You have suffered a serious motor vehicle accident. No matter how minor you think the injury is, the first step is to seek medical treatment right away. Not only does this ensure you are not suffering a more serious injury, but it protects you in the event you need to file a car accident claim later, too.
When you meet with a physician, whether it is the emergency room doctor or your family physician, you need to ask questions that will help your case and keep your records correct.
How Long after an Accident Should I Wait to See a Doctor?
Ideally, you should go to the doctor immediately after the accident. Adrenaline is flowing immediately after an incident, which can mask serious injuries. In a few hours to days following your injuries, pain might set in and indicate that you could have more serious trauma.
Most professionals agree that victims should never wait more than 72 hours to see a physician after a car accident. 72 hours is considered the reasonable window for an insurance company too – because a person would notice their symptoms and injuries within that three-day period and reasonably seek treatment. After those 72 hours, it opens the door for the insurance company to contest and outright deny your claim.
Leaving a gap in medical treatment can also make it impossible to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit later – regardless of how genuine the injuries and damages might be.
The Consequences of Gaps in Medical Coverage
Any gap in medical treatment following a car accident is not advised. Delays in treatment will reduce your compensation value and give the insurance company the argument that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
A medical doctor is trained to take your medical history, and they can examine you after a car accident to catch injuries, treat them, and prevent them from becoming more serious.
Even if you do not have health insurance or the financial means to see a doctor, you should still seek medical treatment. You will be able to receive compensation for your medical costs through your injury claim. Therefore, avoiding treatment could end up costing you more long-term.
Essential Tips When Seeing a Doctor Following Your Car Accident
Now that you have taken the steps to see a doctor, you need to ask the right questions and make sure the right information is put into your chart. Here are just some of the tips to consider when you meet with your physician for the first time.
Take Notes and Keep a Journal
From the day of the accident, start a journal. Here is an opportunity to write down your injuries, symptoms, and how they affect your life. You can also write down which doctor you see, when, what was discussed, treatments, and your thoughts.
Be highly specific in this journal and use a degree pain scale of 1 to 10 when describing your pain that day. Also, write down how much sleep you get every night and what is keeping you from sleeping.
Keep Medical Notes
In a separate file, you should document everything regarding your medical expenses and treatments. This includes the names and contact information of doctors you visit such as a physician, physical therapist, or chiropractor.
Keep receipts for any medications you are prescribed, out-of-pocket costs, and medical equipment you purchase.
Every form of communication should be kept in that file, including laboratory notifications, emails and notes from your doctor’s appointments, and other medical documents pertaining to the injury.
Ask the Right Questions
You should ask your physician a few questions to help gather evidence and get a better understanding of your injuries:
- How serious are my injuries?
- What is my prognosis, and will I recover?
- What caused my injuries?
- When can I return to work, or will I be able to return to work?
While your attorney will ask these questions too, asking them early can help. This is so that when you meet with an attorney, you can provide them with enough information to determine if you have a valid case.
Meet with an Accident Attorney
You have seen a doctor and you know that you have suffered serious injuries. Now is the time to speak with an accident attorney and start the process of seeking compensation. An attorney can help negotiate with insurance companies, gather evidence, and get the compensation you need to pay for medical costs, lost wages, and your pain and suffering.