One of the first concerns after a car accident is deciding whether or not to go to the hospital or a doctor right away. Usually, the responding police will ask if you are injured or need medical treatment, if you are hurt tell them, even if you do not want to go to the emergency room right away. My advice, as an experienced car accident lawyer, is to get medical treatment sooner rather than later.
Should I go straight to the ER from the scene of the accident?
Obviously, if you have severe injuries you should go to the emergency room by ambulance as soon as possible. Maybe you do not want to go to the emergency room straight from the scene of the accident, usually that is ok. Many people do not go to the ER by ambulance right away because they want to make sure their car is taken care of by being towed away properly or they drive it home and then decide later or the next day if they need to go to the ER or a doctor.
Make a Doctor Appointment As Soon as Possible:
Regardless if you go to the emergency room or not, make an appointment with a family doctor after the accident or for an emergency room follow up. Most emergency room doctors will advise you to do this. If you do not have a family doctor to go see, call us, we will send you to a doctor that will take care of you either through your health insurance or agree to get paid after the case settles.
I Do Not Have Health Insurance, What Should I Do?
Go to the doctor! If you have been hurt in a car accident you must get medical treatment or risk permanent damage to your health. If you do not have health insurance we have doctors that will agree to treat you without health insurance. We have a network of Missouri doctors that trust us when we send them clients and assure them they will eventually get paid from a car accident settlement. Additionally, many of these doctors will agree that if you lose your case (which we never have!) that you then do not have to pay the medical bill.
How Long Should I go to the Doctor, Physical Therapy, Etc ... ?
For the sake of your physical and mental well-being you should go until you reach "MMI" - Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is the point where you are 100% better or as close to 100% as you are expected to get. Not only is this crucial for your recovery, but if you settle your case and then realize several months later your injury is worse than you thought, you can't reopen the case. Therefore, it is very important that your injuries have completely resolved or reached MMI before settling a case.
I Missed an Appointment, is that OK?
Missing appointments on rare occasions is to be expected with today's busy lifestyles; however, do not make a habit out of it. Multiple missed appointments can look bad, auto insurance companies and their lawyers will argue that you were not very hurt, especially since you did not make it a priority to get better when you missed several appointments.
What Should I tell the Doctor or other Healthcare Provider When I see Them?
Tell them about everything that is bothering you. Just today I met with a new client that was hurt when her car was t-boned at an intersection. She told me she has had bad headaches since the accident and has been taking aspirin for relief. I asked her if her doctor recommended anything and she advised me she did not tell her doctor, because she knew aspirin or Tylenol was really the only thing you could do.
Do not do this! Tell the doctor everything that is bothering you from the car accident, even if you do not think the doctor cannot do anything about it. Take the headache example from above, imaging that if 6 months after the accident the persistent headaches are still there, you then tell the doctor, and then lets say he diagnoses you with post -concussion syndrome. When we make the head injury claim to the insurance company or a jury, the defense can argue that the victim said nothing about the headaches to any doctors for 6 months after the accident, therefore, the claim of headaches is vulnerable to a credibility attack. They will then argue that something else later on caused the headaches and that they were not caused by the car accident because they were not disclosed to the doctor.
If you are hurt in a car accident the most important things to do are:
1. Call the police;
2. Seek medical treatment;
3. Call a car accident lawyer.