If you are left with injuries after a car crash, you may not know what steps to take next. You may ask yourself, “What doctor should I see after a car accident?” Taking immediate action after a wreck can help your pain and recovery and your potential personal injury claim. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers discuss doctors that treat car accident injuries and what to do after an accident below.
What Doctor to See After a Car Accident in California?
In the event of a serious car crash, you should call or have someone else call 9-1-1 if you see any visible injuries, such as broken bones, deep wounds, heavy bleeding, or burns. Request a doctor immediately. If emergency responders assess you with critical injuries, they will take you to the emergency room (ER) for prompt medical care.
This list is not exhaustive, but you may also go to the emergency room if you feel any of the following immediate symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Sudden head pain or headache
- Severe pain anywhere on your body
- Loss of feeling in a part of your body
- Loss of movement in a part of your body
- Dizziness or weakness
What Happens if My Doctor Sends Me to a Specialist?
Depending on your injuries, your doctor may refer you to one or more specialists for tests, treatment, and follow-up care. You may get referred to a specialist for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Your doctor wants to run specific tests
- Your doctor wants to rule out medical conditions
- Your injuries are specific to one area of your body and need expert care
- You need surgery
The specialist will evaluate you and fulfill your doctor’s requests. Then, the specialist will provide your doctor with their findings and recommendations. Your doctor will use the specialist’s findings and recommendations to determine your treatment plan.
What Types of Doctors Treat People Who Have Injuries from Car Accidents?
Car accident injuries can range from minor to life-threatening. You may wonder, “What doctor should I see?” The type of doctor you see after a car wreck will depend on your injuries. You may have a long road to recovery or need a lifetime of support, depending on the severity of your injuries.
Many different kinds of doctors treat car accident victims. Examples of these doctors include, but are not limited to:
Emergency Room Doctors
If you have severe or life-threatening injuries following a life threatening car accident, then an emergency room doctor will likely be the first physician you see. Emergency room doctors provide emergency care and work to stabilize and treat traumatic injuries and other immediate health issues.
Primary Care Physicians
If you do not see an ER doctor after the accident, make an appointment with your primary care doctor for a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Your primary care physician can assess you, run tests, and refer you to a specialist if needed. If you cannot get a quick appointment with your doctor, go to an urgent care center for an evaluation.
It is not uncommon for primary care doctors to refuse treatment after car accidents. Your doctor may refuse treatment for many reasons. However, the most common causes may include, but are not limited to:
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- Additional paperwork
- Complicated billing
- Avoiding insurance companies
- Avoiding the potential litigation process
There is a possibility that your primary care physician will have to provide testimony, and your physician may not want to deal with it. If your primary care doctor refuses to evaluate you after your accident, go to an urgent care clinic. Additionally, if you do not have a primary doctor, go to urgent care. Urgent care physicians generally see patients on a same-day basis.
Radiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries using medical imaging tests. For example, your doctor may refer you to a radiologist for X-rays, a CT scan, MRI, a PET scan, or an ultrasound. These tests can check for broken bones, soft tissue injuries, and organ injuries. The radiologist will interpret your results and provide feedback to your doctor about treatment and care.
Trauma surgeons perform emergency surgeries. You will likely see a trauma surgeon for emergency care if you sustain critical injuries. A few examples of injuries that may require emergency surgery include blunt force or penetrating trauma, internal bleeding, and traumatic brain injuries.
Orthopedists, also known as orthopedic surgeons, specialize in treating bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. These body parts are also known as the musculoskeletal system. Examples of common injuries that may require an orthopedic surgeon include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones or bone fractures
- Torn muscles or ligaments
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Muscle strains or sprains
Neurologists and Neurosurgeons
Neurologists and neurosurgeons specialize in treating disorders affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. However, neurosurgeons perform surgery, and neurologists do not.
After a car accident, you may need to see a neurologist to assess any head or spinal cord injuries. If necessary, a neurologist may refer you to a neurosurgeon.
Car accident victims can suffer chemical burns from contact with hot oil or gas. In some cases, vehicles catch fire after an accident, and victims can be burned. You may see a burn specialist if you suffered first, second, or third-degree burns in the accident.
Plastic surgeons specialize in repair and reconstruction procedures of tissue and skin to restore function and appearance. For example, if you suffer from critical burns, scarring, or disfigurement as a result of your accident, then you may see a plastic surgeon.
General surgeons specialize in surgery on many areas of the body. You may see a general surgeon for internal injuries or injuries not visible outside your body. Examples of internal injuries may include crushed or punctured organs, chest trauma like a punctured lung, and internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma.
Physical, Occupational, and Vocational Therapists
Many injuries may require ongoing rehabilitation treatment for recovery. Depending on your injuries, there are a few types of rehabilitation specialists you may need to see after a car wreck. You may need to see a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or vocational therapist to continue your rehabilitation.
Physical therapy specializes in improving physical mobility and functionality issues in patients. Occupational therapy focuses on helping patients overcome limitations that are affecting their ability to perform daily activities. In addition, vocational therapy specializes in helping people with disabilities or impairments return to the workforce.
What to Do Right After a Car Accident for Your Injuries
Concerning any injuries and your health after a car accident, you should follow these steps:
Call 9-1-1 and Request an Ambulance if Necessary
After a car crash, you should check yourself for any visible injuries before trying to help others or getting out of the vehicle. If you, a passenger, or another party is injured, call 9-1-1 and request an ambulance.
Do Not Make a Statement About Your Health
At the accident scene, emergency responders may ask you how you feel and whether you have injuries. If you do not have visible injuries and believe you are okay, do not deny that you have injuries. Instead, tell the officer or emergency responder you need a medical evaluation.
Seek Medical Attention After an Accident
Even if you believe you have no or only minor injuries, you should seek medical attention immediately after an auto accident. Consulting with a doctor is essential for a couple of reasons.
First, you want to ensure that you do not have dormant injuries that may worsen if left untreated. In the event of a car accident, your body may release adrenaline. Adrenaline increases your pain tolerance and could mask injuries. Once the adrenaline wears off, you could be in much pain.
In addition, some types of injuries may not show immediate symptoms but still require medical care. For example, soft tissue injuries like whiplash, sprains, strains, fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may take hours or days to appear.
Additionally, medical records are essential evidence for your car accident claim. You want to establish that your injuries directly resulted from the car accident.
Insurance companies commonly use a delay in medical attention to devalue your claim. The longer you go without seeing a doctor, the harder it will be to establish the link between your injuries and the crash. The insurance company may also claim that your injuries did not occur due to the accident and deny your claim.
Continue to Seek Medical Care and Follow Treatment Plans
You should continue to seek medical attention as long as your symptoms persist. You should also ensure you do not miss medical appointments and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Why? You want to avoid risking your health or jeopardizing your injury claim. Inconsistent treatment gives the impression that your injuries may not be as bad as you claim and gives the insurance company a reason to devalue your claim.
Contact Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys Today
Have you suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s negligence or gross negligence? You may be able to recover compensation for your damages through a car accident claim. Compensation can help you pay for pain and suffering, medical bills, future expenses, and lost wages.
We welcome you to discuss your unique situation with our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys during a free consultation. We provide a free consultation to answer your questions and help you determine your best legal options. Call us at (800) 824-5416 or fill out our online contact form to get started.
Allen Vaysberg practices personal injury law and works tirelessly to defeat the tactics of insurance companies and large corporations who try to deny justice and fair compensation to injured people.