It’s crucial to seek medical attention after a car accident in California as soon as possible. Not only can prompt medical treatment help you recover more quickly and completely, but it can also be critical in documenting the injuries and damages you sustained in the accident. Many people might not understand that they need to visit a doctor immediately. So how long do you have to see a doctor after a car accident?

There’s no specific answer for all cases, but sooner rather than later is always better. Any treatment delays can affect your third-party personal injury lawsuit or any medical payments coverage you have on your policy. Seeing a doctor can also depend on the severity of your injuries, the specifics of your insurance coverage, whether you can get in to see your primary care physician, and more.

Here is an overview of what you need to know about seeking medical treatment after auto accidents in California.


One of the most common questions is how long people have after a car accident to see a doctor. California law doesn’t necessarily dictate a specific time, but you might be bound to a certain date because of your policy. Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe, try to see a doctor no later than 72 hours after the accident.

You have a legal deadline to file a claim for your damages, though. Auto accident claims typically have a two-year statute of limitations in California. That means you need to seek medical treatment and file a lawsuit within two years from the date of your injury. However, suppose you wait a year and six months to see a doctor. In that case, the third-party insurance company will almost always deny your claim for compensation because it’s tough to prove your injuries resulted from an accident nearly two years prior.

Delaying medical treatment can have several negative consequences. For one, it can make it more difficult for your doctor to diagnose and treat your injuries accurately. A delayed injury can also make it harder to prove your injuries and damages were sustained in the accident. That is crucial if you file a claim with your insurance company or seek compensation from the responsible third party.

That said, if you do have a delayed injury from a car accident, don’t hesitate to see a medical professional, no matter how long it has been.


Some accidents might result in the need for emergency medical treatment.:

Head Injuries

Head injuries can range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries. If you hit your head in a car accident, it’s imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not have any symptoms.

Chest Injuries

A chest injury can range from minor bruising to a punctured lung. Seatbelts and airbags can keep you safer in an accident, but injuries are still possible. If you have difficulty breathing or chest pain after a car accident, seek medical attention immediately.

Fractured or Broken Bones

Any damage to your bone requires diagnostic imaging to determine the extent of the break. Doctors may be able to set the bone, improving your healing, while other breaks require immediate surgery.

Abdominal Injuries

An abdominal injury can range from minor bruises to life-threatening internal injuries. If you have abdominal pain or tenderness after a car accident, don’t assume it’s no big deal.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are some of the most catastrophic, as they often involve permanent paralysis. If you have any symptoms of a spinal cord injury, such as numbness, weakness, or difficulty moving, seek immediate emergency treatment.


In California, all drivers must carry minimum liability insurance, which covers injuries and damages sustained by the other party in an accident that the insured causes. You must prove liability and damages to receive compensation under the other driver’s policy.

Your auto insurance policy may also provide coverage for your medical treatment. In California, many auto insurance policies include medical payments coverage, which pays for your medical expenses up to a certain amount, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

Understandably, accident victims are concerned about the cost of treatment. It’s common for some California health care policies to deny payment for accident-related injuries if there’s another responsible party out there and you don’t have medical payments coverage on your policy. Other insurance companies will assert a lien on any treatment costs. Your health care company wants reimbursement if you collect compensation from the third-party insurance company.


When you have questions about how long do you have to see a doctor after a car accident, contact the skilled legal team at Silva Injury Law. We have years of experience assisting injured car accident victims just like you. The sooner you retain a California car accident lawyer, the sooner we can build a solid case against the at-fault party. Preserving evidence and speaking with witnesses early on in the investigation is essential. Schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.


At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.