Should I Go to the Doctor After an Accident?
Were you just involved in a car accident? And you’re wondering whether you should go to the doctor or the emergency room, check out this short article to find out.
I get this question all the time from people I just got in an accident, should I get medical treatment?
Like so many questions in law, the answer to this question is “it depends.” Should you get medical treatment? If you suffered really minor injuries or just property damage, probably not. At least not if it’s just so that you ‘have a case’ with an insurance company.
But if you suffered moderate to severe injuries, then 100 hundred percent, you need to get medical treatment.
I have a client who was involved in an accident and about 6 weeks later he emailed me that he was still feeling pain in his wrist. Well, he never got any medical treatment for the pain in his wrist. Should he get medical treatment? He asked and I said, absolutely. Yes. Why?
I always tell clients, focus on your health, not your claim. No matter what we recover for this individual, it won’t matter if he’s still feeling wrist pain in two years, or if it affects his employment. So, focus on your health, not your claim.
When Should You Go to the Doctor After an Accident?
If you were involved in an accident and suffered severe injuries, they’re probably going to take you to the emergency room right away by ambulance.
But let’s say that’s not the case. Let’s say you’re feeling back pain or neck pain the day after an accident. I always recommend that people get medical treatment as soon as you possibly can.
Whatever you can do, go to the doctor as soon as you can. The reason I say this is that the insurance company is going to use every piece of evidence they can to diminish the value of your claim.
If there’s a delay in your getting medical treatment, they’re going to use that to question the severity of your injuries. So don’t delay get the medical treatment you can, as soon as possible.
What Type of Doctor Should I see After an Accident?
Some people will ask what type of doctor should I see after an accident? In general, I don’t care. Go see your primary care physician, go to an urgent care or go to the emergency room. Just get medical care as soon as possible.
One caveat is some people will go see a chiropractor right away after an accident. I don’t recommend that.
I do believe in chiropractors, and I think they can be really beneficial. But before you go see a chiropractor, go see your primary care physician and get a referral to the chiropractor. That will play much better with an insurance company later on when you’re trying to recover for your damages.
What Should I Tell My Doctor After an Accident?
Tell your doctor everything. This is no time to tough it out. Tell the doctor about all the pain you’re suffering, whether it be to your right shoulder, your left knee, your left wrist, whether mentally you’re struggling, you can’t sleep at night. If you can’t have sexual relations with your significant other, whatever it is. Tell the doctor about it.
And here’s the reason why – when it comes to dealing with an insurance company, if it’s not in the medical records, it does not exist.
“If It’s Not in the Medical Records it Doesn’t Exist”
Let’s take a hypothetical. Let’s say that you suffered nightmares as a result of injuries suffered in an accident but you never reported it to your doctor or never got treatment for them.
Then in nine months you put the demand package in front of insurance company, and you try to claim PTSD or compensation for your nightmares. If its not in the medical records, it doesn’t exist. You will not be able to recover for the emotional distress you suffered because there is no independent documentation supporting your claim.
How to Pay Medical Bills After an Accident
First, don’t bother submitting your medical bills to the insurance company for the driver who hits you – unless you’re just going to accept their first offer and be done with your case.
Otherwise, that is going to be a waste of time. Those medical bills are going to sit out there and they’re not going to get paid. Then they’ll go to collections which is something you absolutely want to avoid.
Instead, if you intend to hold out and try to settle your case later, there are two places that you could turn to in order to get your medical bills paid.
First, take a look at your own auto insurance policy. Do you have med pay or medical payments or PIP coverage? If you do, then you might be able to get the first $2,500 or $5,000 or whatever of your medical bills paid.
Second, you should look to get your medical bills paid by your own health insurance company. In fact, always, always give your medical providers, your health insurance information and insist that your medical providers bill your health insurance for your medical bills.
What will happen is, most likely, a couple of weeks after your accident you will receive a letter from your health insurance provider saying they received a bill for medical treatment, and they will ask you if it was related to an accident with a third party?
You need to be honest with them and tell them, yes, you were involved in an accident. And give them the information they are looking for which most likely will be the claim number and insurance company for the individual who caused the accident.
Then, your health insurance company will likely send you a lien letter. This informs you that they have a stake in the outcome of your recovery and that they expect to get reimbursed for their expenses when you resolve your case.
Still, its better to use your health insurance to pay your medical bills because that avoids these bills going to collections. Not to mention you will get the benefit of the contract rates that your health insurance company has with the medical providers.
I Don’t Have a Doctor I Can Go To
A lot of people will contact me and say, they don’t know where to go to for medical treatment. This should not be a factor in this day and age. We have the internet. We can find medical providers near us – chiropractors in particular, who will treat us on lien. Meaning, they’ll treat you and wait to get paid until your case settles.
In addition, if you have a personal injury attorney, that attorney should be able to refer you to doctors who can treat you. So, there’s really no reason why you can’t get the medical treatment that you need after a car accident.
How Much is My Case Worth?
One last thing is that in a personal injury case, there’s no compensation without ‘damages.’ And in this case, we’re talking about injuries.
It’s really a sliding scale as to how much your case is worth. It’s hard to know, but in reality, if you just suffered a back sprain or a strain then the case may not be worth that much (not to say that you can’t suffer severe back sprains and back strains).
Conversely, if you suffered a herniated disc, broken bones, traumatic brain injury or a loved one suffered a wrongful death, your case might be worth a significant amount of money.
Of course, medical injuries are not the only factor in your case. There are other damages such as economic damages like lost wages and medical bills. And there is compensation for emotional distress and pain and suffering as well.
If you were involved in an accident and have questions about whether you should go to the doctor after the accident, contact our office for a free strategy session at 1-847-305-4105.
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