After an accident, you may feel like you don’t need to go to the doctor. You feel a little sore, but nothing major. It isn’t until a couple of days later and the pain has gotten worse that you finally visit a physician. Because of this wait, it might look bad for your claim from your insurance.
Right after you have been in an accident, you’re experiencing an adrenaline rush which is when your body goes into ‘survival mode’ and your body releases the chemicals adrenaline and epinephrine. Those chemicals help your body to increase your blood flow to major organs. The only problem with this release is that it covers any pain you might be feeling from the accident.
Always seek immediate medical attention after an accident. Even if you feel fine, that doesn’t mean you aren’t suffering in some way.
There are plenty of things that are offered at the emergency room:
- Ambulance and helicopter services.
- Same day on-site MRIs, CT scans, and Radiology studies.
- In-facility pharmacies.
- Access to a specialist if needed.
- You can’t be turned away.
- Full-service diagnostic tests and treatments.
If you’re worried about the cost it might be for going to the doctor or even the hospital, you have help. The vehicle insurance that you have can cover up to 80% of your medical bills, up to $10,000 because of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It is even illegal for your insurance company to raise your rate because of a PIP claim.
Each year, there are almost 40 million people who visit the ER for accident-related injuries, but less than 10% involve being admitted to the hospital. Sometimes, it might just be best to go to your primary care physician.
Make sure you go to the emergency room if you are experiencing:
- Sever pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Profuse bleeding.
- Broken bones.
- Head injuries.
- Neck/ back injuries.
- Loss of consciousness.
If you feel any of these symptoms, do NOT drive yourself to the hospital. If an ambulance isn’t something you can get, then have someone you trust drive you to the nearest emergency room.
Seeking medical attention after an accident is a good idea for many reasons:
- If you have a minor injury, it could get worse later.
- Some injuries might not show until later.
- Having medical attention can show that you were worried about your health because of the accident.
- There will be records of any evaluations, diagnosis, or treatments you may have for your insurance claim.
- Getting checked immediately can also stop the insurance company from stating that you received your injury from somewhere else.
- Having medical records can prove that your recorded injuries weren’t there before the accident.
Primary Care Physicians
Make sure to report all your injuries to your doctor. Even if you feel they are minor, mention them anyway. Sometimes other injuries are bad enough to mask the pain of something else, but if you feel anything, even just a slight twinge, mention it to your doctor.
A major thing that needs to be realized is that the initial appointment isn’t the only thing that you should have. If your doctor tells you to set up additional appointments, then do so. Continuous treatment is there for you to get better. Deciding not to go to the other appointments could be damaging if you’re dealing with an insurance claim. This means also getting any test done that is recommended and taking the prescriptions given.
Insurance companies are known to check your appointments as well as keep an eye on you outside of the doctor’s office. Don’t do anything that is counterproductive to your healing process. Insurance companies can just as easily look in on your social webpages to check on you to make sure you’re doing everything correctly.
Sometimes, your doctor will refer you to a specialist. If this happens, they will ask the specialist to give you a consultation to explore the conditions that you may have in that specialist’s field. After visiting with the specialist, that specialist will then send you back to your primary care doctor with any findings and recommendations. Your primary doctor will then decide what to do next.
Orthopedic specialists give you an examination to evaluate what procedure might be best for you to relieve your pain. When going to your appointment, try and be as precise as possible about the pain you are experiencing. Make sure to tell the specialist the type of pain, how often you experience the pain, the severity, and if that pain is causing problems with your daily life.
The evaluation covers a complete medical history, including underlying conditions. Make sure to mention all the medications you take as well. There could also be a few physical tests as well as imaging tests. The physical tests will check your flexibility, range of motion (ROM), and your reflexes. They will also check the areas that are hurt for swelling. The Imaging tests might be X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging tests will show detailed information about your problem areas because of the accident whether it is swelling or displacements. Sometimes, the evaluation might need to be of more than just your problem area.
There are different types of pain management for neck and back pain. Any of these might be recommended after a car crash:
- Epidural corticosteroid (steroid) injection: A shot that has strong-inflammatory medications that is usually done where the bones and discs of the spine surround the nerves.
- Nerve blocks: These are commonly used to take care of pain from the spine as well as any pain that messes with the arms, legs, and neck. This can be used for pain relief or even for total loss of feeling for surgery.
- Radiofrequency ablation: Also known as rhizotomy, this surgery will seek to kill of the nerve in your back or neck that is causing you pain.
Sometimes, no matter if there is a procedure that is done, it just doesn’t work. The last option might be for surgery for your neck or back. You may have gotten a herniated disc which is when the disc between your vertebrae ruptures, causing the fluid to leak and create friction between the bones. There is also the possibility of having spinal compression fractures which is when your spine is compressed and cracked which weakens the bone.
In the times that surgery is needed, here are a few common ones:
- Spinal fusion: Two of your vertebrae are fused together to relieve herniated discs or a spinal fracture.
- Vertebroplasty: An injection in the bone with a cement mixture into the vertebra.
- Kyphoplasty: When a balloon is inserted into a fractured vertebrae and then inflated so bone cement can be injected.
- Discectomy: The removal of a herniated disc.
- Laminotomy or laminectomy: When a portion of the lamina, the covering of the spinal cord, is removed to relieve pressure of the spinal cord.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Attorney to Assist You with Getting Additional Medical Treatments
Most of the time there is an accident, the insurance agencies of the drivers will come to some sort of mutual agreement. Other times, though, one person might want to involve the courts.
It is best not to try and settle your case on your own. Many times, if you settle without an attorney, you might not receive everything due to you.
All it takes in one call, and that call is free. Calling an attorney for help doesn’t mean you have to use them or that you’re going to be charged just for a consultation. Many times, you don’t even have to pay up front fees and if you’re still unsure after making an agreement, the Florida Bar Rules that even after signing, you can still cancel if it is within three days of signing the contract.
If you decide to hire an attorney, make sure that you call them any time you are asked to sign something. Just because an agreement is in front of you doesn’t mean that it’s right for you, so make sure to call your attorney.
Letter of Protection (LoP)
If you’re involved in an accident and you don’t have insurance, many medical providers will give you the ability to make an agreement called a Letter of Protection (LoP). This agreement means that if you recover any money in a settlement that you will pay your provider. This letter is sent by your attorney on your behalf to your medial provider. If the patient doesn’t receive a favorable recovery, then the patient might still have to pay for the services that they received.
The reason that Letters of Protection are used is because of the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) that is provided by car insurance. Without a LoP, a doctor might require upfront payment or even refuse to provide treatment without the assurance that they will be paid.
Third-Party Medical Financing
Third-party medical financing is also known as patient financing. This system allows healthcare providers to receive fast payment while the patient arranges a payment plan through a third party. These types of companies provide easy ways to make payments to these providers. If a patient signs up for this, they are more likely to pay in full because the payment plans are flexible and afford.
If you have been injured in an auto accident and need legal assistance from an attorney to help in Panama City or the surrounding areas, contact The Tabbaa Firm for a consultation.
(Updated Sept 2023)