Should You Go to the Hospital after a Car Accident?                                                       

Aug 24, 2023

Should You Go to the Hospital after a Car Accident

Should I go to the hospital after a car accident? It depends. 

In cases of severe injuries that could be life-threatening—such as significant head, spinal, or internal injuries, severe fractures, or deep lacerations—it’s imperative to go to the hospital immediately. Emergency rooms are equipped to handle such emergencies, offering immediate and extensive care. 

On the other hand, for injuries that demand prompt attention but are not life-threatening, such as minor fractures, cuts, or bruises, an urgent care facility can be a more suitable choice. These facilities provide efficient treatment for non-emergency conditions, often with shorter wait times and lower costs than hospital ERs. Understanding the best place to seek care after a car accident can ensure you get the right treatment while also considering the practical aspects of care such as cost and time.

Signs You Should Go to the Hospital After a Car Accident

Understanding the signs that indicate a hospital visit is necessary after a car accident can be life-saving. Such signs include severe pain, visible fractures, significant head injuries, symptoms of internal bleeding, difficulty breathing, and any condition that feels life-threatening. Recognizing these signs and acting swiftly can be crucial for your health and well-being.

Car Accident Injuries that Require Emergency Care

Sometimes a car accident can result in injuries that require emergency care. Some car accident injuries that could be potentially life-threatening and require immediate medical attention after a car accident include:

  • Severe head or brain injuries: These include loss of consciousness, confusion, severe headache, seizures, vomiting, or any other signs of traumatic brain injury.
  • Spinal cord injuries: If there is neck or back pain, weakness, numbness, or paralysis in any part of the body, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention to assess for a potential spinal cord injury.
  • Internal bleeding: This can occur in various parts of the body and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bruising, dizziness, fainting, or blood in urine or stool.
  • Chest injuries: Severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, rapid or shallow breathing, or any signs of rib fractures may require urgent evaluation, as they could indicate internal injuries to the chest or major organs.
  • Abdominal injuries: Severe abdominal pain, swelling, tenderness, or bruising may suggest injuries to the internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys, which require immediate medical attention.
  • Severe Fractures and dislocations: Compound fractures where the bone is visible or fractures involving vital areas like the skull or spine require emergency care.
  • Deep lacerations and severe bleeding: If a wound is deep, bleeding heavily, or cannot be controlled with direct pressure, it may require immediate medical intervention to prevent excessive blood loss and the risk of infection.

These are examples of life-threatening injuries, though the list is not exhaustive, and the severity of injuries can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. It is always advisable to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you are uncertain about the severity of your injuries or if you experience any concerning symptoms.

Why Not Go to the Hospital?

While seeking medical attention after a car accident is generally recommended, there might be situations where individuals choose not to go to the emergency room. Here are some reasons why someone might skip going to the ER after a car accident:

  • Non life-threatening injuries: For injuries that are not life-threatening, it can be less costly and more practical to seek care elsewhere. For example, an accident injury specialist like AICA Orthopedics, urgent care facility, or a primary care physician may be better alternatives, depending on the severity of the injuries.
  • Long wait times: Emergency rooms can be busy, especially during peak hours. If the injuries are not life-threatening and individuals are in stable condition, they might choose to avoid the long wait times by seeking care elsewhere.
  • No long-term treatment offered: If the injuries sustained in the car accident require long-term treatment and care, individuals may choose to forgo the ER and instead opt for follow-up care with a car accident doctor who specializes in these types of injuries and treatment plans.
  • Financial considerations: Emergency room visits can be expensive, and individuals who are concerned about the cost may decide to seek less expensive alternatives for non-life-threatening injuries, such as visiting an urgent care center or scheduling an appointment with a car accident specialist.
  • Concerns about exposure to illness: Particularly during times of disease outbreaks or pandemics, individuals may have concerns about going to the ER due to the potential risk of exposure to contagious illnesses. In such cases, they may choose alternative healthcare options.

Costs Associated with Going to the Hospital

Going to the emergency room for a minor injury after a car accident can indeed result in significant costs. Here are some factors that can contribute to the expenses:

  • Ambulance services: If emergency medical services are called to the scene of the accident and transport you to the hospital, there may be charges associated with ambulance services. These charges can vary depending on factors like distance, location, and the level of care provided.
  • Emergency room fees: Emergency room visits often involve facility fees, which cover the overhead costs of the ER. These fees can be substantial and may also vary depending on the hospital and region.
  • Diagnostic tests and imaging: When you visit the ER, healthcare providers may order diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to assess your condition. These tests can be expensive, and the costs will depend on the specific tests performed.
  • Medications and treatments: If you require medications, treatments, or minor procedures in the ER, there will be additional costs. The prices of medications may be higher than expected, and more specialized treatments or procedures can increase the overall expense.
  • Specialist consultations: Depending on the nature of your injuries, it may be recommended that you consult with specialists during your ER visit. These consultations can result in separate charges from the specialists involved.

If you have concerns about the potential costs associated with an ER visit for a minor injury, you might consider alternative options like visiting an urgent care center or scheduling an appointment with a car accident clinic with doctors who specialize in these types of injuries. These options can often be more cost-effective for non-life-threatening injuries or conditions.

Who Pays for Hospital Bills after a Car Accident

Ultimately, the patient is responsible for hospital bills after a car accident, but various sources such as at-fault insurance, the patient’s auto insurance, and health insurance may help cover some of the costs.

At-Fault Insurance Company

If another party is determined to be at fault for the car accident, their insurance company may be responsible for covering the medical expenses resulting from the accident. This is typically handled through the liability coverage of the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. The injured party (the patient) or their healthcare provider can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to seek reimbursement for medical expenses.

