I preface this article with the statement that I am not a medical doctor. But, after handling countless car accident injury cases, I can provide guidance from a legal perspective about what insurance companies and juries expect people to do with their medical treatment. If you want to get better and still maximize the value of your car accident claim, please read the following suggestions.
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we have handled every type of car accident injury claim in St. Petersburg, throughout Pinellas County, and the Tampa Bay area. No two car accident injuries are the same, but we do see common themes. This article will go through some of the types of injuries that we see and provide some treatment suggestions.
When Should You First Get Treatment After a Car Accident?
The answer to this question is the same regardless of the injury-as soon as possible. Not only is getting immediate medical treatment in your best interest from a health perspective, insurance companies factor in when you first sought treatment into their value calculations. Likewise, where you go for your first treatment matters. If you go to the hospital the day of the accident (regardless whether you were taken by an ambulance), you will be given more value. If you go to an Urgent Care the day of the accident, that also ranks high in value. If you go see a chiropractor the next day, that is fine, but carries much less value. And, if you wait days to seek any type of treatment, your claim will be diminished. There is no such thing as getting treatment within 14 days in the eyes of the insurance company. Simply put, the insurance companies know that juries expect you to get medical treatment immediately or you couldn’t have been injured that badly. If you are waiting up to 14 days after an accident to get treatment, alarms will sound. Sadly, that is the reality of our car accident claim system.
Should I See My Primary Care Doctor After the Car Accident?
No. Don’t waste your time. I have clients that make this mistake over and over and it really hurts their treatment and their case. The truth is that family practitioners and primary care doctors are not good at treating injuries from car accidents. They don’t specialize in the field and often simply give you an x-ray, maybe a prescription for a muscle relaxer and then send you on your way. Not only is this type of treatment useless at uncovering the true extent of the injury, but it kills the value of your claim. Additionally, these types of doctors are terrible about preparing reports that the insurance companies rely on to value your case.
But, perhaps the biggest problem with trying to see your primary care doctor after a car accident is that they usually won’t even see you. Almost all primary care doctors are not set up to bill insurance companies and do not want to testify in court. Many of my clients call their doctor, set up an appointment for days later, only to show up and be turned away. By that point, days or even weeks may have passed since the accident and there is now a huge gap in treatment. These are unforced errors and can be easily avoided by simply calling a car accident attorney immediately.
What Kind of Doctor Should I Go to After the Accident?
I always recommend seeing a specialist in car accident cases as soon as possible. I prefer that my clients see a medical doctor first, not a chiropractor. Obviously, this depends on timing because it is most important that you are seen immediately and most medical doctors cannot get you an appointment on the same day that you first call.
The advantage of seeing a medical doctor is that they carry the credentials and reputation that insurance companies and juries respect. These doctors will also have a large network of providers that are set up to treat whatever specific injuries you may have. For example, if you have a concussion or other brain injury, they will be able to send you to a neurologist who is familiar with car accident injuries. If you need a surgical procedure, they will know the spinal surgeons or neurosurgeons to refer you to. Basically, these specialists will serve as the quarterback of your treatment. In other words, they will orchestrate who you will need to see and how often you should go. Having one person in charge of your treatment is a huge advantage for your case and will keep the claim streamlined.
How Long Will I Have to Get Treatment After a Car Accident?
This question is difficult to answer because it depends on the severity of the injury. In most cases, only conservative treatment is needed. That means that you will meet with a specialist, get an MRI and do either physical therapy or chiropractic case. If you fall into this category, then you should not need to treat for longer than 6 months.
If you need pain management like an injection or a radio frequency ablation (RFA), your treatment will likely be extended for several months. Again, the goal would be not to treat for longer than a year, however. Finally, if you need surgery, your treatment will be delayed due to the recovery time required. Some of this is common sense, but as a general rule, having long delays or gaps in treatment only hurts the value of your case. I advise my clients that if they are going to have a more invasive procedure, to go ahead and get it over with because waiting around to see if you feel better simply doesn’t work.
Contact a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in representing people who have been injured in car accidents. The roads in the area are congested and full of tourists and elderly drivers. Our firm has been in existence for over 60 years and we have seen every type of car accident injury claim over that time frame. We understand how serious these accidents can be and take the time to make sure that you and your family are well taken care of. If you are looking for a local law firm that has a premier reputation in the community, then please contact us for a free consultation.