If you’ve been injured during a car accident, you know it doesn’t take long before the bills start piling up, especially if your injuries forced you to stop working. Not only are you worried about how you’ll pay your routine bills, but it’s also not long before the medical bills connected to your accident start rolling in. Considering how quickly your financial situation becomes dire, it’s perfectly natural to wonder how long after a car accident you can claim injury.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately After the Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident, your first priority following the accident is seeking medical attention. The problem many people run into following car accidents is that during the immediate aftermath, when the adrenaline is still pumping, they think they feel fine. When aches and pains start appearing a few hours following the accident, they assume it’s normal. The problem is that after a few days, they realize there’s an underlying cause of the aches and visit their doctor. When this happens, they sometimes learn that they were seriously injured during the car accident.
The problem with waiting a few days before seeking medical attention is that the delay is often enough to prompt the auto insurance company to balk at paying the medical claim. The reason the insurance company uses to deny the claim is because of the delay. They will claim that the delays suggest that the injuries weren’t sustained during the auto accident.
Seeking medical attention, even if you think you’re fine, following a car accident not only puts you in a better position to have your car accident injury claim receive immediate approval but also reduces the risk of you suffering long-term complications from your injuries.
The Accident Doctor Organization reports that most late discovered injuries that were received during auto accidents are soft tissue injuries that include:
- Severe bruising
- Muscle/tendon tears
Closed head injuries, including concussions, are another medical problem that some people don’t discover until several days post-accident.
If there is a Delay, Start Gathering Proof
If there is a delay between the car accident and you discovering that you were injured during the event, you’ll need to leap into immediate action. Not only do you want to get treated as quickly as possible, but you’ll also have to get to work at proving that the accident caused your injuries. Previous medical reports, an analysis of exactly how you received the injury, and why you waited to receive medical treatment will be important considerations when the insurance company considers your claim.
Use Your Medical Insurance
Many people aren’t sure if they should use their medical insurance when they seek medical attention following an accident or if they should simply submit all the bills to whatever auto insurance companies are involved in the case. The answer is to provide the emergency room with your health insurance information.
To you, it will appear that your health insurance provider handles the medical claim the same way they would handle any other claim. Behind the scenes, your health insurance provider may reach out to the company the at-fault driver used for their auto insurance and file a claim in an attempt to recover some of the medical expenses your health insurance had as a result of your claim.
According to NOLO, if you have a health insurance plan that provides what the industry calls “secondary” insurance, the auto insurance company is supposed to cover any medical expenses that are the result of the accident. In this case, you’ll have to submit the medical invoices (and possibly a copy of your health insurance policy) to the auto insurance company that pays your expenses.
Document Everything About the Accident and Your Injuries
As you’re recovering from the injuries you sustained during the auto accident, you need to start documenting everything. Not only do you want to keep a record of the accident report, but you’ll also need to have proof of out-of-pocket expenses you received because of the auto accident injury. If the injury made it impossible for you to work, you’ll need proof of your lost wages.
How Long are you Able to Claim an Injury Following an Auto Accident?
The rule of thumb when it comes to claiming an injury following an auto accident is that the sooner you act, the better. The most important reason to file a medical expenses claim as soon as possible is so that you don’t have to worry about the statute of limitations expiring. Different states have different statutes of limitations on medical claims following auto accidents. Most states require that the claim be filed within two years, though some states allow you more time.
Reliable Legal Help is a Good Idea
Car insurance companies are notorious for dragging their feet when it comes to paying medical claims. Having a good lawyer on your side who knows how to communicate with all of the insurance companies involved in the case often means your claim gets approved much quicker than if you didn’t have legal help. The lawyer will also help determine what evidence you need to prove your case and will make sure the paperwork is properly filed.