A car accident causes undue stress to your body and your brain, whether you know it immediately or not. The adrenaline rush can result in emotional decisions instead of logical ones. This “fight or flight” response also explains why it can take hours, or even days, before you feel pain from the accident. The adrenaline often shuts down the body’s pain responses to help the brain cope with the traumatic incident.
Adrenaline masks the pain. So, while you may not feel pain after a car accident, you should go to the emergency room immediately anyway. Neck and back pain are common complaints after car accidents, but it can take hours or even days to present symptoms. You don’t have hours or days to hours or days to wait to inform your insurance company of the accident or potential injuries..
It is fundamental to your claim that you go to the emergency room as soon as possible after your accident. If your injuries turn out to be more severe in the days and weeks that follow, you will have record of your treatment at the time they occurred. Many insurance companies are rightfully skeptical of injury claims made at a later date.
In personal injury cases, the plaintiff, in this case you, has the burden of proof to show that they were injured as a direct result of the negligent actions of the other driver. This trail of evidence starts with you and your trip to the emergency room after the accident.
But remember, you are probably still on a spiked adrenaline high with the stress of the accident, so it’s best not to make decisions that can affect you later. The best thing to do after your emergency room visit is to consult with your attorney to see how to proceed.
Here is everything you need to know to help you navigate the maze of the aftermath of a car accident, starting with your trip to the emergency room.
The Emergency Room is Your Friend After an Accident
No one likes to go to the emergency room. The wait is long. The chairs are uncomfortable. You don’t know the doctors. But after a car accident, it’s the best place that you can be. The medical professionals who will treat you will be able to diagnose your injuries and point you to the next step in your recovery.
You don’t have to take a trip in the ambulance unless your injuries are severe but you must find a way there as soon as possible.
Keep these 7 important tips in mind if you should find yourself in the emergency room after a motor vehicle collision.
- A long wait isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, hospital emergency rooms are known for their long wait times. You may even get to the back quickly but then have to wait hours for a doctor to come check you out.
Remember that in an emergency room, they will send the doctors to the most urgent patients first. So, even if your injury is painful, the fact that you are not being treated right away means that it is not likely life-threatening. Other patients with more crucial concerns are being treated first and you will be seen eventually.
Meanwhile, you can play Solitaire on your phone or catch up on those movie classics that seem to be always playing on hospital TVs.
- When you are discharged, follow the hospital’s orders. Not every emergency room visit will result in an admission for treatment. The doctors are there to ensure that your condition is stable, possibly prescribe you medication as needed, and then send you on your way.
When they do this, though, they will likely make follow up recommendations for you. Whatever these recommendations are, it is important that you listen and follow through on your end. It is typical for those who have been in car accidents to be referred to their primary care physician or a chiropractor after they leave the ER.
Failure to follow-through with these recommendations can hurt you down the road if you decide to pursue a case for your car accident. The attorneys at Hershey Law can fight for your case, but the one thing we can’t do is seek treatment for you and force you to go to your doctors’ visits.
- Never deal with your insurance company while you are in the ER. This goes back to the adrenaline and stress reminder. Chances are, you are not operating at full speed yet. It’s important to avoid making any critical decisions or have any communication with anyone that does not have your best interests in mind.
You will have to speak to your insurance company’s adjuster soon enough, especially since there are timely reporting rules that have to be followed. But the excuse of having just spent hours in the hospital emergency room is a reasonable one, so go ahead and use it.
When you are discharged, you will know more about your condition. They may prescribe you pain medication, too. Wait until you are able to make a coherent, well-thought-out phone call to your insurance company. If you must call them, let them know you are in the hospital or on pain medication and you will call them back when you are able to talk to them without distractions.
Note that when you do call them back, don’t give them more than the bare minimum of details. Insurance adjusters are not on your side, no matter how friendly they seem. Their goal is to increase the company’s bottom line, not yours, and anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law – but by the insurer.
- Expect a big bill. Upon entering the hospital, you’ll probably be bombarded with paperwork to complete. It’s a common occurrence that makes no sense – have people who are in severe pain spend hours completing redundant paperwork. But it’s necessary.
When it comes to the insurance portion, you’ll need to provide your car insurance and any available personal coverage that you may have. Let the insurance companies and your attorney duke out who is responsible for paying your bills as long as someone pays them besides you.
When you get the bills in the mail, though, don’t be surprised to see a really high total. For many hospitals, car accidents are their bread and butter. Whatever the insurance doesn’t pay can be put on what is called a “hospital lien,” which means that when the injured party settles their lawsuit, the hospital’s bill will be paid then.
But this final payment is usually at a loss, such as a 25% reduction, depending on the settlement, so padding the bill with high charges up front is a way for the hospital to cushion themselves for this expected reduction.
- Tell your nurse everything you feel. Later on in your case, both parties of the lawsuit will be scouring your medical records for something they can use to help them win. After an accident, the nurse will be questioning you about your injuries and writing down everything that you say.
Don’t wait for the doctor to come in before you start responding truthfully. It’s common for many sick or injured people to discount the importance of the nurse and prefer not to have to repeat their symptoms for the nurse and the doctor. But if you tell the nurse one thing and the doctor another, it will be a discrepancy that the defendant’s lawyer pounces on to discredit you.
- Be thorough. Of course you want the doctor’s main attention to be on the areas where you hurt the most, but don’t neglect to tell them about all of the little things, too. In many cases, those little annoyances have proven to be constant, chronic injuries that are life-changing.
However, if you never brought it up to the emergency room physician after your accident or your medical doctor on your follow-up, the insurance company is going to see that as a reason to dispute your medical claims for that particular injury.
- Bring your discharge paperwork to your attorney. Keep all of your documentation in a safe place, including police reports, evidence, photographs, and your hospital discharge paperwork. When you are feeling up to it, take everything that you have to a reputable car accident attorney and let them focus on getting your bills paid for you.
First the Emergency Room, and Then Your Lawyer’s Office
The attorneys at Hershey Law are knowledgeable in all personal injury fields and care about you as a person, making them a highly sought after firm that services the State of California.
Your road to recovery after your car accident is going to be stressful enough. Don’t try to go it alone. Schedule a free consultation with Hershey Law to find out how we can help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.