There is no set rule governing how long you have to go to the hospital after an accident. However, there are various considerations to weigh in deciding if and when to obtain emergency medical treatment. Your health and well-being should always be your top concern, and we encourage you to err on the side of caution when deciding if you should see a doctor after a New York car accident.
From a legal perspective, if you have any injury whatsoever, you should seek medical care as a way to begin a paper trail that links your injuries and the car accident. This will protect your rights if you decide to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Our legal team can advise you on steps to take after your car accident. We can handle your insurance claim for you or start a lawsuit on your behalf if indicated.
In This Article
- Delaying Treatment for Your Injuries Could Worsen Them and Your Case
- Let a Medical Professional Determine Whether You Need Medical Treatment
- Hospitals Are a Sound Choice for Receiving Medical Treatment
- Claim Evaluation Is Also Dependent on How Soon You Seek Medical Treatment
- An Attorney at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. Will Help You Fight for Compensation
Delaying Treatment for Your Injuries Could Worsen Them and Your Case
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. Delaying medical treatment may put your overall health at risk.
For example, a traumatic brain injury may worsen as bleeding and swelling inside the skull increase. You may have headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms in the first few minutes after the crash, which are all signs you should go to the hospital after a car accident. Failure to do so may lead you to later pass out or even suffer life-long brain damage.
Getting an assessment by a medical professional might have allowed treatment that prevented the lasting effects.
Regardless of the type of accident, the consequences of leaving your injuries untreated can snowball negatively over the long run, both medically and legally. There are several reasons why you should get medical care as soon as possible after a crash in New York City or on Long Island. They include:
Underlying Injuries Remain Hidden Until You Get Medical Care
If you delay treatment, this may further add to your injuries. Injuries that are minor could become severe or even life-threatening without prompt examinations and treatment. Even if you feel that you do not need medical treatment and think the pain or other symptoms will subside or go away without it, you should still seek medical care 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. For example, the following injuries are not as easily detected without further medical inspection:
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Sprains or strains
- Concussions and other head injuries
For example, a traumatic brain injury may worsen as bleeding and swelling inside the skull increase. You may have headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms in the first few minutes after the crash, but later pass out or even suffer life-long brain damage. Getting an assessment by a medical professional might have allowed treatment that prevented the lasting effects.
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.”
In situations when an ambulance responds to the crash, you should let the paramedics give you a preliminary evaluation and heed their advice about whether they should transport you. They are trained to assess emergent injuries and can determine if a trip to the local emergency department is called for. Insurance could cover the cost of the ambulance ride, if necessary.
It Can Be Harder to Relate the Accident to Your Injuries If You Delay Treatment
While there isn’t really a rule on how long you have to go to the hospital after a car accident, the longer you wait, the harder it might be to link your injuries to the collision versus another causal event.
If you intend to pursue compensation for your injuries, you will want as much evidence as possible that establishes the car accident as the main causal factor of your injuries beyond the at-fault driver’s negligence. If you wait too long to seek medical attention, the defendant or their insurance company might argue for positions such as:
- Your injuries were not serious because you did not seek medical attention right away, so your claims about your current injuries may be false.
- Another event might have occurred after the car accident that actually led to your current injuries.
- You waited too long to get medical treatment, so you are partially to blame for why your injuries worsened or required extensive treatment.
The defendant’s insurer might try to paint your actions as evidence that you were not hurt initially and, after the passage of time, have now concocted a false claim. This is in keeping with the ultimate goal of many insurance companies, which is to reduce paying out claims as much as possible. Getting prompt medical care and enlisting the help of a car accident lawyer are two ways to protect your rights.
Your relevant medical records will be vital evidence to prove a fault-based claim on your behalf. The closer to the time and date of the crash they begin, the stronger the case showing the at-fault driver caused the injuries and the treatment they necessitated. Once you get treatment for your injuries, our legal team will use your medical records as evidence for your case, showing the physical harm the at-fault driver caused.
