Medical Treatment After an Accident
Fender-bender or major crash—if you're in a car accident, here are some guidelines for medical treatment.
Immediately After the Accident
- If an ambulance arrives, allow emergency personnel to check for pain and certain injuries, even if you think you're okay. Refusing treatment at the scene may be taken as evidence that the accident is not to blame for your pain.
- If you are taken to the hospital, tell the treating physician whatever details you can about the accident. Describe in detail all pain and discomfort, as well as your ability or inability to use injured area(s). Even minor physical problems should be mentioned; they may develop into serious injuries.
- If no ambulance arrives and/or you aren't transported to the hospital, go to the emergency room and/or your doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation. Describe in detail all pain and discomfort, as well as your ability or inability to use injured area(s). Even minor physical problems should be mentioned; they may develop into serious injuries.
WHN Tip: Take photographs of your injuries to help your claim and your case. Note: some bruises may not show up until several days afterward.
- If the police are called to the scene, Request a copy of the official police report for your medical records. (See What To Do if You're in a Car Accident for more information.)
Contact Your Car Insurance Agent
- Ask your car insurance provider how to submit these medical claims. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company may reimburse yours.
- Provide information on claims submission to all doctors treating you for the accident-related injury.
Keep an Injury Diary
Keeping an injury diary might be useful for insurance and legal purposes - ask your insurance agent or lawyer for further advice on how to keep an accurate account of your recovery.
WHN Reader Tip: Write EVERYTHING Down
"One lesson is to keep a diary after the accident. You should be documenting everything that you are going through day by day. I included everything - how I was feeling, doctor visit notes, time taken off from work." Kim L., Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Your diary should include
- Information and description of your injuries.
- A pain scale (with 0 being no pain and 10 being excruciating pain). Rate your injuries on a daily/hourly basis.
- How your injuries affect your daily routine: your ability to work (job performance), attend/participate in social and family events, household duties, sleep and eating patterns.
- Consider taking photographs of your injuries. Photos can help your claim and your case.
- Request a copy of the official police report for your medical records.
WHN Tip: Date every entry you make. If you make several entries in a day, include the time of the entry.
WHN Tip: Make an Injury Sub-Folder
Have your doctor and any other medical professional treating you for accident-related injuries to start a personal injury sub-folder for you. Review it for accuracy.
At each visit, bring your accident file, injury diary and Medical Appointment Tracking Form [WHN hot link TK] to track each appointment and your progress. Complete the form and add it to your accident file.
If appropriate, ask your doctor to write a letter to your insurance company explaining the findings of your examination and prescribing further care.
WHN Tip: No Skipping Appointments
Don't skip treatments or other medical appointments. This could be used as proof that you weren't really injured. If you are tired or in pain, it's okay to ask for help getting to your appointment.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. These tips are from doctors, nurses and people who have shared advice. Always check with a doctor, pharmacist or other appropriate medical professional you trust before making any healthcare changes.
Thank you ...
A special thank you to the industry professionals, doctors, nurses, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.
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