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Should I Go To The Hospital After A Car Accident?

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There are approximately 4 million emergency room visits related to car accidents every year in the United States. The people who visit emergency rooms after a car accident suffer a wide range of injuries from whiplash and other soft tissue injuries to head trauma and spinal cord damage.

Car accident victims should always go to the hospital immediately after a crash if they are in need of emergency medical attention. But, victims with nonlife-threatening injuries should also make it a priority to go to the hospital for medical attention right away. Why? Here are some of the many reasons:

Symptoms Don’t Always Appear Right Away

People often assume that they will be able to tell if they are injured right after the crash occurs. It’s true that victims are usually able to tell that they have sustained an injury after the crash. But, some victims do not notice symptoms of their injuries for hours or even days after an accident.

How does this happen? When the body senses potential danger, it automatically begins to release adrenaline to prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline blocks the pain receptors, which is why car accident victims often cannot tell their body is in pain immediately after a crash. Once the adrenaline wears off, car accident victims will finally be able to sense their pain again.

Because of the release of adrenaline, what may feel like a minor injury at the scene of the accident could actually be a major injury. For this reason, it’s best to seek medical attention so a doctor can examine the injury. Car accident victims that wait to see a doctor may find that the injury has become much worse by the time their adrenaline rush has gone away and they are able to feel pain. If the injury has worsened, it may be harder to treat.

Delayed Medical Treatment Could Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Seeking medical treatment as soon as possible after a car accident is also important if you plan on filing a personal injury claim. The at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible for compensating you for the injuries sustained in the accident. However, no insurance company will write a check to a car accident victim without first reviewing the victim’s medical records.

Besides determining if the injuries actually exist, the insurance adjuster will also look at the dates that you were treated. If you waited to see a doctor after an accident instead of going to the hospital right away, this will be a huge red flag for the insurance adjuster.

The insurance adjuster’s goal is to settle the case for as little as possible. Delayed medical treatment can help insurance adjusters accomplish this goal. The insurance adjuster may argue that the injuries are not as serious as you are claiming because if they were, you would have went to a doctor right away. Insurance adjusters can also argue that there’s no way to prove that the injuries were sustained in the car accident since you didn’t seek medical attention immediately after the crash. These arguments are not always effective, but if they are, they could significantly limit the amount of compensation that you are able to recover.

To prevent these problems, visit a hospital as soon as possible after a crash so a doctor can document when the injuries occurred and their severity.

Hospitals Offer Better Care Than Walk-In Clinics or Chiropractors

Car accident victims often think that it’s a good idea to go to a chiropractor or walk-in clinic after a crash, but that’s not necessarily true. Hospitals are known for having the best doctors in the community, so the medical care offered at these facilities will be of a higher quality than the care offered at a walk-in clinic.

Chiropractors specialize in injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, ligaments and joints. These healthcare providers are not trained to handle injuries that affect other areas of the body, which is why you should visit a hospital instead of a chiropractor’s office. A chiropractor will not be able to examine car accident victims to look for and diagnose other injuries. They will also not be able to provide a wide range of treatments that car accident victims often need after being involved in a crash.

Plus, insurance companies often place lower values on personal injury cases involving victims that sought chiropractic care after an accident. This is because insurance adjusters favor traditional treatments provided by hospitals and physicians over specialized chiropractor care. Therefore, it’s possible that visiting a chiropractor over the hospital could lower the value of your car accident claim.

Visiting the Hospital: Yes or No?

The answer to this question is “it depends.” Car accident victims should only go to the hospital if they believe they are injured—regardless of how minor the injury may seem. However, car accident victims who are certain that they did not hit their head against anything, jerk their head back and forth, or sustain an injury in any other way do not have to go the hospital. If the events of the accident are a blur, it may be hard to remember whether or not you could have hit your head or been thrown forward hard enough to cause whiplash. In this situation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Whenever you are in doubt about whether or not you are injured, it’s in your best interests to seek medical treatment.

Have you been injured in a car accident? Seeking medical attention should be your first priority. Then, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Let our experienced team of personal injury attorneys fight for the compensation that you deserve.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".