The answer to this question is pretty clear if you’ve suffered a serious injury from a car accident: Yes, you must get to an emergency department right away. Not all injuries from car accidents are visible to the lay person (or even a seasoned doctor), so imaging tests including x-rays, MRI’s, and CT scans may be necessary to fully evaluate your car accident injuries. If your injuries are minor, it’s still wise to get medical attention, especially if you’re considering filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Without documentation of your injuries and treatment for those injuries, you will not have a case.
Err on the Side of Caution: Get Medical Help
If you have health insurance or if you have money to pay for a visit to an emergency room, the best advice is go get checked out just to make sure you’re OK. In many cases, your car insurance policy or the other party’s insurance company will cover the cost of your ER visit.
Also, it’s important that you get medical treatment as soon after the car accident as possible for a few reasons. The longer you wait, the more damage those injuries may do to your body.
For instance, if you have a concussion and don’t know it, going home and going to sleep could have disastrous results on your health and well being. If you feel you only have a minor sprain or strain, you may continue to walk on a broken ankle, which will lead to a much longer recovery time and an inadequate healing of the bone. If you use a hand and arm not realizing you have a hairline fracture in your wrist, you can do permanent damage to that limb.
There’s another reason it’s very important to get to an ER right away following a car accident. If you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant’s insurance company is likely to assert that your failure to get medical treatment immediately means that you were not injured in the crash. The defendant may claim that you only decided to get medical treatment to help win your case. They will also say something like, “How bad could you possibly be injured if you didn’t even seek medical help right away?” By going to the emergency room or urgent care right after the accident, you remove the opportunity for the other side to attack your motive for seeking medical treatment at a later time.
Emergency departments are staffed with doctors and nurses trained to deal with trauma—more so than your primary care physician will be able to the next day at his/her office. This is another reason why it is important to go to the emergency room right after the car accident. If you do have broken bones, severe lacerations, contusions, or abrasions, you will receive the proper treatment by the highly trained ER staff, and any diagnostic testing can be done right on site.
If you were hurt in a car wreck in New York or Florida, please call us to investigate your case once you have been cleared to leave the hospital. We offer no-cost consultations to hear the details of your case and advise you on how to proceed.