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How Long After A Car Accident Do You Have to Go to the Hospital?

There is no set rule governing how long you have to go to the hospital after an accident. There are various considerations to weigh in deciding if and when to obtain emergency medical treatment. 

By definition, no one knows when an accident will happen. When the injuries from an automobile accident are serious, immediate medical attention should be obtained. Delay in getting the proper medical treatment may put your overall health at risk.  Regardless of the type of accident, the consequences of injuries left untreated can snowball negatively over the long run, both medically and legally.

If there is a delay in the treatment, it may further add to your injuries. Even if you feel that you do not need medical treatment thinking the pain or other symptoms will subside or go away without treatment, you should still seek medical treatment as a precaution in such situations. Many times, the shock of the accident will mask the real pain, allowing the underlying injury to worsen if not treated. One should go to the emergency room, an urgent care facility, or to one’s own doctor to be examined as soon as possible. Such circumstances can truly be examples of “an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.”

Need for Medical Treatment

There is a dire need for medical treatment after an accident for every person injured that is experiencing any level of pain, lack of usual function, or other symptom(s).  One reason is that you do not want to jeopardize your health and should do everything to safeguard it. The second reason is the insurance companies will most likely try to characterize your claim as not being serious or legitimate if you do not seek treatment.

Your good faith intention of simply wanting to go on with your life, hoping the injury will resolve on its own, is likely to be twisted by the insurance carrier and defense lawyers for the at-fault party. They will most likely try to paint your actions as evidence that you were not hurt initially and that, after the passage of time, have now concocted a false claim. They will argue, “if he/she was truly hurt, they would have had medical attention immediately.” This is in keeping with the ultimate goal for many of insurance companies, which is to reduce claims as much as possible. If medical treatment is not sought immediately it may have an impact on the ultimate recovery in a claim for injuries should you choose to make one.  

While you may choose a course of post-acute care treatment at a multi-disciplinary medical facility (for example, an office experienced at treating accident injury victims that has an internist, orthopedist, neurologist, physical medicine doctor and other medical professionals) or with a chiropractor that may have an acupuncturist, physical therapist, massage therapist and other allied professionals on staff, it is probably best, initially, to present to a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility.

While you absolutely have the personal choice to select a medical clinic or chiropractor’s office medical clinics may be limited as to the services that they can provide and if you are in pain, chiropractors cannot prescribe medication. The emergency room in the hospital is often a trauma center so everything needed for optimal care is likely readily accessible. A hospital emergency room will meet the need for getting total medical care, which is clearly the best option. Urgent care facilities are probably the second best choice in terms of the comprehensiveness of diagnostic testing and treatment options available for acute care, with one’s own primary care physician being a third choice for post-accident injury emergency treatment.

Hospitals Are Probably the Best Choice for Treatment

Car accidents can inflict serious injuries from internal bleeding, fracture, or broken bones. Hospitals are probably the wisest choice if you are injured in a car accident. The primary reason why you should go to hospital is the expertise and quality of care that one can receive at the hospital. Hospitals have access to some of the best physicians, surgeons, labs, and medical supplies.  This is not to say that a clinic or chiropractor’s officer does not have an efficient staff, however. 

When your health is on the line, the quality of care will make a difference in your healing process. Additionally, while it may be unfair, insurance companies and defense counsel may argue for a lower value of the claim when the initial treatment is provided at somewhere other than a hospital emergency room, trying to cast the injuries as being of a lesser level of severity. By visiting a hospital, this should ensure that you have the best possible treatment. The best treatment choice may in turn impact the claim evaluation.

Claim Evaluation

The timing of your medical treatment will impact the claim evaluation by the insurance company. In a tech savvy world, insurance companies use software program to evaluate the claim. Using various algorithms, the software — based upon such factors as medical expenses, medically substantiated work disability, and extent of auto damage — generates a target settlement dollar figure for the carrier. Another significant factor in these calculations is the immediacy or delay of initial treatment.

If there is a delay in the treatment, this may impact the amount of a settlement offer. In order to get the best possible offer and do what is possible to have the claim considered with the seriousness it truly deserves, one should seek the best possible medical attention immediately after an accident being sure to report everything that hurts to medical treatment providers. 

Selection of an Attorney

Car accident injuries usually demand immediate medical care. Injured claimants are also well advised to consult with and retain an attorney to negotiate the claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company and, when indicated, litigate the case. You need someone who is relentless with the expertise in personal injury law to fight for your rights.

Insurance companies will do everything possible to pay very little or even nothing for the claim. Our attorneys have years of experience to make sure that you receive the best possible settlement. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, depending upon the unique circumstances of your case, our attorneys will go to trial for you. Today is the best time to call for a no-obligation case review and free consultation Please give us a call at 516-932-0400. You will be glad you did.

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