When you are not okay: the danger of not getting treatment after a motor vehicle accident
Motor vehicle accidents (“MVAs”) are extremely dangerous. An average mid-sized sedan weighs about one-and-a-half tons. Even when moving at relatively low rate of speed, the force of a one-ton collision is enormous. A head on collision is far worse. If a vehicle going 47 mph strikes another vehicle traveling 64 mph, the collision is of a similar magnitude to a vehicle traveling at 111 mph ramming into a concrete barrier. Modern safety features have dramatically reduced the risk of injury in a MVA, but there is little technological innovation can do to offset the impact of a high-speed head-on collision.
Some MVAs cause immediately life-threatening injuries. First responders take the injured directly to a hospital for critical care. However, other incidents may not cause injuries that require the same type of immediate life-saving intervention. The injured party will be offered the option to travel to a hospital in an ambulance, but instead of accepting emergency transport, the individual injured will decline for a number of reasons. He or she might feel embarrassed or ashamed of being in an accident; the cost of the ambulance service will cause financial hardship; the idea of taking an ambulance when not in a life-threatening situation may feel selfish; pride may play into the decision-making process; or the injured person may just not feel like they’ve suffered a severe enough injury to justify that level of attention.
While some of those who decline emergency transport may go directly to the emergency room by other means, many decide to wait and see their primary care physician. Others will not seek medical attention at all, or simply decide that the injury is not severe enough for pay for the office visit, waiting to see if the injury heals on its own. While financial concerns are valid—our system’s fundamental flaw is that seeking medical treatment can end in bankruptcy—it is always wise to see a doctor after an MVA.