If you or a loved one have been injured by the carelessness of another driver, there are a few things you should remember with regard to visiting the emergency room:

Go NOW! – Avoiding Gaps in Treatment

We frequently see injured victims who call our office after a Georgia or Alabama automobile accident complaining of pain.  In most instances, another driver was clearly at fault for the accident and responsible for the injuries.  However, many times these injured victims have not sought medical treatment at all in the days, weeks or months following the accident.

An insurance company’s evaluation of a car accident case often starts with the question: when did the injured party first seek treatment?  If days or weeks have gone by, the insurance company will make the argument that the person was not hurt, otherwise they would have sought immediate medical treatment.  Many jurors, especially in conservative areas of Georgia and Alabama, may agree with this assessment and refuse to award money damages to the Georgia or Alabama injury victim.

For this reason, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately following an automobile accident, preferably via an ambulance from the scene.  If it is not feasible to leave in an ambulance due to, for example, being alone with small children in your vehicle with no one to babysit, then going to the emergency room later on the same day must be an injury victim’s number one priority placing every other matter aside.  This approach will prevent the insurance company from arguing that there was a “gap” or delay in treatment and that your claim is worth nothing.

Tell Them Everything that Hurts – Head to Toe

We frequently see instances where a Georgia or Alabama injury victim will call our offices and state words similar to:

“It’s been 3 weeks since the accident and now my wrist is hurting.  It has to be because of the accident.”

Or

“I told the emergency room my back was hurting after the accident last month.  I didn’t really mention my headaches to the emergency room doctor because they were not hurting as bad as my back.  Now my back is better but my headaches are killing me.”

Often injury victims will be admitted to the emergency room following a Georgia or Alabama car accident and only complain of what is “hurting the most” when, in reality, they are experiencing multiple levels of pain in various parts of their body.  When these secondary complaints become unbearable days or weeks later, the insurance company will argue that it is not related to the car accident because it was not documented or complained of immediately following the accident.

For this reason, we tell our clients to make sure that they tell medical personnel each and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet, that is experiencing any level of pain or discomfort each time they go to the doctor.  This same analysis applies when an injured victim is admitted to the emergency room immediately following an accident.  Therefore, if injured in a car accident an injured victim should explain from the top of his/her head to the bottom of his/her feet every level of pain or discomfort that is being experienced in any part of his/her body.  This will result in a fully documented injury and avoid the problem of secondary injuries being ignored by the insurance company.

Don’t Expect the Emergency Room to Permanently Fix the Injury – Expect Follow Up Doctor’s Visits

Emergency rooms are inherently crowded places.  Nurses and staff are often overworked.  In automobile accident cases especially, the purpose of an emergency room is to initially diagnose and stabilize, not engage in a long-term treatment strategy.  The following example illustrates the point:

A careless driver strikes the rear of Jennifer’s vehicle and injures her back.  Jennifer goes to the emergency room immediately following the accident and x-rays show that her back is not broken and that she has some degenerative changes due to age.  She is released with some pain medication but her pain persists.  She makes an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in automobile accident injuries who learns after an MRI and testing that the careless driver caused a herniated disc in her spine that will require surgery.

The point of this example is to highlight the point that an injured victim in a Georgia or Alabama car accident should not expect an emergency room to cure the problem.  In most cases, a follow-up with a specialist will be required.