Patient’s Auto Insurance

Depending on the insurance coverage, a patient’s own auto insurance policy may also provide some benefits that can help with medical expenses through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage. These coverages may help cover medical bills, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The patient can file a claim with their own auto insurance company to utilize these benefits.

Health Insurance

A patient’s health insurance coverage can also play a significant role in covering medical expenses after a car accident. Health insurance policies may provide coverage for medical treatments and hospitalizations after a car accident, depending on the specific terms of their policy. The patient or their healthcare provider can submit the medical bills to the health insurance company for reimbursement or payment.

The specific coverage and benefits provided by auto and health insurance policies can vary widely depending on the insurance company, policy terms, and individual circumstances. Deductibles, co-pays, and coverage limits may also apply, which could still leave the patient responsible for some portion of the medical bills. It is advisable for the patient to review their insurance policies and contact their insurance providers to understand the extent of coverage and any necessary procedures for filing claims. Additionally, working with an experienced attorney can be helpful in navigating the insurance process after a car accident.

How Going to the Hospital May Impact an Injury Claim

Seeking medical attention after a car accident is crucial for both your health and for a potential injury claim. However, it’s important to note that medical attention doesn’t necessarily have to be sought at a hospital. Car accident clinics like AICA Orthopedics are equipped to diagnose and document your injuries. It is also worth considering that additional medical visits will result in more bills, which can impact the total amount of compensation you receive. However, it doesn’t have a direct negative or positive impact on your claim. The downside is that it can reduce the amount of money you’ll ultimately receive. Unless the injuries are life-threatening, there are no significant benefits for a patient to be seen in the emergency room. Instead, consider a car accident clinic as an alternative and get started right away with a comprehensive plan of care.

What Injuries Are Not Worth a Hospital Visit? 

When it comes to car accident injuries, the decision of whether to seek hospital care depends on the severity of the injuries sustained. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Scrapes and Bruises: If the injuries are minor, such as small scrapes, bruises, or superficial cuts, they can often be treated with basic first aid at home. In these cases, you may not need to go to the hospital.
  • Low-Impact Injuries: For low-impact collisions that result in minimal or no physical symptoms, it may not be necessary to go to the hospital. However, it’s essential to monitor for any delayed onset of symptoms.
  • Mild Whiplash: Whiplash is a common car accident injury, but if the symptoms are mild and manageable, you may not need to visit the hospital. Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications can help in such cases.
  • Mild Muscle Strains: If you experience minor muscle strains without significant pain or limitation in movement, you may be able to treat them at home with rest and gentle stretching.
  • Small, Non-Penetrating Wounds: Small cuts or abrasions that do not require stitches or medical intervention can often be managed with proper cleaning and bandaging at home.

Should You Call For or Go in an Ambulance?

You should call for an ambulance if you or someone else experiences any of the following after a car accident:

  • Loss of consciousness or confusion
  • Severe bleeding that is difficult to control
  • Suspected broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • Signs of a head injury, such as loss of memory or persistent headaches
  • Severe neck or back pain with potential spinal injury
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities

If you are unsure about the severity of the injuries but feel significant pain or discomfort, it is safer to go in an ambulance for immediate evaluation by medical professionals.

What If You Didn’t Go to the Hospital?

If you decide not to go to the hospital immediately after a car accident, it is essential to pay close attention to any signs of injury or symptoms that may develop over the next few hours or days. Some injuries, like whiplash or soft tissue injuries, may not show symptoms immediately and could become more apparent later.

If you choose not to go to the hospital but experience any of the following, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly:

  • Increasing pain or swelling
  • Persistent headaches
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Numbness or weakness in any body part
  • Difficulty with movement or range of motion
  • Changes in vision or speech

Ignoring potential injuries or delaying medical evaluation and treatment can lead to complications and prolonged recovery times. If there is any doubt or concern about your well-being after a car accident, it is best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Car Accident Injury Care with AICA Orthopedics

Treatment for Car Accident Injuries It is crucial to seek medical attention promptly after an accident to ensure your injuries are properly documented, whether that be through the hospital or at a car accident clinic. Insurance companies often consider the timeframe in which you sought treatment to validate your claim. In their perspective, if there is no treatment right after the accident, this implies no injuries and may result in lower or no compensation. It’s important to remember that not all injuries are immediately apparent following an accident. Some individuals may take several days to experience the effects of a car accident on their body. Even if there are no visible injuries, such as blood or swelling, it is essential to investigate potential underlying injuries through imaging techniques like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. This thorough evaluation helps ensure that any hidden injuries are properly diagnosed and treated.

AICA Orthopedics offers same-day appointments, diagnosis, and treatment, all in one convenient location. With 13 locations across metro Atlanta, our team of doctors specializes in treating car accident patients. We have all types of doctors under one roof, including orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists. We will help you get your documentation together for an injury claim and provide legal referrals as needed. With AICA Orthopedics, you can expect short wait times and treatment for a variety of car accidents, including whiplash, back pain, neck pain, dislocations, fractures, and more. Find an Atlanta accident injury clinic near you and get started on car accident injury diagnosis and treatment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I go to the hospital after a minor car accident?

Even in minor accidents, it is wise to get evaluated by a professional. While you may not need to rush to the hospital, visiting an urgent care or consulting with car accident doctors can help ensure any hidden injuries are identified early.

How long after a car accident can you go to the hospital?

It’s best to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. However, some injuries may not show symptoms immediately. It’s advisable to get checked within the first 72 hours after the accident to ensure any developing conditions are caught early.

What type of doctor should you see after a car accident?

Seeking a specialist who understands car accident injuries, such as orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, or physical therapists, is advisable. These professionals can provide a comprehensive treatment plan. For more detailed guidance on choosing the right specialist, visit this article.


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