Reasons You Should NOT Just See Your Primary Care Doctor After You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident

medical specialist

In this article you will learn:

  • Why simply consulting with your primary care doctor after a motor vehicle accident is insufficient.
  • How documentation of your pain and symptoms can be vital when you are trying to get a fair settlement or win a case for compensation in court.

If you are pregnant, you see an obstetrician. If you are having prostate problems, you visit a urologist. If you are in a car accident, well, most people consult their primary care doctors, but this is not necessarily the best idea.

Primary care physicians are not specialists. They can certainly refer you to a specialist, but on the whole, they practice general medicine. According to WebMD, the functions of primary care physicians are to:

  • Practice preventative care (such as when they keep an eye on your blood pressure or cholesterol levels)
  • Treat common illnesses (such as sinus infections or the flu)
  • Detect dangerous conditions (such as heart disease or cancer)
  • Manage chronic conditions (such as asthma)
  • Make referrals to specialists

After you have been in a serious accident, you may be treated in the emergency room. If you are not admitted to the hospital at that point, you will probably be released and told to follow up with your PCP. Here are some things to take note of before you do that:

  1. Many car accident-related injuries do not make themselves immediately or completely apparent until a day or several days after an accident, especially whiplash, and head, neck, and back injuries.
  2. Whatever you do, do not downplay your pain. This is not the time to be brave. Your doctor will document everything you say, so if you have tingling in your arm or leg, for instance, mention it. It may be an indication that you have a herniated disc.
  3. Your doctor will be inclined to focus on your primary issue, but you need to make sure that everything is documented, no matter how minor. You never know if it will turn into something serious after some time has passed.
  4. Many times, doctors will advise you that you simply need to rest and recover and follow up with them if you feel no improvement.
  5. Consider if makes more sense at this point for you to see a specialist in car accident injuries who can get you into physical therapy and document your pain regularly.
  6. If you end up finding that you have a significant or unrelenting injury at a later time, you will need documentation. Otherwise, an insurance adjuster may simply try to argue that if there is a long period without your visiting the doctor that you must have been feeling fine.
  7. Another reason for seeing a neurologist, chiropractor, osteopath, or other specialist familiar with car accident injuries is that they may accept third-party billing.
  8. You may not be in a position to pay doctor or physical therapist bills, but either your (or the other driver’s) insurance may have coverage to  pay directly to whoever is treating you.
  9. Another option sometimes used is for your attorney to agree with your doctor to continue treating you and to receive payment when your claim is settled.
  10. If you are being treated by a specialist for your pain and car accident-related injuries but you need to see your PCP for another unrelated issue in the meantime, make sure to talk about your injuries and pain in detail. You need your PCP to include these observations in your medical record.
  11. Insurance companies are notoriously eager to pay the least amount possible on a claim, which is why you and your car accident attorney need to be prepared with facts and documentation.
  12. If the insurance company does not offer you an appropriate amount of compensation and you are not able to obtain a fair settlement, your attorney will begin building a case to take to trial. This will include taking a deposition from whoever is treating you. Primary care physicians do not frequently give depositions, but car accident doctors do. They understand the language used and are familiar with the process.
  13. Whatever you do, always tell the truth. For example, if you have a pre-existing condition, make sure that you mention it to your doctor. You may worry that you won’t receive compensation if the accident exacerbated the injury, but that isn’t the case. However, if you don’t mention it at all and the insurance adjuster learns of it, he or she may assume that you were being dishonest and trying to claim an old injury.

In summary, primary care physicians are excellent doctors, but most don’t happen to specialize in car accident trauma. Sometimes rest and painkillers aren’t adequate. Often, physical therapy and/or chiropractic treatment will prevent flare-ups from occurring in the future. Always consider following up with a specialist, and don’t stop seeing that person until your pain is gone.

Proving a soft tissue injury can be difficult, which is why most insurance companies fight these claims. Without an experienced Indianapolis soft tissue injury lawyer, you may not receive the compensation you deserve for your injury.

Call 1-800-265-9881 or contact us online now to learn how Poynter & Bucheri, LLC can help you with your personal injury claim.