Should I go to the Hospital After a Car Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision, one of the first questions that goes through your mind is “Should I go to the hospital after a car accident?”
Unless the decision is made for you by first responders who transport you immediately to the emergency room, this is a common question.
You may hesitate when you think you’re not hurt badly, and it’s understandable that you may want to avoid medical care for many different reasons.
Whether because of cost, inconvenience, time, or other issues, you may decide to forego seeking treatment.
However, failing to visit a health care provider after a crash is a mistake. You put your well-being and rights at risk, and a California car accident attorney can explain why. Still, an overview should be enough to convince you about the importance of getting medical treatment for your injuries.
Why Proper Medical Care is Essential
The most important reason to seek appropriate treatment after an auto collision is your health. Your physical well-being should be your first priority, even if you think you’ve only suffered minor injuries. Motor vehicle crashes almost always involve violent force, which causes trauma to the human body even at low speeds.
All too often, victims of car accidents seem to feel fine – only to start experiencing great pain or discomfort a few days later. This scenario is common where:
- In the immediate aftermath of a crash, your body has generated a physiological response through the release of endorphins and adrenaline that stifle the sensation of pain;
- You’ve sustained soft tissue injuries, which sometimes don’t manifest for several days after experiencing trauma; and/or,
- You’ve suffered a brain injury that may include confusing or unfamiliar symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, and problems sleeping. Some victims assume these are natural effects after a car accident, but they can be symptomatic of more serious head injuries.
How Delays Can Adversely Affect Your Claim
Besides taking care of your health, the other key reason to seek medical care immediately after a traffic collision is the consequences for your rights. California law allows you to seek compensation for your losses from the responsible driver, a process that typically starts when you file a claim with that person’s insurance company.
Insurers are in business to make profits, so your claim is a threat to this objective. The claims adjuster serves the company, not your best interests. If you don’t head for treatment right away after a car accident, at a hospital or urgent care center:
- The insurance company may argue that you weren’t hurt badly, otherwise, you would have sought medical care;
- A claims adjuster could contest that your injuries weren’t caused by the car accident, but by some other event that occurred afterward or,
- The insurer might accuse you of exaggerating or faking your injuries when a significant amount of time passes before you visit a health care provider.
Where to Seek Medical Care After a Car Accident
In general, you should head to a medical facility that suits your needs, as treatment will vary depending on the nature and severity of your injuries.
Going to a hospital after a car accident is the right decision if:
- You’re bleeding excessively;
- You lost consciousness or suffered head trauma;
- You sustained injuries to internal organs;
- You suffered back, spinal cord, or neck injuries;
- You require surgeries
- You’re having difficulty breathing; or,
- Your injuries are otherwise life-threatening, catastrophic, or severe.
In other situations, you may simply need urgent care after a car accident. The rule of thumb is to consider whether your injuries require same-day treatment, but your life isn’t in danger. The advantage of an urgent care center is that there are often shorter waiting times; plus, these facilities are staffed by ER physicians and nursing staff, so the level of care is still appropriate.
Next Steps After Seeking Appropriate Treatment
Once your injuries are stabilized and you’re on the road to recovery, you should reach out to an auto collision lawyer to discuss your claim. There are several tasks you must undertake to preserve your rights and ensure you get the top compensation available by law.
California has a statute of limitations that allows you just two years to file a civil suit for your injuries, so time is of the essence to start working with an attorney.
A California Car Accident Lawyer Can Advise You on Your Claim
Hopefully, this explanation helps you understand why you should always answer YES when asking yourself the question “Should I go to the hospital after a car accident?”
Your rights and health are two of your most important assets, so you must do all you can to protect both.
If you’d like additional information about auto crash claims or need assistance with the process, please contact Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law. We can set up a free case evaluation to review your circumstances.