accident information could easily distract you from aches and pains that would, under more mundane circumstances, absorb all of your focus.  Even in the midst of the accident, it is always important to document every part of the experience—especially the injuries—in case you need the documentation later.  Remember the following:

Always See a Doctor

In time of crisis, a delayed reaction is natural, but seeing a doctor should not be delayed for long. It is recommended that you always see a doctor after a car accident within 72 hours since the accident must be established as a proximate cause of any injuries that you seek insurance coverage for. A competent medical professional will be able to gauge the true extent of whatever damage exists, and their opinion will be useful to you if you need to make a claim for personal injury compensation. The medical records from your post-accident checkup should be seen as a critical extension of your documentation. A medical diagnosis cannot be achieved in any other way. This is the case particularly when the injuries include deep-tissue damage that cannot be photographed effectively or, for that matter, display any visible side effects. Your insurance provider has its own doctors; you should have at least one to support your claim.

Assess Injuries & Get Help

While assessing your physical state of being, keep in mind that the most common car accident injuries are in the neck, back, and head—those parts of the body not pressed to the floor of the vehicle or strapped in by a seat belt. Because injuries to these areas—the brain or spinal cord—tend to be more damaging injuries than broken limbs or lacerations, you should check for damage to these areas first of all. The nature and extent of injuries you find will determine how you treat the injured person. A spinal cord injury victim, for instance, should not be moved until the paramedics arrive. Someone who is in shock should ideally be removed from the wreckage and comforted in a neutral location. Before you do anything else, you should find out whether professional emergency care is required—if an ambulance is needed, that should be the first number you call.

Medical Care is the Top Priority

If you are able to recall and execute every step of car accident response, you will have a much easier time successfully obtaining a satisfactory settlement after the fact. However, no cash amount can truly compensate for lost time when you or a passenger have sustained a serious, time-sensitive, injury. You may, in a panic, forget to attend to some crucial errand, and this may even come back to bite you. None of this is as important as the health of yourself or another person involved in the accident. Do not obsess over minutiae when someone has been hurt. Do not put off calling an ambulance to photograph an injury. It isn’t worth saving time or trouble in filing a claim at the expense of present safety, long-term comfort, or recovery potential. To help ease the situation of your accident, check out our article, “What to You Do If You Are in a Car Accident.”

Image copyright by Christina Xu.

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