Should I Go to the ER After a Car Accident?

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

April 22, 2023

Paying for Medical Treatment AFter a Car Accident

Many individuals forgo medical treatment right after an accident, only to discover later that they have significant injuries. When you’re in a car accident, you should always let the emergency medical professionals examine you, but bear in mind that since they don’t have all of the diagnostic equipment on hand, first responders are limited in what they can assess.

You should have a comprehensive evaluation at the emergency department to establish if you have certain injuries, such as internal injuries that may not present for hours or days. Even walk-in clinics and urgent care clinics are limited in seeing and treating accident victims.


You might jeopardize your financial future and health if you wait to see whether you were injured in a car accident. In terms of medicine, if you delay, you can miss something that might injure your health later. Financially, the insurance company may attempt to reject your claim by saying that you were not injured since you did not seek medical help straight away.

You don’t want to give the insurance company a reason to reject your claim or provide you with a low settlement that won’t cover future medical costs, particularly if your injuries result in long-term or permanent disability.

Furthermore, you may be unaware that you have been injured. Following an accident, your adrenaline will likely spike, disguising certain symptoms. In other circumstances, the symptoms of an injury might not appear until hours or days later.

Whether you allow the hospital to examine you, you will learn if you have any concealed injuries.

However, when you go to the emergency department, you must inform the nurses and physicians that you have just been in an car accident and want a thorough examination. They won’t screen for internal injuries, brain traumas, or other ailments that take time to manifest symptoms if they don’t have to.


The following are some examples of injuries that don’t always display symptoms right away:


Strains and sprains of the muscles. Have you ever had a hurting arm and had to think about what you did to cause it to hurt? You may need to go back a day or two to figure out when you may have caused the damage that now causes your arm pain when you move it.

Because of the significance of this sort of damage, doctors classify a mild concussion as a traumatic brain injury. Even if you did not strike your head, you might have a concussion, but it abruptly jerked. You may not notice the signs and symptoms of a concussion for hours, days, or weeks after that, such as nausea, dizziness, and foggy thinking.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, doctors can check for these and other hidden ailments and begin you on the path to recovery.

Furthermore, some injuries result in problems that manifest years later. For example, the more concussions you have, the more likely you will acquire chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) (CTE).

While this condition does not normally present until middle age, it may not take many years to develop if you are over 40 and have a concussion. It might appear in a matter of months.

Tracking your injuries not only prevents the insurance company from underpaying you but also allows your physicians to detect difficult-to-diagnose conditions caused by accident injuries more quickly.


Even if the other party blames your collision, your health and auto insurance policies will normally cover the emergency room visit.

However, most insurance companies demand that you compensate them after you get compensation for your injury if you reach a settlement or win a trial judgment. If you do not get a settlement or a trial award, the insurance company is typically not required to reimburse you.

You’ll probably get better treatment at a hospital, where physicians have access to all of the tools they need to make an accurate diagnosis.


Visiting the hospital is a vital part of obtaining evidence for your claim. It also enables the defendant’s insurance company to track your medical requirements, making it more difficult for the defendant’s insurance company to refuse a claim. When you have initial medical bills that support injuries that seem small but turn out to be serious, it might be difficult to refute the claim that you did something else that caused the injuries.

For instance, if you are emotionally traumatized by a car accident but only have minor physical injuries, you may develop post-traumatic stress disorder weeks later. If you have an


accident while driving with your kid in the back seat, this may happen. Even if your kid has minor injuries, you will most certainly be concerned about the prospect of serious, life- altering injuries, which may be traumatic for any parent.

Together with a police report, accident images, and other evidence, these medical documents may assist in establishing a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis after an accident.

If you have a minor concussion, but the symptoms persist, and physicians subsequently find that you have experienced more than a moderate concussion, you now have proof that you were injured in the collision. This will come in handy if you decide to take legal action in the future.


Insurance adjusters nowadays utilize software to calculate settlement amounts. They consider your medical bills, missed earnings, the level of your property damage, and other variables. Insurance adjusters will consider the length of time you seek medical care when making their decisions.

The longer you wait to seek medical care, the lower the amount of compensation recommended by the insurance adjuster’s algorithms. Insurance companies will not consider your injuries significant if you do not seek medical treatment right away.

Furthermore, if you see a chiropractor or a practitioner specializing in alternative medicine, the insurance company’s software will give you less money.

You are going to the ER promptly after an accident establishes that you were injured and makes it more difficult for the insurance company to deny your claim.


If you wait too long to seek medical help or go to a clinic that lacks the necessary equipment to adequately examine you, certain injuries may worsen in the days after the accident.

