Medical Treatment After an Accident

  1. If an ambulance arrives:
    • Emergency personnel will check for pain and certain injuries. Allow yourself to be examined, even if you think you're okay.
    • Injuries may be undetectable but if your condition changes, refusal of treatment at the scene may be taken as evidence that the accident is not to blame for your pain.
  2. If you are taken to the hospital:
    • If possible, give your treating physician information about the accident.
    • Describe in detail all pain and discomfort, as well as your ability or inability to use injured area(s). Even minor physical problems should be mentioned; they may develop into serious injuries.
  3. If you are not taken to the hospital, or if no ambulance is called to the scene -
    • Make an appointment to have your doctor perform an examination as soon after the accident as possible.
    • At your appointment, describe in detail all pain and discomfort, as well as your ability or inability to use injured area(s). Even minor physical problems should be mentioned; they may develop into serious injuries.
    • This information could be used for lawsuit purposes.

Injury

WHN READER TIP: Write EVERYTHING Down

One lesson is to keep a diary after the accident. You should be documenting everything that you are going through day by day. I included everything - how I was feeling, doctor visit notes, time taken off from work.

-- Kim L., Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Keeping an injury diary might be useful for insurance and legal purposes - ask your insurance agent or lawyer for further advice on how to keep an accurate account of your recovery. For starters:

  1. Date every entry you make - if you make several entries in a day, add the time of the entry.
  2. Your diary should contain:
    • Information and descriptions of your injuries.
    • A pain scale. Rate your injuries on a daily/hourly basis. For instance, no pain = 0 and excruciating pain = 10.
    • Information about how your injuries are affecting your daily routine, your ability to work (job performance), and a list of any social and family events that you are unable to attend or participate in because of your injuries.
    • Consider taking photographs of your injuries. Photos can help your claim and your case.
  3. Request a copy of the official police report for your medical records.

Doctor Visits

WHN TIP: Injury Sub-Folder

Ask your doctor's office to start a personal injury sub-folder for you - tell them all visits should be filed in this folder until further notice. This may allow you to submit claims to your car insurance, rather than your medical insurance (ask your agent). If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company may reimburse yours. The doctor's office may need to copy your car insurance card as well as your medical insurance card.

  1. Bring your accident file each time you see the doctor. Each time, record the following information:
    • Doctor's Name
    • Specialty
    • Practice/Hospital
    • Date seen
    • Diagnosis/Care given
    • Next steps
    • Next appointment
  2. WHN TIP: Tracking Form

    Print and take your Medical Appointment Tracking Form with you. This way you can track each appointment and your progress. Fill out the form and add it to your accident file after each appointment.

  3. If appropriate, ask your doctor to write a letter to your insurance company explaining the findings of your examination and prescribing further care.
  4. Remember, your doctor's office should file all paperwork from accident-related visits in a separate accident subfolder in your medical records. It's okay to ask to see this folder to make sure it is up-to-date.

WHN TIP: No Skipping

Don't skip treatments or other medical appointments. This could be used as proof that you weren't really injured. If you are tired or in pain, it's okay to ask for help getting to your appointment.

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. These tips are from doctors, nurses and people who have shared advice. Always check with a doctor, pharmacist or other appropriate medical professional you trust before making any healthcare changes.

Thank you ...

A special thank you to the industry professionals, doctors, nurses, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.