Seeking Medical Help After a Car Accident in North Carolina
Author: Auger Law | February 18th, 2019
After a car accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, your first step should be to make sure everyone is safe and try to move off the road if possible. Then, call 9-1-1 and specifically ask for an ambulance.
When the police come, they may take a statement from you and any other drivers involved. Meanwhile, paramedics can evaluate your injuries and let you know if you need to go to the hospital. If they say you do, don’t disagree — get the treatment you need.
As experienced Charlotte car accident attorneys, we’ve spoken to many injured people that did not receive any medical care after their accident. If an injured person does not get any medical care after they are injured in a car accident, they are not only hurting themselves physically, but they are also hurting the value of their potential injury case. If you are injured in an accident you should get medical care.
Knowing the ins and outs of getting medical treatment after a car wreck in North Carolina can help you recover from your injuries, and help you get the compensation you deserve.
When Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
As we mentioned before, you should seek medical attention at the scene of the car wreck. Even an initial evaluation by a paramedic can provide valuable information regarding your wellbeing. They may realize that you have serious injuries, and they may tell you that you need to go to the emergency room. Follow their advice.
If you can, document your injuries and pain. Take photos of any visible injuries with your smartphone and make notes of any symptoms or pain you’re experiencing. This can not only help your doctor but can also be invaluable to your Charlotte car accident lawyer if you decide to pursue your potential injury case.
The Paramedics Said I’m Fine. Should I Still Go to the Doctor?
Every car accident and every injury case is different, so the answer will depend on your specific situation. Many times, though, the answer is yes. Paramedics who arrive at the scene of the accident have a limited set of tools to use to evaluate your injuries. As such, they may not be able to determine underlying or undiagnosed injuries you sustained in the wreck. And with your adrenaline pumping after the accident, you may not realize you have these injuries, either.
It’s important to seek medical attention within 72 hours after the wreck, especially if you feel dizziness, numbness, pain or other symptoms. If you wait more than 72 hours, you are not only putting your health at risk, but you are also potentially damaging your personal injury claim. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will decide to make an issue of it.
What’s more, many insurance companies now use software algorithms to determine how much money your injury is worth. One of the factors in this software is whether you sought medical attention within days of the accident. Their programs will certainly use a treatment gap to discount the value of your injury case.
There are instances where you may not be able to get to a doctor within that time frame, because of bad weather or if your injury is during the holidays. Your attorney can certainly notate those issues, but the insurance company may still challenge your lack of medical care soon after an accident, regardless of what valid excuse you may have. The bottom line is this: Don’t wait too long after your accident to get medical treatment!
What Information Should I Provide?
When you get to the doctor or the hospital, be sure to provide identifying information, as well as your symptoms. You should also provide your health insurance information. While this is par for the course whenever you go to the doctor, it’s especially important to remember after a car accident. Too often, patients will provide their auto insurance information (or police report information that includes auto insurance information), hoping it will cover their medical bills.
While the other person’s auto insurance will often (eventually) cover the medical bills, it will generally not be a situation where they pay each bill individually as they come due. If your accident lawyer can resolve your case, they will use your medical bills as one of the factors used to evaluate the potential value of your case. If there is a settlement from the auto insurance company, your providers, your health insurance company (if applicable) and you (for co-pays, prescriptions, etc.) will get paid from your settlement. We encourage all of our clients to use their health insurance and to follow through with providers to make sure that all of their medical bills are filed with their own health insurance company.
What Type of Doctors Should I See?
Ever case is different. Lawyers don’t practice medicine and can’t diagnose your injuries. When it comes to seeking medical attention, you have options and you are ultimately responsible for figuring out the type(s) of medical care that you may need. Only you know how you feel. Different injuries may require different types of medical practices. For instance, some of our clients receive treatments from their orthopedists while other clients treat with specialists for their concussions or other injuries.
If you were seriously injured, most likely you would already have been seen by a doctor at a hospital or urgent care. From there, it all depends on your injuries. If appropriate, many clients will visit their regular general practitioner after they have been in a car accident. Clients know that their regular doctors already have their information and medical history on file. They know that their own doctors may be able to prescribe a treatment regimen to help their injuries heal, all under their careful supervision. In some cases, they may refer the client to a physical therapist or to some other specialist for treatment and or additional diagnostics.
