The Importance of Going to the Hospital After a Car Accident

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in the U.S. spend over 1 million days in the hospital every year as a result of car crashes. The people who visit emergency rooms immediately after an accident can suffer from a number of different injuries. Some of the most common injuries include whiplash, internal injuries, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord damage.

A few of these injuries—especially traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage—are life-threatening injuries that need to be treated immediately. It’s understandable why car accident victims with these injuries would head to the hospital right away. But, many people may not understand why someone with a nonlife-threatening injury such as whiplash would go to the hospital. The truth is that if you are injured in a car accident, it’s best to seek medical attention right away, even if you do not have life-threatening injuries. Here’s why:

Symptoms May Be Delayed

It’s important for car accident victims to understand that injury symptoms do not always appear right after a collision. Your body releases adrenaline in stressful situations, such as in the moments leading up to and following a crash. Adrenaline masks pain, which means you may not experience any discomfort from your injuries until hours after the accident when the adrenaline levels in your body start to fall.

It’s also possible that the symptoms you experience immediately following the crash will begin to worsen over the next several hours. What seems like a minor injury can quickly progress into a major one. You should never take the “wait and see” approach with your health, which is why it’s best to seek medical attention right away. A doctor should be able to diagnose the injury even if you have not started to experience all of the symptoms quite yet.

Waiting Too Long to Seek Medical Treatment Could Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Seeking medical attention right after a crash is not only important for your health, it’s also crucial if you want to recover compensation in a personal injury case.

Shortly after the accident, an insurance adjuster from the at-fault party’s insurance company will contact you to discuss the case. The insurance adjuster is responsible for investigating the accident to determine who is to blame and the extent of your injuries. One of the first things the insurance adjuster will need to see is your medical records, which will allow the insurance company to verify your injuries.

If there is a gap between the time of the accident and the time you went to a doctor, the insurance company will see this as a red flag. This gap in time—no matter how small—can be used by the insurance adjuster to reduce the value of your claim. Insurance adjusters may argue your injuries are not as serious as you are claiming since you did not think you needed emergency treatment. They can also argue there’s no way of knowing how you sustained the injuries since you did not seek treatment immediately after the crash. If these arguments are effective, the insurance adjuster could deny your claim or offer far less than you deserve for your injuries.

Car Accident Victims Receive the Best Care at Hospitals

Car accident victims have a number of options when it comes to where to go for medical treatment after a crash. Some car accident victims think it is easier to go to a walk-in clinic than a hospital since the wait times are usually shorter. However, these facilities offer very limited services. In fact, many walk-in clinics do not even have X-ray machines. As a result, it’s possible you could end up wasting your time seeing a doctor who cannot properly diagnose your injuries.

Many car accident victims consider going to chiropractors right after the crash—especially if they believe they have an injury affecting their muscles, ligaments, or joints. Chiropractors are healthcare professionals that are trained to treat musculoskeletal system injuries. But, they are not trained to treat any other part of the body. Therefore, a chiropractor will not be able to identify and treat other injuries that you sustained in the accident.

In addition, insurance adjusters often place a lower value on claims involving chiropractic care. Because of this, visiting a chiropractor after an accident could affect your ability to recover compensation.

Walk-in clinics and chiropractors offer useful services, but not for people who have just been involved in a car accident. Hospitals are staffed with highly sought after doctors and surgeons that are trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of injuries. Car accident victims will receive the best treatment available when they visit a hospital, not a walk-in clinic or chiropractic center.

The Bottom Line

So, should every car accident victim visit the hospital after a crash? Not necessarily. Car accident victims should visit a hospital if they are seriously injured or if the events of the accident are a blur, which could indicate head trauma. If you are not seriously injured, it’s reasonable to visit your doctor’s office instead of the emergency room. But, if the accident occurred after hours, you may have no other choice but to go to the hospital.

The bottom line is it can be hard to determine if it is appropriate to go to the hospital or not. Remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not sure about the severity of your injuries, head to the hospital right away.

If you have been injured in a car accident, seek legal representation from our experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. Let our personal injury attorneys negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Carpenter & Zuckerman today to schedule a free consultation with our team of knowledgeable personal injury lawyers.

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