By Francis M. Smith
Under the very best of circumstances, being in a car accident is a scary experience. Because motor vehicles are big, heavy, and fast, they have the potential to do a lot of damage to bodies and property if something goes wrong. In the first moments following the accident, your reactions might include shocked surprise – especially if the other driver came out of nowhere or did something unexpected to cause the accident – fear, anger, and worry. Is anyone hurt? Are you hurt? Is it safe to stay in the car? Is it safe to get out? People who are fortunate enough never to have been in the situation previously are often confused and uncertain of how to proceed when another driver strikes them. This can be a problem, since there are important things people should do to protect themselves when they've been in a car accident, and many of them should be begun as soon after the crash as is practical.
As soon as you can after the accident, on the same day if at all possible, it's a good idea to see a doctor if you believe there's any chance at all you might have sustained an injury. The troubling thing about car accident injuries is that many types of damage, particularly to the neck and back, don't make themselves obvious right away. Maybe the shock and stress of the crash make the body tense up, masking the pain until that tension wears off, or it could be that the distraction and worry of dealing with the accident distract victims enough not to notice the first signs of a larger problem. Some people also might worry about being perceived as weak somehow, for seeking medical care when they don't have an obvious serious injury – but these are dangerous ways to think, not only medically, but financially.