If you can’t get an appointment with your doctor or you don’t have one, you have other options. Some injured clients may go to an urgent care for some of the same medical care that their own regular doctor would have been able to provide if they were able to get in with them. Many urgent care facilities can provide x-rays or referrals for other types of diagnostics or care by other doctors/specialists. Just because an urgent care often treats people with colds, viruses or minor sprains, don’t assume that they can’t help you after your car accident.
Others may choose to visit a chiropractor if they have injuries that a chiropractor can address. A chiropractor will evaluate you and speak to you about how chiropractic care may be able to help you with your various injuries. After an initial consultation that may include x-rays, the chiropractor may put together a treatment plan that may include adjustments to your neck and spine and other therapies geared towards nerve stimulation. It is common to see the chiropractor multiple times per week when you first start treating with them.
What Are My Options for Paying for Medical Treatment?
After a car accident, you could potentially wait weeks or months for the automobile insurance company to send you compensation for your medical bills. Even with the help of an experienced accident attorney, the process of getting the compensation you deserve is generally not fast because your attorneys cannot resolve your injury case with the insurance company before you finish receiving your medical treatment. That takes time! Unfortunately, as you continue to recover and get medical care, those medical bills may pile up.
There are a few different options you can choose from when it comes to paying your medical bills:
1. Your Auto Insurance’s Medpay Coverage
You probably don’t want to use your own car insurance policy to pay for your medical bills if you didn’t cause the accident. However, in some cases you may have coverage that you bought for this very situation. If you purchased medical payment insurance (Medpay), you should go ahead and use it. After all, this is exactly what you purchased the coverage for, and it can have a big impact on the final amount of the compensation that you receive when your case is resolved.
Medpay is extra insurance coverage that is available to you and your passengers if there is a car accident that results in injuries. It is only for medical bills. If you have elected to purchase Medpay (it is not required) the amount that you added to your policy will be there for you to use to pay towards your medical bills regardless of who caused the accident. Also, remember that your passengers can use it as well.
Medpay is not required and the amount that you can purchase depends on what your insurance company can offer you. We have seen Medpay policies as small as $500 and as large as $25,000.00 but $1,000 to $2,000 in coverage is very common. Your attorneys and your medical providers can assist you with making your Medpay claim if you have Medpay coverage. Depending on the amount of Medpay you have and the amount of your medical bills, Medpay may not be enough to cover everything. Thankfully there may be other options.
2. Your Health Insurance
This is a common option for paying for medical treatment after a car wreck. Filing with your own health insurance company may have an immediate effect on the amount of money that you have to pay towards your medical bills before you resolve your case. You will still be responsible for copays, deductibles, and other expenses, but in general, your health insurance will cover any bills that are covered by your policy (for instance, alternative treatments like acupuncture may not be covered). This not only applies to private insurance policies but also Medicare and Medicaid.
It is very likely that you will be required to reimburse your health insurance provider for these treatments after you get a settlement. In cases of clients that have their medical treatment paid by Medicare there is also a significant amount of time that goes into making sure that Medicare has been paid the amount that it is owed to them. It is important to remember that in most cases you cannot have your medical bills paid for by your health insurance and also walk away with compensation from the other person’s insurance company in a form of a settlement that is significantly based on the amount and costs of the medical care that you received. Again, every situation is different, and it is always a good idea to speak to your injury lawyer about how your health insurance will affect your settlement.
3. Paying Out of Pocket
This is obviously the least desirable option, but it’s one you may need to consider if you don’t have Medpay coverage and/or health insurance. However, you may be able to negotiate a hold or payment plan on your medical bills until a settlement has been reached, which means your bills won’t go to collections. It is very important that you keep in contact with the providers regarding your outstanding medical bills. Speaking to them about a payment plan may be a great way of working something out with them temporarily until your lawyer resolves your case and settles your medical bills with your providers.
How Can a Charlotte, North Carolina Accident Attorney Help Me?
With medical bills, lost wages, car damage and more, being in a car wreck can become quite expensive. You may be left waiting for months for a settlement check, and even that may not completely cover you. That’s why we always recommend talking to our North Carolina car accident attorneys after a wreck and before you talk to the insurance company!
At Auger & Auger, we always offer free case evaluations. During our initial conversation, we’ll discuss your accident and injuries. We will also try to address any questions that we may be able to answer. We want to see how we can help you! Call us today at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.