Millions of people are treated each year in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in accidents. People go to the emergency room after car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle crashes, slip & fall accidents, dog bites, defective product injuries, and construction accidents, to name a few.
Some individuals are transported directly to the ER from the accident scene. Other people go to the emergency room after experiencing symptoms of an injury in the hours or days following an accident.
Since so many people visit the emergency room each year, you should know a few things going to the ER after an accident.
1. Notes and Records From Medical Staff Are Important in a Personal Injury Case
Nurses, doctors, and other medical providers ask lots of questions. They will ask about your injuries, and they may question you about the accident or how you were injured.
Be careful what you say to nurses, doctors, and ER staff members. Your comments and answers become part of your medical record, which the insurance company and defense attorney will receive when you file a personal injury claim.
Therefore, if you state that you are unsure how the accident occurred or imply you are at fault, those statements could significantly impact the outcome of your personal injury case.
Try to keep your answers short and to the point. Do not elaborate on how the accident occurred or offer information that is not requested. Try to keep the conversation confined to your injuries and symptoms.
2. Be Careful What You Sign
You will be given numerous documents when you enter the emergency room. The hospital requires that you sign a consent to treatment and other forms. You may also be given forms about your insurance coverage.
If you are seriously injured, it may be impossible for you to understand these forms. If you do not understand the insurance forms, ask the person to wait until you are not under the influence of medication or severe pain to read and understand the document.
Tell the records personnel that you have health insurance that may cover the cost of care but that the injuries were sustained in an accident caused by another party.
3. Tell Nurses and Doctors About All Symptoms
Do not leave out any information about your injuries or symptoms, regardless of whether the symptom is minor or severe. All aches and pains could be an indication of a serious condition. You want the medical staff to note all of your complaints in your medical chart.
One reason for relaying all your symptoms is for doctors to provide a correct diagnosis. It is also crucial for claims purposes.
Some injuries may not be immediately noticeable. It could take a few hours or days for you to begin feeling severe pain or severe symptoms. It is more difficult for an insurance company to allege that the accident did not cause your injury when the ER records indicate you were experiencing minor symptoms within minutes or hours after the crash.
4. Emergency Room Costs Can Be High
The costs of emergency care can be high. Your physicians may need to perform one or more diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your symptoms. The ER doctor might order a CT scan, MRI, x-rays, an ultrasound, and various blood work. The cost could total thousands of dollars for one imagining test.
Your health insurance company may pay for some of these costs. However, you could have thousands of dollars in co-pays or uncovered amounts that the hospital expects you to pay. Talk with a personal injury lawyer about ways that you can hold off paying ER bills while your personal injury case is pending.
5. Request Written Instructions for Further Care
Before you leave the emergency room, ask the staff to provide written instructions for your care. Make sure you understand these instructions and follow them after leaving the hospital. Follow up with your physician as soon as possible for further care.
Delays in medical care, refusing care, and failing to follow a treatment plan can hurt your chance of recovering a fair settlement for your personal injury claim.
Seek Legal Advice if You Have Questions
Most people have never had to deal with a personal injury claim. Therefore, they may not understand the process or the types of damages they might be entitled to receive. If you have questions about an injury, ask a personal injury attorney for help.
It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel rather than trust what an insurance company tells you about a claim. The insurance company is looking out for its best interest. You need someone who will do the same for you.