One of your first priorities after a car crash will be to check yourself and your passengers for any signs of injury. You know that broken bones and spinal cord injuries are often obvious, and you might assume that if everyone can move all of their limbs and either remains conscious or at least has regained consciousness that they don’t have any serious injuries.
The aftermath of a car crash could consume several hours of your day. By the time the police arrive to write up a report, you may already have missed an appointment or become late for work. The idea of adding another delay on top of that may frustrate you.
However, seeing a doctor after a major crash is an important step. Only a physician can rule out the most dangerous invisible injuries.
You may not spot a crash injury until it gets even worse
Severely broken bones and complete spinal cord injuries will be hard to ignore at the scene of a crash. The affected limb likely won’t hold body weight, and a spinal cord injury will prevent someone from using part of your body. Still, you could potentially overlook a stable fracture or an incomplete spinal cord injury that has not severed the cord but only damaged or pinched it.
You might also not notice the signs of very concerning invisible injuries. Internal bleeding in the abdomen or head won’t necessarily be obvious right at the time of the crash. However, after a day or two, you might start to notice serious symptoms, ranging from a worsening headache to tenderness in your abdomen.
Left untreated, these invisible injuries will get worse, possibly producing irreversible damage or putting your life at risk. As if that wasn’t worrisome enough, the longer you wait for a diagnosis, the more question there might be about whether the injury is the result of the car crash or your failure to seek treatment.
When should you see a doctor after a crash?
The faster the speed of your vehicles at the time of the crash, the more likely it is that you could have serious injuries. Those in collisions on roads with speed limits over 35 miles an hour may want to err on the side of caution by seeing a doctor just in case.
Those in a vehicle that spun or flipped may need an evaluation for head injuries, as will anyone who loses consciousness during or after a car crash. Those who feel pain or tenderness near where their safety belt or airbag impacted their body may also require examination for internal bleeding.
Realizing that you may have a possibly deadly injury that you cannot diagnose yourself can help you make better choices after a car crash.