Imagine this scenario: you’re stopped at a red light, but the driver behind you doesn’t slow down in time and rear-ends you. Your back bumper is crumpled, but your car is still drivable and you don’t seem to be hurt, so you count yourself lucky and don’t go to the hospital. However, when you wake up the next morning, your shoulder is sore. You take an aspirin, but the following day, it hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse. Now what?
Unfortunately, this type of situation is far too common, especially since the adrenaline rush caused by a crash can often mask the pain of an injury. Going to the doctor is expensive, so most of us only go when we know something is wrong. Otherwise, we wait and see if an injury might get better on its own. But if you end up needing treatment and need compensation to pay for it, waiting is one of the absolute worst things you can do.
Can I Still Get Compensation If I Wait to Get Treatment?
Yes, it just becomes much harder the longer you wait. The statute of limitations, or the time limit in which you can file a compensation claim after an accident, is three years from the date of injury in New York. However, if you wait too long, it will be very difficult to prove when and how your injury actually happened.
How Insurance Companies Dispute Claims When You Don’t See a Doctor Right Away
Let’s go back to our first scenario with the sore shoulder. You assume it’s merely a bad bruise, but after a few weeks, the pain is still bad. When you finally see a doctor, you’re told you need surgery due to a torn ligament.
You know that the car accident is the only major injury-causing event that happened in the past month, and it must be how you injured your shoulder. If you filed a police report after the crash, then you can prove the crash happened, but you can’t also prove the injury happened in the crash, especially if you told the reporting police officer or your insurance company at the time that you weren’t injured.
The insurance company of the at-fault driver can say that a lot can happen in a month, and you could have just as easily hurt your shoulder while exercising, doing chores around the home, or in a fall. There’s nothing concrete tying your shoulder injury to the crash (and their client). In this situation, having a lawyer on your side in essential.
What Do I Do If I Was in an Accident But Didn’t Realize I Was Injured Right Away?
The first thing you should do is see a doctor immediately. While the best thing is to see a doctor the day you suffered the injury, the next best thing is to see a doctor now.
Make sure to tell the doctor that you were in an accident, when the accident happened, and how long you’ve been suffering symptoms.
In addition to treating you, your doctor will be able to offer their expert opinion on whether your injury matches the type of accident you were in and whether it’s normal or expected for injuries of that type to have delayed symptoms. This can be useful evidence when connecting your injury to the accident and getting you compensation from the at-fault party.
The second thing you should do is call a lawyer. It will be very difficult to prove you were injured in an accident long after the fact without a lawyer on your side who is familiar with these types of cases. The insurance company will look for every excuse to avoid paying you, but when you hire a lawyer, they will have a harder time convincing a judge or jury that your injury had a different cause, and therefore wasn’t their policyholder’s fault.
Let Us Help You
At Catalano Law, we know that the aftermaths of accidents can get chaotic, and it’s hard to know what the right thing to do to protect yourself is, whether physically or legally. That’s why our Syracuse car accident lawyers want to help.
Even if you didn’t realize you were injured until later, or didn’t know how important seeing a doctor right away would end up being if you need to file for compensation, that is no reason for you to be denied the compensation you deserve when your injuries, and the other party’s negligence, are fact. We fiercely believe that, and will fight back against any who say otherwise. If you need help getting compensation after a crash, call our team today for a free consultation. We’d love to discuss your options with you.