We often get this question from potential clients who are in pain following a recent car wreck. Only the person injured knows the severity and intensity of the pain they are experiencing and whether or not there is a potentially life-threatening injury that they have experienced. Thus, this is a difficult question for anyone else, even a medical professional, to answer.
There is no legal reason to go to the emergency room immediately following a wreck.
Going to the ER following a wreck is not necessarily going to improve your case and it could make your case harder to resolve, which we will explain further on. However, if you believe you have a potentially life-threatening or life-debilitating injury, such as a broken bone, or a paramedic says you need to go to the hospital, then by all means, go!
On the other hand, if you have pain in your neck or back but can otherwise stand, sit and walk normally, albeit with pain and/or discomfort, then the ER may not be your best medical option.
What Are the Downsides of Going to the ER After a Car Wreck?
For starters, hospital emergency rooms are designed for true medical emergencies. If you are there due to a whiplash injury from a car wreck, you will be placed in the back of the “triage,” meaning you likely will have to wait in a room full of sick people for a long time. When you are seen, you will be given a cursory evaluation and perhaps X-Rays and CT-Scans for which the hospital will charge you a fortune but provide no real therapeutic value.
We have recently seen hospital bills in the $15,000 to $20,000.00 range for a series of diagnostic tests which did not find any acute injury and which would have cost a fraction of that amount at a private office or imaging center.
The law only requires the at-fault party and their insurer to pay the reasonable amount of medical bills from injuries caused by the wreck. So, not surprisingly, some automobile insurers are disputing the reasonableness of the medical treatment and charges of some hospital emergency rooms, particularly if the automobile wreck was relatively low impact.
By the same token, hospitals are often unwilling to take a significant reduction on the bill. Therefore, if your post-wreck medical expenses primarily consists of big hospital bills, it may take a very long time to get your case resolved and most, if not all, of the money recovered in a settlement, may go to the hospital.
Who Can You Go to if Not the Emergency Room?
There are much better options to diagnose, evaluate and treat serious, but not catastrophic, neck, back, shoulder, and knee injuries following car wrecks, including:
- Non-surgical orthopedic doctors
- Physical therapists
- And more
Why Call a Personal Injury Attorney Right After Your Auto Accident?
A good personal injury lawyer should be able to recommend several different options from which to choose even if you do not have private health insurance. Good doctors who are used to treating people injured in car accidents are set up to see patients in a timely manner, evaluate their injuries, and recommend a treatment path designed to get you better! This is in stark contrast to emergency rooms which are often designed to triage the life-threatening from the non-life threatening, sending the latter on their way with nothing but a big bill and very little value in the form of treatment.
Call our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at 404-LAWYER1 if you have been in a car accident. We can help you find the right medical care you need, no matter how minimal or extreme your level of pain and injuries might be.