A major car accident can lead to major injuries, and there’s no question as to whether you need medical attention. However, if you’re in a minor car accident, it might not always be clear that you need a doctor. You don’t want to pay for a $300 ER visit, only to discover there was nothing seriously wrong with you.
Then again, a serious injury can be life-changing, and you want to get the medical attention you need.
“Few experiences will impact your day-to-day life as seriously as an accident that injures you,” says an article from Craig Swapp and Associates, a personal injury firm in Salt Lake City. “The physical pain and possible impact to your health and mobility are jarring enough, but you may also suffer from mental trauma following the incident. And then you must deal with the financial ramifications, as well.”
Many people don’t want to deal with the cost of an emergency room visit after a fender bender, so they ask themselves, “Is it necessary?” Here are a few factors to help you decide.
Whose Fault Was It?
Accidents that are not your fault should not be your responsibility. If you’re injured in a car accident, you often don’t have to worry about the monetary factor of visiting the doctor because the at-fault party is responsible for your medical bills and damages.
Additionally, if somebody else caused the accident, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation. Your visit to a physician immediately following the accident might be imperative to winning your case.
ER, Urgent Care, or Family Medicine?
Many people try to avoid going to the ER because of the cost. The average ER copay with insurance is about $100, and the treatment you receive while there is also very expensive. It’s much more affordable to go to urgent care or better yet, a family medicine clinic.
However, these health clinics aren’t equipped to handle serious injuries. If you go here first, and they can’t help you, they’ll send you to the ER, costing you even more money. The best advice on deciding where to go to is to listen to the paramedics on scene who are trained to handle trauma situations.
“…If a paramedic is asking you if you need to go to the ER, they probably think you don’t need to, but they want to make sure you have that option,” Dr. Troy Madsen, an emergency room physician in Utah, said in an interview with the University of Utah. “Now, there may be exceptions to that. But my experience is a paramedic will call me when they think someone needs to go to the ER and that person refuses, and then we just have to confirm that person’s capable of making their own decisions and they can refuse transport.”
Dr. Madsen also says that if you’re experiencing neck or abdomen pain or have a head injury, it’s best to go straight to the ER. You don’t want to gamble with those types of injuries just because you want to save a few bucks.
Injuries Don’t Always Show Up Immediately
Another factor to consider is that injuries don’t always manifest themselves immediately following a car accident. Headaches, neck or should pain, back pain, abdominal pain, and numbness can all take several hours to manifest.
Pain following a car accident can last up to six weeks before you fully recover. Without proper medical treatment, it can last even longer. Seeking help as soon as your symptoms occur can speed up recovery.
Dr. Madsen says that sometimes the pain is just your body’s reaction to the impact, even if it was a small accident.
“Usually, that pain that hits you the next day is from some of the musculoskeletal pain, maybe not a broken bone, but just being tensed up in that accident,” he says. However, he goes on to say that if you feel pain, stiffness, vomiting, or nausea during the first 24 hours, you should seek medical attention.
Injuries can also show up psychologically. If you hit your head, you may experience a traumatic brain injury that can cause anything from a concussion to significant shift in personality. Many car accident sufferers, even in fender benders, experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious emotional condition that can require years of therapy and medication to recover. Symptoms may not manifest themselves right away.
Based on the risk of symptoms showing up later, many people prefer to go to the ER just to get checked out. If you opt not to immediately following an accident and any adverse symptoms show up later, seek a doctor’s care as soon as possible.
Health Is Always More Important Than Money
In conclusion, remember that your health is always more important than the costs of going to the doctor. When in doubt, it’s best to see a doctor, a move that can prevent potential pain and suffering for the rest of your life.