If you were involved in a minor accident, you may feel fine shortly afterward and think that you are uninjured. That doesn't necessarily mean that you are injury-free, however. Some injuries can take several days or weeks to manifest. What should you do if you learn you are injured in your accident after some time has passed?
Wait to Sign a Release of Liability
After an accident, an insurance company may push you to sign a release of liability in exchange for a settlement. This form ends any ongoing lawsuits, as well as waives your right to later legal action against the at-fault party. If you sign this form too quickly, you may not be fully compensated for your injuries. It is important to ensure that you undergo a complete and thorough medical evaluation following an accident. Your physician may be able to diagnose or predict injuries that have yet to show symptoms. Don't sign anything after your accident without first consulting your personal injury lawyer.
Get an Estimate of Future Medical Costs
With your doctor's evaluation and your lawyer's help, you can create a fairly accurate estimate of your future medical costs. With this information, you can understand if your settlement offer is fair. Unless you have signed a release of liability and settled your claim, it isn't too late to recover further damages for newly discovered injuries.
It is best to wait to settle your claim until you have achieved maximum medical improvement, or have reached the point where you have completed as full a recovery as could be expected. Your physician can continue to evaluate your progress and help you determine when you have made the maximum amount of improvement expected. At this time, it is unlikely that you will discover any further injuries that were sustained in the accident. Once you have reached your full recovery, it will be easier to claim your full medical expenses and predict future expenses related to your injuries. It can be helpful to wait to file your claim until you have recovered fully, but be aware that there is a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. In New Mexico, this time limit is 3 years from the date you were injured.
What Are Symptoms of Delayed Injuries?
Certain types of injuries are prone to manifesting after some time has passed. These injuries can have a significant impact on your life, even if they take time to show symptoms. Treatment is important to ensure that these injuries do not worsen and cause issues for you later. Watch for these symptoms, which may indicate a more serious injury.
- Headaches: Headaches should be investigated by your doctor if they last more than a day. They can be a symptom of stress, a concussion, brain injury, whiplash, neck injury, or even a blood clot. Pay attention to the severity, duration, and location of pain.
- Neck or Shoulder Pain: Often a sign of whiplash, pain in the neck and shoulders can take several days to manifest. This pain also may be a sign of a herniated disc or other spinal injury.
- Back Pain: This pain can indicate a whiplash injury, especially in the lower back. It also may indicate a sprain, herniated disc, or soft tissue injuries, such as muscle damage.
- Numbness or Tingling: Strange sensations, such as numbness, weakness of the limbs, or tingling, can indicate a pinched nerve. Often, muscle tension or a herniated disc can press on nerves, causing unusual sensations and pain.
- Abdominal Pain: Soft-tissue injuries can be very serious, especially when they involve your internal organs. Untreated, these injuries can have severe or even fatal effects. Abdominal pain after an accident should be immediately examined by a doctor. Internal bleeding can cause headaches, dizziness, and deep bruising.
- Emotional Trauma: Physical injuries aren't the only pain you may experience after an accident. Emotional pain and suffering should also be taken into account for your settlement. Your daily life may be interrupted by trauma, including anxiety and depression following your accident. Brain injuries may also cause mood changes and personality changes.
Find Help for Your Claim
Even minor injuries need adequate treatment, and you shouldn't be responsible for your medical costs if you were injured by another party's negligence. Our Albuquerque personal injury attorney can help you file a claim, calculate your future medical costs, guide your through settlement negotiations, and even represent you in litigation, if necessary. At Berenson & Associates, P.C., we are backed by more than 15 years of legal experience. We are dedicated to finding unique legal solutions to each client's case.
Contact our firm to schedule an initial consultation.