People will often advise you to get checked out immediately following an auto accident to discover what medical conditions might have resulted from the crash. This is important for your wellbeing, but also to ensure any settlement offered is enough to cover the expenses of treating those conditions. Sometimes, however, an injury may not develop right away.
Our Brains React to Excitement
It's entirely possible to be injured severely and not even realize it at first. This is because, at times of heightened excitement, the brain releases adrenaline and other endorphins to help the body cope with the situation. These compounds work to block pain and to keep us energized, even immediately after the event passes. For that reason, people sometimes don't recognize just how extensively they have been injured.
One common occurrence related to this phenomena is the way in which soft tissue injuries develop, following car accidents. For instance, whiplash is a neck injury that results from the head suddenly jerked in swift forward and backward motions, such as that which occurs in a traffic accident. While that condition is immediately present, the victim may not feel the symptoms until days or weeks after the incident. During this time, the muscles of the neck will become inflamed and mobility will be restricted. Pain will gradually develop as well.
Complicating the matter is the fact that these kinds of conditions that concern a soft tissue injury are difficult to identify. They typically don't show up on X-rays and similar tests, so they won't become apparent until the individual does develop symptoms. Similarly, a concussion can take time to develop. Again, this is because swelling in the brain will be a gradual process. As days or weeks pass, the individual will begin to feel the pain associated with the condition, making it more probable that a doctor will be able to diagnose the problem. While there are many viable ways to deal with pain, it is important to get all of your ailments documented by a medical doctor so you have the files ready when you need a car accident lawyer.
How to Respond After an Accident
For these reasons, it's important not to accept a settlement offer quickly, even though you may be eager to receive the money. Setting aside the idea that the insurance company is likely trying to settle for less than you deserve, there's also the fact that later medical conditions may develop.
When you submit to a medical exam, following the accident, you should make a point to consult the doctor about how long it may take an injury to develop in your case. This will give you a better idea about how long you should wait, before considering a settlement offer.
Additionally, as an injury develops, you may experience chronic pain that will affect your ability to work. That lost income can also be claimed in a personal injury case, so you'll also need to consult your doctor about how long your condition will keep you out of work. If the accident results in a permanent disability, you may be able to seek damages for a loss of earnings capacity, which is compensation for money you would have otherwise earned in your lifetime.
As these factors indicate, it's important not to rush a settlement, following an auto accident. This is because you may not be fully aware of the extent of the damages to your property, your livelihood, or your health. By consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney and seeking proper medical treatment, you can ensure you'll be better compensated for the ways in which the accident impacted your life. Regardless of the strong-arm tactics used by insurance adjusters, there's no reason to rush to accept any offer.