In the United States, 3 million people are injured in car accidents every year. Some of these injuries are mild – just bumps and bruises – but about 2 million of those who are involved in an accident experience permanent injuries. That’s why, if you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important that you act immediately to give yourself the best chance at recovery. While you may not be able to mitigate all of the effects, these steps can help you take control of your future.
At The Scene
The first step you should take if you’ve been in a car accident needs to happen before you even leave the scene. At that time, even exchanging insurance information should be secondary to checking everyone present for injuries. Don’t move anyone who seems to be seriously injured and call 911 if you suspect someone may have a head or spine injury, is bleeding seriously, or otherwise needs to be immediately transported to the hospital.
In the event no one at the scene seems to need immediate medical care, it’s still important that you proceed to your primary care physician, urgent care, or the local ER that day to be evaluated. This information will be important when you go to make an insurance claim.
Contact Your Attorney
Once you’ve been fully evaluated, it’s important to share all of the resulting medical documents with your car attorney. From there, your personal injury lawyer can work with your doctor to determine how to move forward with your claim. Their goal is to help you get compensation for both the physical and emotional issues resulting from your accident, which can be an extensive process.
Address Your Emotions
While we typically think about car accident injuries as physical, many people also experience serious mental health issues in the aftermath of a crash. In fact, in a study published by The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2001, researchers found that one-third of individuals reported emotional distress, including anxiety, phobias, and PTSD one year after their accident. Indeed, many experience disabling fears associated with travel that can significantly limit their lives going forward.
Car accident-related trauma may be disabling, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dealt with if you have professional support. Many people benefit from seeing a therapist or even attending an in-patient rehab facility that specializes in such trauma. You might also consider joining a support group for people who have experienced similar trauma or injuries.
The most important step when recovering from a car accident is to be patient with yourself. It can take a long time to recover from many of these injuries, and they can leave permanent scars – physically and psychologically. Some common injuries, such as a collarbone or rib fractures, will likely heal with immobilization or surgery in 6 to 16 weeks, while back and spinal cord injuries may leave you with permanent limitations.
You can’t hurry the healing process, but you can seek legal and financial redress for the harms resulting from your car accident. Let your attorney lead the way on that front while you focus on the healing process.