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How to Choose a Medical Provider After an Accident

A woman with headache is seeing a doctor

Following a car accident, seeking proper medical care from a licensed physician and the right medical provider can prevent injury complications and ensure compensation for medical bills and recovery.

Car Accidents: Seek Proper Medical Care

Finding immediate medical help from a licensed medical professional after a car accident is imperative. Even minor fender benders that don’t cause painful injuries can lead to complications if injuries are not properly evaluated and treated right away. Symptoms of various serious injuries are not apparent immediately after a crash. Delayed treatment could result in permanent damages, disabilities, or even death.

A car crash often causes hidden injuries and health risks that require immediate medical attention. While visible injuries like cuts, scrapes, twisted ankles, and fractured wrists may be treated at the accident scene by emergency medical responders, it’s impossible to see some internal injuries without further medical evaluation. It’s common for personal injury lawyers to see life-threatening conditions that surface days or even weeks after a car crash has occurred.

The most common car accident injury with delayed symptoms is whiplash, which is caused by a sudden forward or sideways jerk to the head. Whiplash symptoms such as headaches and neck pain can take weeks or months to surface. Other invisible injuries often present common symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Neck and back stiffness
  • Lower back and tailbone pain
  • Severe bruising
  • Numbness in limbs
  • Abdominal pain

Many injuries that present serious complications can only be diagnosed properly using special equipment that produces X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Typically, these tests are performed in hospital emergency departments, urgent care centers, and by licensed physicians and specialists.

While X-rays are commonly used to diagnose fractured and broken bones, CT scans and MRIs are used to evaluate soft tissue injuries, damages to internal organs, and head trauma that do not show up on X-rays. It is not uncommon for personal injury lawyers to see car crash injury victims who suffer a stroke when whiplash, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal damages occur.

Choosing the Right Medical Care

Choosing the right medical care after a car accident may be a life-saving decision. Medical professionals urge car accident victims to seek immediate medical care, even if they think they don’t need it or don’t feel any pain. Medical experts offer important tips on getting help and choosing the right medical services for the best outcome after a car accident. It is recommended that victims:

Don’t Wait to Seek Medical Care

Since many car accident injuries are not visible, seeking immediate medical care can uncover a variety of serious hidden injuries that may mean the difference between life and death. Common hidden injuries include soft tissue lacerations; torn ligaments; punctured internal organs; internal bleeding; slipped or herniated spinal discs; kidney damage; head trauma; and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries may not show up for days or weeks, but any delay in medical evaluation and treatment may lead to life-threatening consequences.

Choose the Right Physician

Many insurance plans route patients to primary care providers (PCP) for general care. While this works for many minor health concerns, a car accident is not one of them. Although a PCP is trained to treat a variety of conditions, he/she is not equipped to identify and treat car accident injuries like whiplash, concussions, and internal trauma. After a car accident, it’s important to find a specialist who can run the necessary tests to properly diagnose, evaluate, and treat hidden injuries.

Give the Doctor Specific Information

Whether victims choose to seek treatment in a hospital ER, an urgent care clinic, or through a private physician, it is essential that they are honest with the attending physician about their injuries. To help the doctor do an accurate evaluation, patients should share the following information:

  • The date the car accident occurred
  • Specific circumstances of the car accident
  • What symptoms are occurring
  • When symptoms began
  • The severity of symptoms
  • Complete medical history

The attending physician should also know about any previous injuries and pre-existing health conditions that may have an impact to ensure the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. In some cases, personal injury lawyers witness medical malpractice due to a patient’s inaccurate diagnosis, improper treatment, unnecessary surgery, and wrong prescription medications.

Ask the Right Questions

A car accident victim should be proactive about a medical diagnosis and treatment plan by asking the right questions. Medical records become vital evidence for injuries sustained in a car crash. If an injury claim is filed with a personal injury lawyer, the insurance company will check for medical treatment within 72 hours of the accident. The insurer will also request documented medical evidence by a licensed medical professional for a diagnosis and treatment plan to evaluate the injury claim.

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