Insurance companies have the right to refuse claims for injuries caused by your failure to seek medical help.

If you had gone to the hospital sooner, physicians might have been able to alleviate your agony and suffering. In addition, insurance companies may be hesitant to pay for accident injuries that worsen over time.

If you go to the hospital and physicians do not discover a concealed injury, an insurance company may find it more difficult to dismiss your claim or reduce the amount of compensation for your losses if you have proof indicating the injury was caused by accident but did not appear until days later.



Even if experts predict your injuries to recover in a few months, medical claims might be complicated. You may have ripped a muscle, which requires surgery followed by physical rehabilitation. Your insurance company may question physical treatment.

In certain situations, you may sustain injuries that physicians predict may result in long-term or permanent disability. Physical treatment, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, and other psychiatric therapies are often required for these ailments.

If an insurance company refuses to pay for the treatment you need, you will require the services of a sophisticated claims attorney. You should choose an attorney who has dealt with these types of complicated injury lawsuits before and who can guarantee that you obtain full compensation for your injuries.


The severity of your injuries in a car accident is determined by several variables, including the size and/or weight of the car that strikes you, the combined speed of the cars, your present health, weather conditions, and even road conditions.

The following are examples of possible injuries:

Cuts, scrapes, scratches, bruises, and bumps are common injuries. Strains and sprains are common injuries.

Muscle pulls, tears, and other soft tissue injuries. Injuries to the face and eyes.

Fractures, both simple and complex. Broken bones

Injuries to the head, neck, and shoulders. Injuries to the back and spinal cord.

Injuries to the internal organs

The amputation of a limb or a finger. Burns caused by chemicals and/or heat. Concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Rashes caused by driving.


You might also get secondary injuries, such as infections from exposed wounds. Suppose a wound from an accident or a surgical wound from healing an accident injury gets infected. In that case, the defendant may be held liable for the additional medical costs as well as pain and suffering.

You may have pre-existing ailments or problems that get worsened due to your accident injuries. Because your accident injuries aggravated your pre-existing ailments, you would incur increased medical expenditures and pain and suffering. These extra damages are likewise the defendant’s responsibility.


Following an accident, you may be able to recover damages in the form of both economic and non-economic losses. Punitive damages are also available. When you settle, you will be aware of your medical costs.

Even so, if your physicians predict that your injuries will result in long-term or permanent disability, the insurance company will make educated assumptions about how much medical care and other economic losses will cost.

After your case settles or you get a trial award, a car accident attorney works with medical specialists to estimate the cost of the medical treatment you will need. Expert witnesses will be doctors and other medical experts with expertise in the sort of injuries you have. These specialists have all seen traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other traumas that result in lasting disability.


Economic damages, often known as special damages, have a monetary worth and include:

Medical costs, including doctor’s visits, operations, follow-up visits, medicines, and ambulatory assistance. You may also collect damages if you need to add wheelchair ramps, grab bars, or make other improvements to your property.

If you need to add hand controls or otherwise alter your car, such as installing a wheelchair lift, you should also factor in the cost of such components.

Wages are the wages you lost from the accident until you reach a settlement or win a trial award. If your injuries result in long-term or permanent disability, you may be able to recoup lost future earning capability.

Personal property includes your car and any personal property in it, such as mobile phones, laptops, dry-cleaning garments, and other personal belongings.


Expenses associated with the end of life, such as funerals, burials, and/or cremations. You may also be able to recover the cost of seeking probate for a loved one’s estate, as well as any expenses related to your grief.


Because you can’t place a monetary figure on someone’s grief, suffering, and losses, general damages, also known as non-economic damages, don’t have a monetary worth.

The following are examples of non-economic damages: Emotional turmoil, as well as pain and suffering.

Loss of quality of life if you have to make living adjustments for the remainder of your life, such as taking medications or utilizing ambulatory assistance.

The inability to utilize a physical part, such as your hand, or a biological function, such as your vision or bladder.

Inconvenience if you have to pay someone to handle your regular activities, such as lawn care, home repair and maintenance, house cleaning, and food shopping.

Amputation of a limb or a finger. Scarring and/or disfigurement in excess.

You will miss out on camaraderie if you cannot spend time with your family or participate in family activities and events.

You’ll lose your consortium if you can’t have a physical connection with your husband.


To make you whole again, the court awards compensatory damages. However, suppose the court awards compensatory damages and determines that the defendant was severely negligent or intentionally negligent. In that case, the court may compel the defendant to pay punitive damages as a penalty for his or her behavior.

If you were injured in a car accident or lost a loved one, call an experienced car accident attorney for a free case review as soon as possible.


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