Don’t Wait to Seek Medical Treatment: Motor Vehicle Accidents’ Rule Number One

February 28, 2023

Many factors determine how an insurance adjuster determines the value of your car wreck claim. While some of these factors are beyond your control, there are a few things you can do to not only protect your interests, but to thwart the insurance company’s efforts to undercut your claim. This article focuses on Rule Number One: In the event that you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, do not wait to seek medical treatment.

What to do after you’ve been in a car wreck

If you are in pain in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.  One of the most common tactics utilized by auto insurance companies to discount the value of a claim is to exploit delays in treatment. Waiting even just a few days to go to the hospital or see your family doctor will be held against you by the adjuster assigned to your case. When it comes time to discuss a potential settlement with the insurance company, they will argue, “If you had really been hurt, you would have gone to the doctor right away.”

In most (but not all) cases, you will start to experience pain or discomfort within the first 30-60 minutes following a collision. In all likelihood, you will still be at the scene of the wreck when these initial symptoms begin to develop. If this occurs, let the responding police officer know that you are in pain, and the officer will note this in the collision report. At that point, you will likely be offered an ambulance transport to the nearest hospital. Whether or not you decide to accept this offer, it is critical that you seek treatment either at your local ER or an urgent care center within 24 hours of the wreck. This will allow medical professionals to not only evaluate and diagnose your injuries but also permit your attending physician to document the mechanism of injury (i.e., motor vehicle collision).

Do I go to the emergency room after a car accident?

When trying to decide whether to visit an ER or an urgent care, you need to consider the nature of your injuries and symptoms. If you struck your head in the wreck or briefly lost consciousness, or if you are having pain in your neck or back, your doctor will likely want to perform a CT scan of your head or spine. In this event, most urgent care centers are not equipped to conduct this sort of diagnostic testing. As such, if you are having pain in your head, neck or back, or if you are experiencing severe pain in any part of your body, your best bet will be to go to the ER to seek medical treatment.

In some instances, your symptoms might not manifest until 12-24 hours after your wreck. It is not uncommon, after having few, if any, complaints immediately after a collision, to wake up the next morning with significant pain and discomfort. In this event, the same rule applies: Seek treatment as soon as possible. While your initial instinct might be to call your family doctor and schedule an appointment, there is a good chance that he or she won’t be able to see you for at least a week or two. Again, documenting your injury with a medical professional sooner rather than later is a critical component of your claim. Do not expect to receive empathy from an insurance adjuster when you attempt to explain why it was two weeks before you saw a doctor after your wreck. A visit to a local urgent care will go a long way in cutting off this line of attack from the insurance company.

Finally, make sure you comply with any instructions or referrals you receive from whichever doctor you  initially see. If you are encouraged to go see your primary care doctor or if you are referred to a specialist, be certain to schedule those follow-up appointments as soon you can.

Seeking medical treatment immediately after a car wreck is vital to protecting your interests when it comes time to present your claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In the event that you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, the experienced attorneys at Morton & Gettys are here to help. Contact us today to discuss your unique situation.

Morton & Gettys Personal Injury Practice in South Carolina

If you’ve been involved in a complex auto accident, you need an experienced attorney by your side. At Morton & Gettys Personal Injury group, we are dedicated securing the outcome you deserve. Unlike insurance companies, we have your best interests at heart. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.