Every list of what to do after a car accident includes instructions to go to a doctor—even if you aren’t in pain at the moment. It’s good advice, but the specifics matter when it comes to making the most of your claim. Waiting too long or skipping an official appointment is likely to hurt your chance of recovery. However, not all doctors are alike, and not all of them know how to treat car accident victims. If you want to get a thorough assessment of your injuries so you can make a full treatment plan (and prove to an insurer or jury how you were hurt), you have to pick the right doctor.
Most people don’t deal with car accidents often, meaning primary care doctors don’t, either. Though they may be good for annual checkups and vaccines, general physicians aren’t experienced in diagnosing car accident victims and identifying the injuries you may receive from acute trauma. If you have been in a crash, it’s important to take follow-up medical care seriously. By taking a few minutes to plan right now, you can do your future self a favor.
Medical and Legal Considerations
While you should see a doctor you have confidence in, you will also want to consider the credibility and value of the evidence you will receive in terms of medical records, treatment recommendations, and other information about your injuries. The doctor you see should be appropriate for your injuries and be able to provide you with evidence our team can use for your claim. Here’s what you can ask to figure out if they’re a good fit.
First: How Bad Are Your Injuries?
The biggest influence on the type of care you should seek is the severity of your injuries. Serious injuries in need of immediate treatment will send an accident victim to the emergency room; victims who feel mostly fine after the accident have time to consider who they will ask for help. Here are some guidelines, offered by U Chicago Medicine, on whether you need to go to the ER or an urgent care clinic.
You Need an Emergency Room If You…
- Suffered deep or extensive burns
- Have large lacerations or cuts that won’t stop bleeding
- Lost consciousness or experienced a change in your mental state (confusion is a common sign of brain injury)
- Have serious fractures (such as compound fractures) or broken bones not in your extremities
- Suffered injury to your head, face, or neck
- Sustained multiple serious injuries
- Feel pain in your torso and/or abdomen
You Can Visit an Urgent Care If You…
- Suffered a simple fracture of an extremity (limb)
- Have strains or sprains
- Have minor lacerations
- Dislocated a joint
If you were lucky enough to escape with minor injuries, you may have time to research a specialist in your area. Depending on your health insurance, you may be able to ask your primary care physician for a referral to a qualified professional or search for in-network specialists. Keep in mind this isn’t only useful for physical injuries. If you’re suffering from mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you can and should seek treatment.
Second: How Quickly Can You Get an Appointment?
When it comes to dealing with insurance companies, you want to show them you sought care in a timely manner. Otherwise, they might claim you made your injuries worse by postponing a doctor visit, or even that you were hurt in some other incident that had nothing to do with their client. You should try to see a doctor within 2-3 days of your accident to prevent this from happening.
Emergency rooms and Urgent Care clinics can be counted on provide same-day treatment and credible medical records you can use for your claim. If you’re considering seeing a specialist but the earliest appointment you can book is 3 months from now, they won’t be able to provide a conclusive diagnosis. They may be a part of your eventual treatment plan, but a walk-in clinic can take note of your injuries and your next treatment steps—even if it takes a while before you can access them.
How Our Attorneys Can Help with Your Healthcare Questions
Navigating the healthcare system can be hard enough when you’re not also injured. Because our attorneys have worked with many auto accident victims, we know enough to answer some of your questions and help you locate appropriate doctors. Once again, time is of the essence: The answer to “when should I contact an attorney?” is always “as soon as possible.” The sooner you speak with our team, the stronger your strategy will be.
Making Sense of Insurance
If you’re seeking an injury attorney’s help after a car accident, presumably someone else was at fault. That means you’ll be making a claim against their insurance for your expenses, which is what we are here to help with. However, this process takes time, and you may have medical bills due now. So, what should you do? Should you try to charge your expenses to your auto insurance, or your health insurance? The answer may depend on the coverage you have and the nature of your claim. Because we’ll be working closely with you and any insurance companies involved, we can help you figure out the best way to handle expenses.
Preserving Evidence of Medical Care
Hard proof of expenses is what speaks to insurance adjusters, so you want to have as much of it as you can. While you may have figured out it’s a good idea to save the bills from your mechanic and your doctor, we can help you put together a robust file to substantiate your claim. From reminders to save items like pill bottles to working with you to make a written record of your health, we’ll provide the guidance you need to make a strong claim.
Your Attorney Should Offer All-Around Support
Our car accident attorneys are hard workers who care about helping you get results. Successful cases aren’t made by pushing for a quick settlement. They’re made by a comprehensive and unique legal plan that addresses your needs as a client and patient.
Dealing with a car accident can quickly become complex and confusing. While our job is to face these challenges for you, we also are here to answer your questions and provide honest guidance on your next steps. From claim proceedings to treatment options to expectations for your future, we’re here to help you navigate your injury so you can find a path forward after an accident.
Call our car accident attorneys for a free consultation at (949) 565-4281 or send us a message online. We are here to help you understand your rights and options after a car accident.