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What to Expect at Your First Appointment After a Car Accident

May 10, 2021

What to Expect at Your First Appointment After a Car AccidentThroughout the year, most people have a number of routine doctor appointments, from the dentist to the primary care doctor. It’s easy to know what to expect at preventative appointments that you have had in the past. But it can be harder to know what to do after a car accident and what to expect when you seek care. You may not know what kinds of injuries you have or what treatment to expect, and you may even be worried about how it will work with your insurance company. If you’re nervous about what may happen when you visit a car accident specialist, this guide can help you prepare for the visit and know what to do after a car accident.

Review Your Accident

The first thing a doctor will want to talk about is the events of your accident. Because these doctors specialize in accident victims, they may want to know a lot of specifics about the event that you wouldn’t expect to tell a doctor. Everything from the speed you were moving, whether you were driving or a passenger, and the location of the collision will be important. If you have photos of the vehicles, that may even be helpful for them.

Often, you may visit a doctor before any symptoms of whiplash or any injury have even appeared. The adrenaline that is released during an accident can remain present for days, covering up pain and other symptoms. Without this as a place to start, a doctor can use information about your accident to decide what you’re at risk for and where to start the diagnostic process.

Medical History

In addition to the accident, a doctor will want to know about your own medical history. Past injuries can be easily exacerbated by an accident, so any physical conditions will be important for them to understand. This may also change what treatment is recommended for you as you may need to avoid certain techniques.

Age, physical activity, and other medical information can also be risk factors for certain car accident injuries and will need to be reported to insurance, so doctors will need to know.

Physical Examinations and Imaging

Doctors will usually start with simple, manual physical examinations. They may feel for bumps, swelling, or misalignments in certain areas of the body that are prone to injury. A physical examination may also include simple tests of your balance, reflexes, or cognitive ability. Many common injuries can be diagnosed from these tests alone, however, in some cases, you will be sent for diagnostic imaging.

X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are commonly used by car accident doctors to rule out life-threatening and severe injuries as well as to get more specific images of the body. These will not always be necessary, but don’t be alarmed if you are told these scans are part of your process.

Comprehensive Treatment Plans

One of the most important things you should understand after your first appointment is what your treatment plan and prognosis look like. This will differ widely based on what diagnosis you are given and how severe it is. Treatment plans may include physical therapy, chiropractic care, medication or pain management, or a range of other techniques.

While a doctor can’t guarantee a timeline for recovery, they should be able to give you some sense of what your healing will look like. This can serve as a guideline to work against as you check in throughout recovery. They may also be able to help you determine how much time you need off work or away from other activities.

Insurance Claims and Billing

Insurance for regular medical care is confusing enough, but extra layers are added after a car accident. Both your insurance company and the other drivers may be involved and extensive documentation may be needed. Some of the information gathered early in your appointment is specifically recorded for the insurance company.

One benefit of a car accident specialist is that they know what will be required by these companies and how to thoroughly and accurately report on your injuries. They will include information like past injuries, accident risk factors, and imaging upfront to help with your claim.

Visit a Specialist

While knowing what to do after a car accident can still be overwhelming, visiting a doctor who specializes in these situations can ease some of your nerves. The doctors at AICA Orthopedics will walk you through the process and develop a treatment plan specifically for you based on the information you share. If you have any questions about what else to expect, you can ask them when you schedule your first visit at AICA Orthopedics!


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