What Kind Of Doctor Should I See After A Car Accident?

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Legally reviewed by Alex Uriarte on January 3, 2023 Alex Uriarte is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

Getting into a car accident is a shocking and often painful experience. Still, for several reasons, many people try to “shake it off,” and may not even call 911 as they work to ignore a serious injury at the crash scene. They may refuse to see a medical professional or pursue an insurance claim or may wait too long to build a strong legal case. They may believe they are overreacting, think something is embarrassing about being hurt in a minor collision, or may have had a bad experience with a previous insurance claim. Regardless of why they believe they shouldn’t get help after a crash, this is a mistake.

If you have been in a car accident, no matter how small it might have seemed, it’s important to see a medical professional right away. A doctor can assess your injuries and provide the necessary treatment or medications to help manage any discomfort or pain you are experiencing. Doing this can help you avoid potential long-term issues and complications that could arise from more serious injuries, such as lasting physical or mental trauma.

The type of doctor you should see after an accident depends on the type of injury you have suffered. In some cases, it may be best to visit a family doctor, who can provide general medical care and diagnose any injuries. In other cases, you may need to visit a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon or an ophthalmologist. By starting with your primary care physician or working with the staff at the ER (if you took an ambulance to the hospital), you will get professional advice on the next steps to take, and identify the type of support you need.

In addition to seeing a doctor right away, you should also consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the necessary compensation for any medical bills or other damages incurred as a result of the accident. A lawyer can also help you navigate the complex claims process and provide the skilled legal representation needed to get the best possible outcome from your case.

So when is it time to see a doctor after a crash, and how to you determine who to see? Take a look below to learn a bit more about each of these decisions.

Signs That It’s Time To See a Doctor

The following are just a few of the major signs that it’s time for you to start working with a car accident doctor. As mentioned above, it’s in your best interest to start with your PCP if you don’t believe that you are in immediate danger. If you are experiencing issues like dizziness, confusion, sharp pains, bleeding, nausea, or other acute symptoms, call 911. 

Pain and Discomfort

Even if you feel fine after a car accident, it is important to seek medical attention right away. You could be dealing with injuries such as whiplash or internal bleeding that could become more serious if left untreated. Soft-tissue injuries like whiplash may not appear for a day or two after a crash, which is why it is so important that you NEVER make a statement about your condition at the scene of a crash. Something as simple as saying that you are not in any discomfort at the moment will be used against you throughout the claims process.

Additionally, seeking medical care can help provide evidence for insurance claims or future personal injury lawsuits. An experienced personal injury attorney can help tell the story of your injuries even if you do not get immediate medical care. However, it is much easier to establish a timeline and build your case if you do so.

Shock Symptoms

It is common for people to experience shock following a car accident and not realize the full extent of their injuries until later on. Shock symptoms can include dizziness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and headaches. It is important to get examined by a doctor so that these symptoms are addressed immediately and not left untreated.

If you feel uneasy at all, it’s best to consult with a professional who can give you an unbiased opinion on your condition. Many people spend their whole lives ignoring alarm bells in their bodies. The only party you are helping by doing this after a crash is the insurance company — a multimillion-dollar corporation to whom you owe nothing.

Mental Health

The emotional trauma from experiencing an accident can be just as damaging as the physical injuries sustained from the crash. It is important to have your mental health evaluated after an accident to ensure that you can cope with any post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety symptoms that may arise in the weeks after the incident occurs.

Working with a mental health professional in the days or weeks after a crash can help you identify the best plan for coping and managing the emotional trauma that comes with being involved in a serious accident. They may even be able to help you recognize that you are suffering from mental health issues that you may not be able to recognize in yourself at the moment.

Insurance Claims

Seeking medical attention soon after a car accident can improve your chances of having insurance claims accepted since there will be documentation of your injuries. Additionally, suppose you wait too long to go see a doctor. In that case, insurers may be skeptical about whether or not those injuries were caused by the collision in question or something else entirely.

Insurers often require victims to submit to “independent medical examinations,” but don’t let the name fool you — an IME is carried out by a medical professional who the insurer contracts, and if this is your only contact with a doctor, the evidence from the IME may be difficult to counter. The more contact you have with your own doctor after an accident, the more documentation you have to support your side of the story as your lawyer fights to get you the money you are owed.

When In Doubt, Call Your Doctor

Ultimately, it is important to get checked out by a doctor after a car accident and to keep careful records of all medical treatments and exams that you have received. This can help strengthen your case for insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits down the line. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. If you have any questions about whether or not a medical appointment is necessary, it is best to talk to both your doctor and lawyer before making a decision.

No one knows your body better than yourself, so if something doesn’t feel quite right following an accident, don’t hesitate to get it checked out by a medical professional. Getting the care you need immediately after a crash can help ensure that your body is taken care of and that any lingering injuries are given proper attention. Careful documentation of your visit with a doctor may also provide key evidence for insurance companies or personal injury lawsuits down the line. 1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service.