Get Necessary Medical Care After Your Car Accident

Your health comes first. Here's how to protect it after a car accident.

If you are seriously injured in  a car accident,  emergency services  will probably come to the scene and take you to the closest hospital, where you will  receive all the  medical care you need. But what about less serious accidents, where there is no immediate pain or noticeable discomfort? Many times, people involved in car accidents don't even know they have been injured. One reason for this is that your body responds to pain signals and the stress of your accident by producing morphine-like hormones called endorphins. Endorphins (and adrenaline) mask the pain until your body and mind have had time to recover from the stress of the accident.

In this article, we'll explain why it's important to get proper medical care after a car accident  -- obviously for your health, but also for any  injury claim you might make at some point down the line. (Learn more about What to Do After a Car Accident.)    

Whenever You Have Symptoms, See Your Doctor

A lot of personal injury attorneys have stories about clients coming into their offices saying they felt no pain at the scene of their accident, or later the same day. But the following morning they woke up feeling like they had been run over by a truck. These stories are credible --  they're not  examples of healthy people looking for a payout via a lawsuit.  It can take several hours, several  days or even a week for injuries or serious discomfort to register  with a  car accident victim.  (Learn more about  Common Car Accident Injuries.)

So, the lesson is this: whenever you feel symptoms of injury after a car accident  -- pain, numbness, dizziness, not feeling like yourself, whatever it is  -- get medical care!   Don't assume that your injuries will clear up on their own. Do the safe thing and get checked out. (Click here to learn more about why it's crucial to get necessary medical care after a car accident.)

Continue Treatment Until You Are  Released

After a car accident, if your doctor diagnoses an injury and begins treatment, continue the course of treatment until your doctor releases you from it.  

There are  two main  reasons why it is important  that you follow through with  your treatment. The obvious reason is that your doctor is in the best position to determine how seriously you are injured, and to prescribe  the best treatment for you -- to help you recover more quickly, and to  make you as  comfortable as possible  while you are recovering. The second reason: your doctor's records of your visits are the best way to document and  verify the nature and  extent of your injuries, as well as the course and duration of your treatment. This verification is essential if you later make a car accident injury claim.

Review Your Doctor's Treatment Records

If you're being treated for injuries stemming from a car accident, ask your doctor for copies of your medical records. Read them over  carefully, and  have your doctor correct any errors that you find.  

When you review your records, pay attention to the description of your car accident. This is usually part of the first entry in the records. Did the doctor get it right when describing the accident, or did he misunderstand the facts? Does the report say that your car was struck on the right, when actually  the impact was  on the left? Does it say that you were going 45 when you were really going 25, as it says in  the police report that was prepared after the accident?

Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers who are on the other driver's side  will use any inconsistencies like these to try to prove that the accident didn't happen the way you say it did.  

Also make sure that the medical records accurately state your symptoms.

Finally, check to make sure that your doctor got your medical history right. If your doctor has written that you have a history of neck problems like the one she is treating, but you've never had any neck problems in the past, you need to  have that information corrected. If you make an injury claim, the defense always looks at your medical history to find something  (such as a pre-existing condition)  that they can point  to  as the "real" cause of your current symptoms. So, make sure that your medical history is accurate, especially when it comes to pre-existing conditions.

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