Whether a person should go to the hospital right after a car accident is a common question. Those who suffer visible, serious injuries usually get medical attention immediately after an accident, but victims with hidden injuries or those who don’t know if they have injuries may not get the care they need right away.
Always default to the safest choice: Yes, you should go to the hospital, or at least seek medical treatment, right after a car accident. The insurance company will argue that you must not have been injured if you didn’t seek medical attention soon after the collision occurs.
What Should You Do if a Car Crash Injures You?
The moments after impact in an auto accident can leave you feeling dazed. You may not be entirely sure of what has just happened or whether you actually suffered an injury.
If you find yourself in a motor vehicle crash, remain calm. While difficult, it will help you keep safe while you consider what to do next. After the car stops, look at your surroundings and assess whether you or your passengers have any injuries.
If you are in serious pain, think you have broken bones, or can see that you have other injuries that could limit your movement, do not move or get out of the vehicle until help arrives. The only exception is if your life is in danger if you stay where you are.
In a life-threatening situation after a crash, you should make every attempt to get to safety while you wait for emergency services to arrive. These situations include scenarios where your vehicle is on fire or threatened by a nearby fire, your vehicle has fallen or may fall into a body of water, or you are in immediate danger from other oncoming vehicles.
If you are physically able to do so, call 911 and request emergency medical services (EMS) and police to come to the scene. If you cannot call yourself, ask a bystander or another person involved in the crash to call for help.
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will stabilize you and anyone else who is injured at the scene and then transport you to the nearest available emergency room for further evaluation and treatment of your injuries.
What if You Believe That Your Car Accident Injury Is Not Serious?
If you do not believe you have severe injuries and you can safely move without causing yourself additional harm, get to a safe location after the crash. If your vehicle is still in the middle of the road, you are at risk of a secondary accident with another oncoming vehicle. If your vehicle can no longer drive, exit your vehicle and get away from the flow of traffic until help arrives.
Call 911 and ask for police and EMS to respond to the scene. Even if you do not think you have serious injuries, undergo an initial evaluation at the scene. If the EMTs recommend that you go to an emergency room by ambulance, follow their recommendations. If you choose not to go by ambulance, have a friend or family member take you to an emergency room or urgent care center for further evaluation of your injuries.
What If You Believe You Are Uninjured After a Crash?
A car accident causes inevitable chaos and confusion. Your body is flooded with adrenaline as you try to make sure you are safe, call for help if needed, and gather information from others in the crash. Always call the police after a crash. Victims often believe they have no injuries, only to later discover they were wrong. Adrenaline masks injury symptoms after a car crash. Victims can arrive home and, once they finally relax, begin to feel discomfort and pain.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You Go to a Hospital or Emergency Room?
If at any time you feel pain, discomfort, discover bruising, or see other signs of an injury, you should immediately go to the nearest hospital or urgent care center for a complete medical evaluation. Do not hesitate to get medical care even if you believe that you were not injured. Injury symptoms often show up hours or even days after the accident. It is not an all-or-nothing situation where you can only discover injuries while at the crash scene.
It is acceptable and understandable that an accident victim may not notice the injuries they sustain in a crash right away. Often, a victim focuses on complying with the police and gathering the information they need at the crash scene. You may not realize you are in pain or recognize the warning signs of a potential injury in the hours after an accident happens. This does not mean you cannot get the help you need when you later realize you have an injury.
If at any time, you feel unwell, pain, or discomfort, get medical care right away. While it is never too late to seek care for a car accident injury, do so as soon as you realize you are injured. Do not wait for it to get better on its own or ignore the symptoms. Once you recognize something is wrong, immediately go to a hospital or urgent care center for an evaluation and get the treatment you need.
Why Do You Need to Go to a Doctor After an Accident?
There is a high risk of complications and further damage when you do not get prompt treatment for injuries after a crash. Delays in treatment can lead to longer recovery times, permanent damage, and, in some cases, can even be life-threatening. Seek an evaluation from a medical provider anytime you are in a car accident.
Injury Symptoms Do Not Always Develop Immediately After a Crash
The reality is that some of the most serious car accident injuries are not visible on the surface and the symptoms can develop slowly over time. Injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or an internal organ injury are two of the most serious examples. Other less severe but still damaging injuries such as torn ligaments, sprained muscles, or nerve damage may not be noticeable at first but after a few hours, you may experience swelling, pain, and limitation of movement.
Give Yourself the Best Chance at Recovery
The sooner you can undergo a medical evaluation after an accident, the sooner you can receive treatment for your injuries. Whether you need surgery, immobilization, or other medical interventions, your medical team can ensure you get the help you need as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent you from suffering permanent damage or an extended recovery process that can arise if your condition worsens.
Protect Your Legal Right to Seek Compensation for Damages
It can be a challenge to seek compensation for losses related to an injury if you do not seek medical care for that injury. The sooner you get medical treatment for your injuries, the stronger your claim for damages will be. When an attorney helps you prepare an insurance claim after an accident, they need evidence not only of the accident but also of your injuries, treatments, and the timeline for your recovery.
What Injuries Are Most Common in Motor Vehicle Accidents?
Car accident injuries vary depending on where a person sat in the vehicle, what they did just before impact, the force of the accident, and the unique reaction of the victim’s body. In the same accident, some victims go unhurt while others die.
Common motor vehicle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Dislocations and fractures
How Much Money Can You Recover If You Are the Victim of a Car Accident?
The compensation you can recover after a crash depends on several factors.
If another driver caused your damages, you can seek compensation from their auto insurance policy or the at-fault driver directly if their insurance coverage is insufficient or they do not have insurance. While most victims of a car accident successfully settle through insurance negotiations, in some situations you may need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
Compensation after a car crash that leads to injuries can include:
- Medical costs for treatment and future medical expenses for your injuries.
- Loss of income if the victim was unable to work or must restrict the amount or type of work they do while they recover from their injuries.
- Pain and suffering from the injuries, including mental and emotional impacts.
- Property damage to the victim’s personal property, such as their vehicle.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer if You Suffer Injuries in a Crash?
If you suffer an injury in a motor vehicle crash, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The costs of serious injuries can be great.
Insurance companies are in an advantageous position when dealing with victims of car accidents. The company and its representatives will do anything they can to try to convince a victim to take less in compensation than they deserve. In cases where there is a dispute as to who is at fault for the accident, it is common for insurers to deny the victim’s claim altogether.
A car accident attorney can represent you in your claim and protect your rights against the insurance company as you try to get the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can evaluate the facts and circumstances of the accident and your injuries and calculate the damages you deserve for your losses.
An attorney can then work with you to negotiate an insurance claim. In most cases, your case will resolve during the claims process, and you will reach a settlement agreement with an insurer that meets your needs. However, in some cases, the insurance company refuses to settle. In this situation, you need an attorney by your side who can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.