Many of the calls I receive are from people that have just recently been in car accidents. Usually, the first advice they ask for is “should I go to the hospital after a car accident?” Like any good lawyer, my answer is usually “it depends.”
There are a lot of factors that go into this decision. Based on the laws in Florida, I tell anyone that has recently been in an accident to seek medical treatment. The sort of medical provider you first see, however, is entirely situation dependent. The most important thing though, is that they seek medical attention.
The Case for Going to the Hospital After a Car Accident (“the Pro’s”)
Previously in this blog, I’ve discussed some of the in’s and out’s of Florida’s Personal Injury Protection laws and insurance coverage. The same issues play an important role in determining what type of medical professional a person is best off seeing.
If you seek medical care in the emergency room, rest assured that you will most likely receive high quality care. Hospitals in Florida have a great deal of experience treating car accident victims. This has made them quite proficient at rendering care in those situations.
Quality of the care provided is the largest “pro” in favor of going to the hospital after a car accident. Hospital staff will recognize life threatening injuries. Especially certain types of traumatic brain injury which can often go unnoticed by the untrained eye.
Further, by going to the hospital an accident, you often eliminate one of insurance companies’ favorite arguments. Insurance Companies love to argue that because you didn’t go to the hospital following a crash, you must not be that hurt.
Insurance companies will use a delay in treatment against claimants. Going to the hospital immediately following (or even the next day) a crash eliminates this argument entirely.
Also, going to the hospital after a car accident creates an initial medical record of your injuries and complaints. Personal injury attorneys use your medical records and medical bills to tell the story of your case to the adjuster. The more records that we have that tell a congruent story, the stronger our case becomes.
And a story about car accident injuries is made all the more compelling when it includes a visit to the hospital emergency room.
Why not go to the Hospital After a Car Accident? (the “Con’s”)
After reading the “pro’s,” it seems simple: go to the hospital after an accident. While you can’t go wrong going to the emergency room, there are some downsides to the care they render.
Florida hospitals are expensive. Every personal injury lawyer has had a case with an incredibly large hospital bill and a very small settlement amount. Hospitals often bill tens of thousands of dollars for the services they render. These bills can eat into your Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage and your settlement money very quickly.
One main problem is that when someone hits us in a car accident, we do not know how much insurance they have. Luckily, we have PIP coverage to help protect us. We’re still covered in the event there is very little or no insurance coverage from the other driver. However, this also means that in those situations where the person that hit us has a small insurance policy, the amount our clients receive from their settlements will be reduced.
While hospitals render the highest level of care, the doctors and nurses working at hospitals are typically on the lookout for major traumatic injuries. Often, when faced with a typical sprain or strain type injury to the neck or back, they will prescribe some medications and tell you to expect to be sore for a while before sending you on your way.
Hospitals can be the Best Place to go After a Car Accident
This advice ignores some of the therapies that exist for people suffering those types of injuries. It isn’t hospital staff’s fault these sorts of cases don’t receive the attention we would like them to. Those doctors and nurses are dealing with massive injuries and trauma constantly (not to mention the ongoing pandemic).
This is why when faced with the question of whether a client of mine that has recently been in a car crash should go to the hospital, my answer is “it depends.”
If you are feeling intense pain or have suffered a blow to the head, you should go to the hospital. Go to the hospital if you are feeling weakness or tingling in your extremities. You should go to the hospital if it will ease your mind.
But if you were in a relatively minor accident, and you are simply feeling some soreness and discomfort, and you haven’t suffered any sort of head trauma, then you could be well served by going to an urgent care or getting in to see your primary care physician or a chiropractor the next day.
Call Knapp Accident & Injury Law
From the moment my phone rings about a client’s case, I am thinking of the best ways to serve them. It is my job as a car accident lawyer. Trust that if you or someone you know was involved in a car accident and needs advice on how to proceed, Knapp Accident & Injury Law will be there to guide them.
If you have recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident and wish to discuss it further, please call (813) 568-3724.