How Long Do You Have to Seek Medical Attention after an Accident in Pennsylvania?
If you sustained an injury in an accident in Pennsylvania, it is essential that you seek medical attention from a doctor as soon as you can after the accident. Receiving proper medical care after an accident is crucial for your health and wellbeing as well as your ability to recover compensation. The Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm explain why it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible following an accident.
Is There a Deadline to Seek Medical Attention After an Accident in Pennsylvania?
Although there is no set deadline for seeking medical treatment, there are personal and legal reasons why you would want to receive medical care immediately or within a couple of days after being involved in an accident. You may have an underlying injury that shows up or worsens over time, and delaying treatment could be detrimental to your health and recovery. Additionally, depending on your auto insurance policy, specifically the personal injury protection (PIP) benefit that covers your medical treatment, you may be required to receive medical care within a certain amount of time for the resulting expenses to be eligible under your PIP coverage. Delaying medical treatment could also add complications to the process of filing a personal injury claim against an insurance company. After a personal injury claim is filed, insurance companies carefully review your medical treatment records looking to identify problems and inconsistencies with your treatment hoping to reduce the size of your claim.
In auto accident claims, insurance companies will review photos of the property damage looking at the points of impact and damage to the vehicles involved in the crash. If the damage appears minor or is not easily visible in the photographs, the insurance company will argue it wasn’t possible for the injured party to sustain the injuries being claimed. Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help you navigate this process and help you in the aftermath of an accident to recover for your injuries.
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim
Regardless of what kind of accident you were involved in, you may be considering pursuing a personal injury claim. Therefore, it is important to understand the statute of limitations. The Statute of Limitations is the period of time or time limit in which a law suit must be filed. The Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for personal injury claim sets a two (2) year time limit in which the injured person or persons must file a law suit. If a lawsuit involving a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania is not started within the two (2) year period, you may be barred from bringing suit against the responsible party and your right to pursue your claim may forever be lost.
The time period starts on the date of the accident. There are exceptions that allow you to file beyond the two-year period, such as if you were a minor at the time of the accident, but otherwise the statute of limitations is strictly enforced. Filing within the statute of limitations is essential if you want to recover for your injuries, as if the insurance company knows you are filing outside of the two-year period, they have no reason to settle, and you will not be able to file a lawsuit. Thus, it is important to be aware of the nature and extent of your injuries as soon as possible, to ensure that you file suit within the statute of limitations.
Delayed Injuries and Symptoms After a Pennsylvania Accident
The main reason you do not want to delay medical treatment is that it can lead to negative consequences for your health. After an accident, you may have an adrenaline or epinephrine rush that prevents you from feeling pain in the moment, and you may believe you are not injured. Injuries that are a result of an accident may not be obvious immediately after the incident. It is not uncommon to have accident-related injuries with delayed symptoms that show up days, a week, or even months after the accident.
Concussions and brain injuries are one of the most common, traumatizing and even largely unnoticed injuries immediately following an accident. There are a variety of ways that you could sustain a brain injury following an accident. For instance, in a car accident, a victim may have hit their head against another object like a windshield; however, even the rapid acceleration/deceleration of whiplash can lead a victim to suffer long-term whiplash injury in Philadelphia. Common symptoms that may be indicative of a brain injury include headaches, drowsiness, fatigue, loss of vision, poor concentration, agitation, irritability, insomnia, nausea or vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms following an accident, it is crucial to see a doctor right away.
Concussions are among the most common injuries following a motor vehicle accident and require immediate medical attention. Concussions can lead to post-concussion syndrome, which can inhibit one’s ability to perform tasks and interfere with everyday tasks or job functions. Additionally, if you have another concussion before fully recovering from the first one, second impact syndrome (SIS) can occur. SIS can lead to rapid swelling of the brain that can be life-threatening at worst, and a debilitating condition at best.
Some brain injuries take time to develop and are likely a result of damage to the brain tissue. Thus, they may not show up until after the accident. If you suffered a contusion, you may have severe bruising or bleeding in the brain, which may lead to significant long-term harm such as permanent brain function impairment, affecting things such as emotional, physical and cognitive capacity. Large contusions often require surgery in order to reduce intracranial pressure that can be life threatening. Additionally, if the brain is deprived of oxygen following a collision, the result may prove fatal.
Aside from brain injuries, soft tissue injuries including torn ligaments or muscles can easily be confused with soreness, but can lead to mobility issues if left untreated. It is important for accident victims to seek medical treatment as soon as possible following an accident to tend to any obvious injuries, as well as get evaluated for less visible injuries.
How a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Claim is Affected by Waiting to Seek Medical Attention
It is important to seek medical attention immediately after an accident to document your injuries and assist the insurance company in evaluating your personal injury claim.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often use tactics that disadvantage accident victims, and may even engage in bad faith practices. Insurance companies have a duty of good faith to process injury claims in a fair and timely manner to the person they insure. An insurance company acts in bad faith if it is unable to reasonably explain a refusal to pay a legitimate claim. Another bad faith tactic that insurance companies may use to deny claims is by falsely stating that the accident victim failed to seek medical care soon enough after the accident. They may argue that since the victim didn’t seek medical care immediately, it is not clear that their injuries directly stem from the accident. Therefore, one thing to avoid after being involved in an accident is claiming that you’re “feeling fine” or that you are “not injured” at the accident scene. This may prove not to be true, and can complicate an already difficult process.
Filing an Accident Claim After a Delay in Medical Treatment in Pennsylvania
In the event you delayed seeking medical treatment following an accident, you can still file a personal injury claim in Chester, PA or elsewhere in the Pennsylvania area and recover damages. However, as discussed above, a delay in seeking medical treatment will make it more difficult to successfully establish a causal connection between the accident and your injuries and improve the likelihood of the defendant successfully arguing that the accident did not cause the injuries being claimed, or that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
Immediately seeking medical treatment following an accident creates a timeline of your injury and medical treatment. Medical treatment records are extremely important and are typically the main used by the insurance company/defendant to determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help You After an Accident
It is important to seek medical attention immediately following an accident. If you were injured in an accident and would like to discuss a potential personal injury claim for injuries you sustained in an accident, call the Main Line Philly personal injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940 for a free consultation.