77% of drivers have been in at least one car accident, according to a report released by Esurance, and the average driver will have to file an auto insurance claim for a car wreck every 18 years. So, you’re likely to be involved in three or four car crashes in your lifetime, which means it’s important to be prepared.
Many car crash victims skip going to the doctor after their accident. And even when they do go, injured victims sometimes don’t tell their doctor the full story. Making either of these mistakes could lead to prolonged, potentially life-threatening ailments and injuries. And either mistake could also cost you substantial financial compensation if you choose to file a personal injury claim.
If you get injured in a car accident, you should always go to the hospital or a doctor’s office and receive treatment as soon as possible, and you should give complete and thorough answers to any questions from a medical professional. However, sometimes even this isn’t enough.
Some doctors excel at communicating and keeping patients in the loop, but not all doctors are good at this. So, you may need to be proactive. You need to ask your medical team the right questions to protect your health, which should be your number one priority after an accident. And as you receive medical treatment, you’ll also build critical documentation that will prove essential if you decide to file a personal injury claim.
Keep reading to learn the five most important questions to ask your doctor after a car crash.
1. What Are My Specific Injuries?
To understand what you’ve endured so far and what may come, you need to know exactly which injuries you’ve suffered. Diagnosing your exact injuries may require additional lab testing and diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray, CT Scan, or MRI.
If the doctor tells you about an injury and you’re not sure exactly what it means, ask for more information. Ask the doctor to be as specific as possible. For example, if you suffered a lower leg injury, was it a sprain, tear, or fracture? Or, if your back is injured, which vertebrae are affected? For all injuries, ask the doctor to document whether he or she considers them to be minor, moderate, or severe.
2. What Is My Long-Term Outlook for Recovery?
Understanding your long-term outlook is not only important for your health and wellbeing, but it could also be an important factor in determining how much compensation you’re entitled to receive through a personal injury claim. For any doctors you visit, you should ask how long they believe it will take for you to recover fully from your injuries — physically, mentally, or emotionally, depending on what type of medical professional you’re seeing. In some cases, your recovery might be a matter of weeks.
However, some victims suffer injuries that never fully heal. Hearing that your injuries may create limitations or complications for life can be frightening, but the best thing you can do to fight that fear is to learn as much as you can. The more you know about your injuries and your prognosis, the better you can prepare yourself for the road ahead and set your expectations.
Even if you’ll never regain all the abilities you enjoyed before the injury, you’ll eventually reach a point doctors call “maximum medical improvement. When you reach this point, you’ve recovered as much as possible.
Your doctor probably won’t be able to guarantee that you can reach maximum medical improvement in any exact amount of time. However, they should be able to at least give you a general range that describes how long the process might take.
3. Do I Need Any Medications?
Before asking about any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat your injuries, make sure to give your doctor a complete description of all medications you’re currently taking. Giving your doctor this information will help avoid potential side effects, negative interactions, or excessive (and potentially harmful) dosages.
Once you’ve given a full account of your past and current medication use, you should inquire as to any prescriptions or OTCs that may help treat the pain, swelling, or emotional distress of your injuries. If you have suffered any deep cuts or burns, be sure to ask whether antibiotics might help reduce swelling or the risk of infection.
4. When Can I Go Back to Work? (And What Restrictions Should I Observe?)
Depending on what you do for a living and the nature of your injuries, your pain, injury symptoms, and limitations might prevent you from returning to work for a while or maybe even forever. A personal injury claim can help you receive compensation for the wages and career opportunities you’ve lost, but you need to establish how long it will take to return to work (if you ever can) and what your limitations will be when you come back.
Although your doctor may not know exactly when or if you’ll be able to work again, they should still be able to say whether you can work right now and give a general estimate of when you might be able to work again. This estimate may change during your treatment and recovery process, but it’s still important to get a baseline estimate as soon as you can.
5. Should I Seek Treatment With a Specialist?
The first doctor you visit may be able to diagnose your injuries, develop an accurate prognosis and treatment plan, and give you a rough timeframe that estimates how long you’ll be out of work. However, this could also not be the case. Your doctor may suspect you have a certain type of injury, but they may not have the specialized training or equipment needed to diagnose you, create a treatment plan, or give an accurate prognosis. If this happens, your doctor should send you to a specialist.
Specialists are highly trained medical professionals who focus on distinct areas and systems in the human body. For example, if your treating physician believes you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, they will likely refer you to a skilled neurologist — a doctor who specializes in the human brain. Or, if your back has been injured as a result of your car crash, your doctor may schedule an appointment for you to meet with an orthopedist who specializes in disorders and injuries of the spine.
Medical Records Create Essential Evidence for a Personal Injury Claim
After you’ve asked the questions above and received a thorough medical evaluation, you’ll need to get copies of all your medical records, including this most recent visit. This documentation of your previous medical history and any records related to your car crash will provide critical evidence if you decide to file a personal injury claim.
It’s not easy to gather and organize medical records. This process can take a lot of effort and time, and you may end up exhausted, especially if you’re still working to recover from your injuries. However, if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney, they should be able to handle the evidence-gathering process so you can focus on your health and recovery.
Need Help After a Car Crash in Charlotte, North Carolina? Call Myers Law Firm Today
If you’ve suffered injuries because of another driver’s negligence in Mecklenburg County, you’re entitled to financial compensation under the law. The attorneys at Myers Law Firm are experienced, compassionate, and ready to fight for justice on your behalf.
Larsen, A. (2020). Infographic: The odds of a ticket or an accident. Esurance. Retrieved from https://blog.esurance.com/infographic-odds-of-ticket-or-accident/