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How Long After a Car Accident Do You Have to Go to the Hospital?

January 8, 2024

No rule dictates the exact time you should go to the hospital after a car accident. Each case is unique, with various factors to consider when determining whether you need emergency care or if a visit to a doctor can wait. However, it is generally advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you’ve been involved in a car accident – both for your physical health as well as your legal rights.

When to Seek Immediate Medical Care

If you get involved in a motor vehicle accident in Denver and notice immediate signs of injury, you should go to the hospital directly from the scene of the crash. Injury signs may include pain, swelling, bleeding or indications of broken bones. In an emergency, call 911 (or have someone call for you) and request an ambulance to take you to the nearest emergency room. Otherwise, have someone drive you to the closest hospital for an immediate check-up.

Signs that you need immediate medical care after a car accident include:

  • Severe, apparent injuries
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Back or neck pain
  • Signs of spinal injury
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Tingling or numbness anywhere in your body
  • Head pain, headache or dizziness
  • Any loss of consciousness (even for a few seconds)

If you or someone else involved in the crash, such as your passengers or the driver of the other vehicle, are exhibiting any of these signs, it is recommended to go to the hospital without delay. You may have a serious or catastrophic injury, such as internal bleeding, a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury. Prompt medical care can provide the emergency treatment that you need to mitigate health risks or potentially save your life.

The Importance of Prompt Medical Care

If you wait to go to the hospital, you could risk exacerbating injuries that you sustained in the crash. If you suffered a back injury, for example, and do not receive immediate medical attention, moving or twisting the wrong way could result in significant harm, such as paralysis.

Going to a hospital early, on the other hand, can allow a medical professional to determine if you have an injury that needs treatment. Hospitals are sound places to receive care after a car crash, as they will have the medical professionals and equipment to check for common injuries.

Prompt care can also aid with the evaluation of your car insurance claim. You are responsible for mitigating your damages as a car accident claimant. An insurance company will look to see if you received medical care right away or if you waited. If you delay treatment, the insurer may use this as a reason to deny your claim or reduce benefits.

Car Accidents and Delayed Injuries

It is advised for everyone who gets into a car accident to visit the closest hospital or their doctor as soon as possible for a medical evaluation, even if they do not initially feel injured. A physical examination and medical tests, such as scans and x-rays, can detect injuries before symptoms arise. Delayed and hidden injuries are more common than most people realize after car accidents

While you may assume that all serious injuries are immediately noticeable, this is not always the case. Several injuries, even those that are life-threatening, may not show symptoms until hours or even days after the crash. Common examples include brain injuries, whiplash, back and spine injuries, herniated disks, and internal injuries. If you notice any delayed symptoms after a crash, such as pain, headache, stiffness or confusion, get medical care right away.

The possibility of delayed injuries is why it is important to go to the hospital without delay after a car crash. When speaking to the other driver involved in your crash, a law enforcement officer or a car insurance company, do not say you are not injured until you have seen a doctor. Putting it on record that you are uninjured after a car accident can make it more difficult to receive financial compensation if you discover injuries later.

Maximum Time After a Car Accident to Go to the Hospital

Although it is always better to go to a hospital sooner rather than later after a car accident, you technically have until Colorado’s statute of limitations expires to do so in terms of filing an injury claim. The statute of limitations enforces a strict time limit on the ability to file a personal injury claim.

In Colorado, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of most car accidents or reasonable injury discovery (whichever is later). If you wish to bring a claim against a government entity, however, you only have 180 days. These are the maximum time limits by which you need to go to the hospital to document your crash-related injury.

What if I Didn’t Go to a Hospital After My Car Accident? Can I Still Recover Compensation?

Yes, it is possible to still recover financial compensation after a car accident in Colorado even if you did not go to the hospital right away. However, waiting too long can make it more difficult to receive the compensation that you deserve. Insurance companies are for-profit operations that may look for ways to diminish or deny your payout during a car accident claim. This includes using the fact that you waited to go to the hospital against you.

The best way to protect yourself during the claims process is by visiting a doctor even if it has been days or weeks since your car accident. If you notice signs of injury, tell your doctor that you were involved in a car crash and request copies of your medical records. Without medical documentation proving that you were injured in the car crash, an insurance company may reject your claim.

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Get Legal Assistance With Your Denver Car Accident Case

If you get involved in a car accident, a personal injury lawyer in Denver at Fang Law Firm can give you the guidance and information you need to move forward. Our attorneys can give you tailored legal advice regarding your injuries, medical care and financial recovery options. We can help you with insurance settlement negotiations to fight for a fair settlement on your behalf. If necessary, we can represent you during a car accident trial in Denver County, as well. Call (720) 379-6363 or contact us online for a free case consultation.