Should You Visit Your Primary Care Physician After an Accident?

Key Points:

  • Although you might be tempted to wait to see your primary care provider (PCP) after an accident, postponing treatment until you can get an appointment could do more harm than good.
  • Receiving same-day treatment at an emergency room could increase your chances of finding life-threatening “silent” or internal injuries that a PCP may not be able to diagnose.
  • The sooner you receive a comprehensive report detailing your injuries, the sooner and more likely you are to receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.

Medical Attention from a Competent Medical Professional Is Critical

Doctors talking a car accident victim
Medical office A doctor sharing medical results on a digital tablet with a patient.

Not seeking immediate medical care can be a deadly mistake, if you’ve been in an accident. Although you may seem relatively fine, some life-threatening injuries, such as brain or internal organ damage, are not always immediately apparent.

Unfortunately, an adrenaline surge from the accident can mask the symptoms of deadly injuries, causing you to think you’re unharmed. But as the minutes pass, internal injuries could cause serious damage. Without a trip to a doctor’s office, these injuries could go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Therefore, it never hurts to visit the emergency room as soon as possible, so you can ensure any hidden, severe injuries are found and treated. The emergency room has the diagnostic equipment necessary for a complete evaluation, including x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scanning capabilities. These tools can identify problems that could grow steadily worse and might eventually even cost you your life.

While you may be tempted to visit your primary care provider instead, waiting for an appointment could mean losing valuable time for “silent” injuries to worsen. On the other hand, emergency rooms offer same-day care, where doctors can see, diagnose, and treat accident trauma more quickly. Emergency room doctors are also used to seeing accident victims regularly, so they have specialized expertise that might not be available at your regular doctor’s office.

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Why Primary Care Might Not Be the Best Place After a Car Accident

Because primary care physicians often see patients for minor injuries or illnesses, they may not be prepared to treat accident victims. Oftentimes, primary care offices are staffed by nurses and nurse practitioners who may be inexperienced in treating trauma or thoroughly evaluating auto accident injuries.

Even if you can see your fully licensed medical doctor instantly, they do not usually have the expensive imaging equipment necessary to diagnose “silent” or internal injuries.

These factors make it unlikely that your primary care physician is able to write up the meticulous medical report essential for the legal battle with insurance company attorneys that could become necessary.

How Seeing a PCP Could Impact Your Ability to Receive Compensation

In addition to potentially delaying treatment for internal injuries, waiting weeks or even months to see your primary care provider can delay or hinder your ability to obtain compensation for your care and treatment. Medical expenses are typically paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, so it makes sense to get the best medical care possible as quickly as you can.

Waiting to see a doctor following an accident can also raise doubt as to whether your injuries are serious, which could put any insurance settlement at risk. Insurance company attorneys are very good at casting doubt upon how badly you were hurt, especially if there is a delay in seeking medical treatment.

To avoid paying for treatment out of your own pocket, seek medical care immediately.

The Benefits of Seeing Your Primary Care Physician for Follow-Up Care

After your initial emergency room visit, and with a full accident report in hand, your regular doctor can care for you for the remainder of your recovery.

Accident victims often find comfort in knowing that their primary care physician knows them and has access to their full medical history. This can be extremely useful during the follow-up phases of your treatment.

Additionally, your PCP will be in a position to refer you to the best specialist because they know you and your medical history.

Why Finances Shouldn’t Matter When Seeing a Doctor after an Accident

Most of us will not quibble over finances when our children or loved ones are in need of medical care. Interestingly, though, we tend to settle for less than the best when we are injured. Please don’t make this mistake.

After an accident is not the time to settle for less. The stakes are just too high. If untreated injuries don’t cost you your life, they could very well make the rest of your days difficult and painful.

Do not forget that, ultimately, medical costs are almost always paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance. In the critical hours following an accident, you deserve the best medical care available to you.

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