Yes, you should see a doctor after the accident, even if it was minor and you feel fine.
One of the biggest reasons for this is what’s known as a latent injury. In the moments during and after an accident, adrenaline and fight-or-flight instincts are so strong that even visible injuries may go unnoticed for hours. With latent injuries, symptoms appear later, days or even weeks after the crash itself.
You may think it is excessive, but you should absolutely visit your doctor as soon as possible after the crash. For legal reasons, you should try to be seen within 72 hours of the accident. If you wait too long to go to the doctor but decide to press charges later, the other party’s insurance company or legal team can easily argue that your injuries must not have been so bad.
Keep reading to learn what kind of doctor to see after an accident and what to say to them when you get there. If you have any other questions about going to the doctor and the ins and outs of personal injury lawsuits, please call our Athens car accident lawyers at (706) 995-7547.
The severity of your injuries will inform both the kind of treatment you’ll receive and the type of doctor who will administer it. Technically, after an accident you could just get an appointment with the first doctor you think of, but they’ll likely end up referring you to a specialist or suggesting that you go to the emergency room instead.
Visiting the right doctor will save you time and frustration. Depending on your specific situation, you could see a(n):
If your injuries are severe or life-threatening, go to the ER as soon as possible. Often, victims of car accidents will be transported to the ER from the scene, especially if the crash occurred late at night or if your injuries worsen quickly.
If you don’t have life-threatening injuries but want to be seen right away, urgent care may be your best option. Urgent care clinics usually have longer operating hours than a primary care physician’s office, and you can be seen without an appointment.
If you don’t have life-threatening injuries and can wait a couple of days to set an appointment, you can go see your primary care physician for treatment. They’ll recommend treatments based on your personal medical history for the best result.
However, it’s important to understand that some primary care physicians will not see car accident victims because their office is either not set up to bill auto insurance carriers, or they are uncomfortable or unwilling to testify in court on behalf of the injured person.
Your PCP may see you, but it’s best to tell them you’re seeking treatment for car accident injuries first. They should be upfront and communicate that they don’t provide initial treatment to car accident victims.
Your ER physician, urgent care doctor, or primary care physician may refer you to a specialist for treatment or testing.
In these situations, it’s usually because your doctor believes you have specific injuries that they don’t have the experience to treat, or they may know a physician who has specialized in that specific treatment for decades and has a high success rate.
Seeing a specialist can greatly improve your treatment timeline, but make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and contact the specialist as soon as you can. Prompt treatment is the key to recovery.
The physics at play in a car accident can have strange effects on your body. Often, injuries take days or even weeks to appear, so it’s important that you discuss the specifics of the accident with your doctor.
For instance, instead of just saying “My neck has been bothering me,” you could explain that you were sitting at a red light when a car hit you from behind and caused your head to snap forward.
Those details will give your doctor ample context to determine exactly which injuries and complications you may be suffering from. You should also communicate your entire health history, including any past surgeries or medical devices. Even a surgery that you had 10 years ago will affect your healing and treatment process now. Tell your doctor if you take any medications, and give them a full list if you do.