Oakland Car Accident Attorneys Helping Injured Clients throughout Northern California

how long after car accident can you claim injuryWhat happens if you got hurt in a car accident but did not realize the extent of your injuries until days or weeks later? What if your decision to delay seeking medical treatment exacerbated your injuries, resulting in the need for more extensive and costly medical treatment? Regardless of when you decided to seek medical treatment after the crash, an Oakland car accident lawyer can help.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim an Injury?

This is an issue that comes up fairly frequently. A person is hit very hard in an accident, they walk out of the car, they’re feeling ok – then maybe the next day they’re a little stiff and sore, but they have to go to work, they just take Advil, and then three weeks later they realize they can’t really move their shoulder the way they used to, go to the doctor, get an MRI and the person learns that they have a much more severe injury than they thought.

These cases are doable, but they are looked upon with skepticism by the insurance companies, therefore I encourage people to get checked out if they’ve been hit very, very hard. Because if you don’t get checked out, you face the accusation from the insurance company for the person at fault that you just decided later that you had an injury.

Why You Should Seek Medical Attention Immediately

There are many different kinds of injuries that vehicle occupants, cyclists, and pedestrians can sustain in motor vehicle collisions. In many cases, signs and symptoms of these injuries show up almost immediately. However, there are numerous types of injuries that may not lead to symptoms for hours, days, and sometimes weeks after the accident.

For example, according to a fact sheet from the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a common injury in auto accidents, particularly in rear-end crashes. It is a neck injury that results from “forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” It can lead to chronic neck pain and extended complications. While neck pain, stiffness in the neck, and headaches can occur very soon after a car accident, this is not always the case. Sometimes indications of whiplash can take much longer to appear, leading an injury victim to delay seeking medical treatment.

Other injuries may not appear immediately after a crash. For example, a fact sheet from WebMD indicates that, while internal bleeding is among the most serious consequences of trauma and often requires surgery. However, when internal bleeding results from a “less severe trauma,” the injured party might not immediately notice the signs and symptoms. During that time, the bleeding continues and steadily gets worse to the point that a medical emergency may occur. Signs of internal bleeding, either hours or longer after a trauma, can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Large areas of purple skin (ecchymosis)

By delaying medical treatment, your injury can get worse. When an injury worsens, it can be more expensive in terms of medical bills, and your life can also be in danger. As such, no matter how minor a car accident might seem, you should always get checked out by your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Even if You Delayed Seeking Medical Attention, You Can Be Eligible for Compensation

Even if your delay in seeking treatment leads your injury to get worse, you can still be eligible to receive compensation from the party responsible for the accident. In California, we follow a system known as “pure comparative fault.” This means that, even if a plaintiff is partially responsible for her injuries—or for the severity of those injuries—she can still recover damages from the defendant. Even if the plaintiff is 99 percent liable, the defendant can still be responsible for the remaining 1 percent.

The plaintiff’s recovery is simply reduced by the percentage that the jury says she is negligent. To be clear, if your delayed medical treatment led a jury to determine that you were 40 percent responsible for the severity of your injuries, your recovery from the defendant would be reduced by 40 percent—you would still receive 60 percent of the damage award.

Learn More from a California Personal Injury Lawyer

Did you delay seeking medical attention only to discover that you sustained a serious car accident injury? An experienced personal injury lawyer in Oakland can help. Contact GJEL Accident Attorneys for more information.