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Let a Medical Professional Determine Whether You Need Medical Treatment
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident and is now experiencing any level of pain, lack of usual function, or other symptoms, you should get a physical exam by a doctor or physician. You should, at the very least, see a doctor at:
- Your local emergency department
- Your primary care physician’s office
- An urgent care or walk-in clinic
If you are diagnosed with injuries or your doctor has concerns, you may want to seek post-acute care treatment at a multi-disciplinary medical facility that treats accident victims and get treated by:
- An orthopedist
- A neurologist
- A physical medicine doctor
- Other specialists as needed based on your injuries and symptoms
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.
Urgent care facilities also offer comprehensive diagnostic testing and treatment options for acute care. One’s own primary care physician can be a third choice for post-accident injury emergency treatment. If you see any specialists for specific conditions that may be affected by your accident injuries, a call to their office might be warranted.
For example, imagine you regularly see a sports medicine doctor because of concerns about your knee. If you hit it in the crash and are experiencing unusual pain in the joint, you will want to contact their office to determine if they believe you should make an appointment.
Alternative Treatment Can Be Sought Out Afterward
Initially, you may want to visit a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility for your assessment. Some patients seek out alternative treatment, but keep in mind that you will want to build a paper trail comprised of traditional medical care, as this involves diagnosing injuries and prescribing treatment. Alternative medicine is considered complementary to traditional medicine.
Alternative medicine workers may include:
- Physical therapists
- Massage therapists
While you absolutely have the personal choice to select a medical clinic or alternative medicine center, keep in mind that clinics that offer alternative treatment may be limited as to the services that they can provide. For example, if you are in pain, most chiropractors cannot prescribe medication.
We have found that some multi-disciplinary facilities combine traditional medicine and alternative treatment approaches. However, you will want to ensure you are seeing a medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat a full range of injuries before going to your chiropractor.
Hospitals Are a Sound Choice for Receiving Medical Treatment
Car accidents can inflict serious injuries from internal bleeding, fractures, or broken bones. Hospitals can cater to your injuries if you get injured in a car accident. This is why we recommend letting paramedics transfer you to the local trauma center if they believe you have injuries.
The primary reason why you should go to a hospital is the expertise and quality of care that one can receive there. Hospitals have access to some of the best physicians, surgeons, labs, and medical supplies. If there is any chance that you have serious injuries, the hospital is the best option for getting care, whether that is in the emergency department or seeing a doctor with an office there.
So when should you go to the hospital after a car accident? 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.”
Medical Records from a Hospital May Be More Powerful
While it may be unfair, insurance companies and defense counsel may argue for a lower value of the claim if you sought treatment somewhere other than a hospital emergency room or traditional medical clinic. They might try to cast the injuries as being of a lesser level of severity.
By visiting a hospital, which is recognized as more science-based over alternative treatments, your medical records will hold up better at trial. We can use records from alternative medical clinics to support the diagnosis you receive at a hospital, but ultimately, you will want traditional medical records to be the core of your diagnosis.
For example, let us consider what might happen for a car accident victim who suffered back pain after a crash:
- If they go to the hospital first and receive a diagnosis of a relatively minor back injury, they will have the medical records to support the pain and limitations they report and can go to their chiropractor for an adjustment later.
- If they go to the chiropractor first, the insurer may claim they were hurt by the adjustment since there are no hospital records documenting the crash injury.
Claim Evaluation Is Also Dependent on How Soon You Seek Medical Treatment
The timing of your medical treatment will impact the claim evaluation by the insurance company. In a tech-savvy world, insurance companies use software programs to evaluate claims. The software uses algorithms that consider certain factors to generate a target settlement amount for the carrier. These factors may include:
- Medical expenses
- A medically-substantiated work disability
- The extent of your car’s damage
- How immediately you sought medical treatment
If there is a delay in the treatment, this may impact the amount of a settlement offer. In order to get a fair settlement offer and have the claim considered with the seriousness it truly deserves, you should seek medical attention immediately after an accident. Then, be sure to report everything that hurts to medical treatment providers.
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An Attorney at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. Will Help You Fight for Compensation
Car accident injuries usually demand immediate medical care. You can consult with a member of our team and retain an attorney to negotiate the claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company and, when indicated, litigate the case. Our attorneys will fight for your rights in your personal injury case.
If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, depending upon the unique circumstances of your case, our attorneys will go to trial for you. Get a no-obligation case review and free consultation by calling us.