SHOULD I GO TO THE HOSPITAL FOLLOWING A CAR ACCIDENT?
Virtually all traffic accidents are traumatic events with a great deal involved, even at relatively low speeds. In many cases, people involved in car accidents that seem minor feel fine after the accident and do not think they are injured, but car accidents can result in injuries that do not show symptoms for days. If you do not seek medical treatment as soon as possible, you can damage your case and make it harder to get compensation for your injuries.
Why Prompt Medical Attention is Important
There are two reasons to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident: prompt care may prevent or reduce the damage of your injuries and seeking care right away can strengthen your injury case and make it easier to prove the accident caused your injuries.
In many cases, the severity of your injuries will not be apparent immediately after the injury for many reasons.
- Physiological response. A car accident causes your body to generate endorphins and adrenaline that can block pain.
- Soft tissue injuries may not be apparent for days. Car accidents generate a great deal of force that puts stress on joints and vulnerable areas of the body. These injuries generally cause swelling, pain, and reduced range of motion, but it may take days or weeks for the full extent of the injury to become apparent. These injuries do not show up on an X-ray and can be difficult to diagnose and document so it’s important to get fast treatment to show the injuries are connected to the accident.
- Brain injuries can be serious and aren’t always obvious. A concussion or traumatic brain injury occurs when your body is jolted and the brain strikes the inside of the skull with force. Sometimes the symptoms are subtle and include trouble concentrating, difficulty remembering new information, headache, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, and unusual sleep patterns.
Where Should I Seek Treatment?
You do not necessarily need to go to the hospital after a car accident as it will depend on the severity of your injuries. It’s important to get appropriate medical intervention for your injuries, so you may just want to follow up with your primary care physician right away if you do not feel injured or you have minor aches and pains. If your injuries are more serious, the hospital emergency room or urgent care will be more appropriate. Remember that serious injuries may seem minor at first so seek urgent medical care if you suspect:
– A back injury, which can affect you for the rest of your life.
– A neck injury, which can lead to long-lasting damage and pain.
– A head injury. You may not feel the effects of internal bleeding or a concussion until the damage gets much worse.
There are a few reasons to consider urgent care over an emergency room, however. Urgent care facilities are staffed with ER doctors and typically have a shorter wait. Treatment at urgent care is just as effective, but the cost is greatly reduced. This is important because a hospital will put a lien against the future value of your case for the retail value of your care which may be much higher than the amount your insurance will pay for the same treatment from urgent care. When hospital liens are involved in a settlement, the lien must be paid in full and hospitals rarely discount services in these cases.
Delayed Medical Treatment Can Damage Your Case
Unfortunately, insurance companies assume that you were not injured seriously or hurt at all if you did not seek medical attention promptly. One of many criteria insurance adjusters consider when evaluating a car accident injury claim is how promptly the claimant sought and received medical care. The more time that passes between the accident and treatment, the more likely the insurance company is to claim the claimant was exaggerating or faking the injuries.
Even though you may not make any type of injury claim after your accident, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible to document that you sought care within a reasonable amount of time. If you delay seeing a doctor, the insurance company will argue that you couldn’t have been hurt too bad or that your accident was not the cause of your injuries.
If you suffered significant injuries in an accident, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles to protect your rights and help you negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you get a fair settlement.