The stress of a car accident causes your body’s adrenaline levels to surge. The adrenaline rush, also known as your fight or flight response, dampens your ability to feel pain.
In other words, you might be hurt and not even know it.
Everyone agrees that people with life-threatening injuries should go to the emergency room. But car accident victims with serious injuries often refuse an ambulance or a trip to the ER because they believe they feel fine, when it’s really the adrenaline masking their pain.
Then, a day or two later, the adrenaline wears off—and the pain kicks in.
That’s why you should always see a doctor after a car accident, even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt. But which doctor should you see? Here are our suggestions.
For Most Injuries, Go To The ER First
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, it’s often a good idea to go to the emergency room. Emergency room staff are trained to handle traumatic injuries. They will treat your emergency medical needs and prescribe you basic medication, such as anti-inflammatory pain relievers or muscle relaxants.
If your injuries are not severe, you should visit your primary care physician or a walk-in urgent care clinic later that day or the following day.
Getting immediate medical attention will help you build a strong case if you seek compensation later on.
Follow Up With Your Primary Doctor
Many car accident injuries worsen with time, but the treatments and medication you received at the ER should help ease the pain. A few days after your visit to the ER, you should follow up with your primary care doctor.
Get A Referral To A Specialist
Your primary care doctor may refuse to see you. This is for two main reasons. First, your doctor probably doesn’t want to get involved in litigation. Second, your doctor likely focuses on internal medicine rather than the types of injuries that happen in car accidents.
The best thing your primary care doctor can do for you is to refer you to specialists who treat your kinds of injuries. Your doctor might tell you to see an orthopedist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a chiropractor, or a physical, occupational, or vocational therapist. During the course of your treatment, you may also be seen by a radiologist, a burn specialist, a plastic surgeon, or a general surgeon.
Seeing specialists doesn’t just get you more personalized treatment. Your doctors’ specialized knowledge also ensures that your medical record will describe your injuries in as much detail as possible. This is important because the insurance company will refer to your medical record when it is determining how much you should be paid for your injuries.
A doctor who has experience with car accident injuries will understand how important it is to include information about the causes and long-term effects of your injuries.
Get Maintenance Care
After you’ve been seeing your doctors and therapists for follow-up care for a while, they may tell you that your rehabilitative treatment is complete, or that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
Your medical improvement may have reached a plateau, but don’t make the mistake of believing your treatment is over. Active rehabilitative treatment should always be followed by palliative or maintenance care.
The purpose of maintenance treatment is to maintain as much health and body function as possible. Your rehabilitative doctor should give you a detailed plan for your maintenance care. It might say to see a chiropractor or a massage therapist once a month, get an MRI every year, see a neurologist twice a year, and so on, possibly for the rest of your life.
Your prescription for maintenance care will help you convince an insurance adjuster or judge that you need compensation for future medical treatment, in addition to the treatment you have already had.
Legal Help While You Recover
Recovering from your injuries should be your top priority after a car accident. Dealing with insurance companies and worrying about how you will pay for your care are stresses you don’t need when you’re trying to heal.
At the law offices of Peter Ventura, we help car accident victims get the compensation they deserve for their injuries. If you’ve been hurt in a crash and would like to learn more about how we can help you get the most from your claim, please contact us today to start your free and confidential consultation.