6 Reasons to See an Accident Doctor Immediately after a Car Crash

Jul 27, 2022

Reasons to See an Accident Doctor Immediately after a Car CrashCar accidents account for 32,000 deaths and 2 million injuries in the United States each year, the highest rate of any nation. Each accident victim runs the risk of long-term complications that can lead to loss of quality of life, income, ability to work, and function normally. Avoiding these problems requires the kind of specialized care that a car accident doctor, such as those at AICA Lithia Springs, can offer. Located in Douglas County, GA, we offer a convenient location to have your car crash injuries treated by expert providers.

Get Specialized Care

Car crash injuries can range from relatively minor to catastrophic. Many injuries are associated with long-term complications such as chronic pain, impaired ability to perform activities of daily living, and poor psychological outcomes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seeing a car accident doctor can help to preserve your quality of life, including your physical, mental, and financial well-being. Studies have shown that ongoing support by a skilled interdisciplinary team of physicians and physical therapists trained in orthopedics leads to optimal outcomes following an accident.

55% of patients with car crash injuries required more than one session of rehabilitation by a professional after they were discharged from an acute care setting such as the hospital. In most cases, the care needed was due to injuries to the brain, bones, muscles, and skin, as well as for pain control.

What injuries can a car accident doctor treat?

  • Post-concussion syndrome, which can cause symptoms of a concussion to persist long after the initial concussion has resolved
  • Whiplash, which can appear days after an accident has occurred but may result in pain that lasts years afterward without appropriate care
  • Other musculoskeletal injuries, such as to the pelvis, legs, arms, spine, and shoulders
  • Wounds to the skin, such as abrasions and tears

Injuries can often be missed after a car accident due to the immediate stress response the body engages in to try and protect us. A hundred thousand years ago, this was helpful as we needed to run away from wild animals chasing us down for dinner, even when we were hurt. That ability to numb an injury is due to chemicals that the body releases during times of acute stress and injury, such as adrenaline and endorphins. Adrenaline, also called epinephrine, gives our body the ability to perform superhuman feats when necessary, but it also is short-lived and increases the chance that we will miss an injury in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Once it wears off, the person can find themselves in a great deal of pain. The same is true for endorphins, which are chemically similar to opioids, and mask pain that occurs in acute situations. They keep us going during the short-term, helping us escape that hungry beast of our ancestors, but once they fade, we may find ourselves in too much pain to even move, much less seek care.

To avoid missing a car crash injury that may have occurred, do not rely on physical appearance alone or the absence of pain to assume nothing has happened. Even minor accidents can result in significant complications that lead to long-term pain and disability. Whiplash is a good example, with many people not seeking care immediately as symptoms may not appear until several days have passed. Seeing a skilled car accident doctor promptly can allow them to evaluate you thoroughly for any missed injuries and provide the correct care in response.

Avoid Chronic Pain

Chronic pain after car crash injuries is a serious problem that can have long-term ramifications for patients. 62% of patients in one study stated they experienced pain in their necks following an accident, with 22.6% reporting pain remaining after one year and another 5% having pain remaining after five years. Chronic pain associated with car accidents results in impaired quality of life, reduced social and work activities, loss of income, increased healthcare expenditures, reliance on medications and mobility aids, and emotional distress. The pain has to be related to a car accident and present for more than one month to be classified as chronic car accident pain. Since a trained car accident doctor can improve outcomes, it may be possible to avoid the development of chronic pain by seeking care promptly.

Avoid Disability

Avoid DisabilityCar accident injuries are a leading cause of disability worldwide and in the US, with traumatic injuries leading to chronic pain and impairment of functional activities. In one study, almost a quarter of patients had not returned to work two years after the car accident in which they sustained injuries. Those who develop emotional injuries following a car accident are equally at risk for requiring disability assistance due to PTSD.

What injuries are most likely to lead to disability after a car accident?

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Loss of limb
  • Loss of use of a limb
  • Loss of a sense, such as vision or hearing
  • Head injury
  • Whiplash

Your risk of requiring disability after a car accident increases with any of the above-mentioned injuries, but other factors can influence that determination. Patients who have a high level of disability immediately after a car accident and experience a great deal of pain are most at risk. Injuries to the spinal cord and legs were also more likely to become disabled than their counterparts. The doctors and providers at AICA Lithia Springs are some of the best orthopedic providers in the area and are specially trained to provide care for injuries to the spine and other bones, muscles, and soft tissue.

Car accident doctors can also send patients to providers for services they themselves do not offer, ensuring the patient gets the right care promptly. Referral to specialists, particularly mental health providers, can help prevent long-term complications and disability. Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in more than a third of those who have experienced a car crash, with symptoms persisting for at least 30 days and sometimes for many years.

Unfortunately, many patients do not seek care for their emotional health after a car accident and so may have unresolved psychological issues that contribute to poor outcomes in other aspects of their well-being. By the time many seek care, their symptoms have become chronic and can be harder to treat. Studies have shown that seeking therapy for PTSD after a car accident can help reduce symptom burden significantly.

How do I know if I have PTSD? Symptoms include:

  • Recurring and intrusive thoughts about the accident
  • Nightmares
  • Avoidance behavior, such as refusing to drive or talk about the event
  • Changes in emotional responses, either too little or too much
  • Feeling alone and unable to relate to others
  • Physical signs of excessive flight or fight response, such as high heart rate, sweating, being easily startled, and poor sleep)

If you find you have any of these symptoms after a crash, talk to your car accident doctor today about getting a referral to the appropriate services. Psychotherapy can be beneficial, but new treatment options for PTSD are available that can improve the quality of life for those suffering from its effects. The sooner care is sought, the easier it is to prevent the development of chronic problems that can lead to disability.

Protect Your Assets

Being a victim of car accident injuries is traumatic enough, but often the individual is left unable to work at least temporarily, and the economic impact can be equally devastating as the physical. The enormous burden of cost to the economy caused by car accidents is staggering, with each disabling event costing an average of $101,000 and other kinds of injuries totaling $65,900 per accident. Compared to the cost of damage to each vehicle, which was $4700, it is clear the bulk of the financial burden for accidents lands at the feet of the person who was injured.

The economic costs are simply for medical expenses, which are easier to calculate than other losses. Those may include lost wages, attorneys’ fees, employers’ costs, damage to the vehicle, costs for care assistance and help in the home if needed, and more. Few people can afford to miss a paycheck, much less to be out of work long enough to allow an injury to fully heal.

A car accident doctor can help you preserve your assets by assisting you in the filing of any disability claims, particularly for those with short- and long-term disability coverage through an employer. Having an expert doctor who knows how to answer the questions on such forms makes a big difference in the determination of the need for benefits and can prevent delays in payouts that could cost you your home and savings. In addition, prompt care also reduces the amount of time to recover, allowing you to get back to work sooner.

Establish a Basis for Legal Claims

Car crash injuries in the US are often a result of speeding or impaired driving. For this reason, many accident victims may seek legal compensation in the form of a lawsuit or insurance claim. One-third of those injured in accidents will pursue this kind of financial justice in the civil courts. Lawsuits that involve car accidents in civil court are part of tort law, meaning it is a civil action between two parties that are not representing the government in any way.

What is required for a legal claim after a car accident?

  • The individual being sued must be demonstrably negligent.
  • Are there assets to compensate with, such as liability insurance?
  • Can any claims to that compensation be proven to be directly related to the negligent act?

In other words, to build the basis of a lawsuit, the individual has to not only prove that the other person was at fault due to negligent actions, but also that any injuries or consequences of those injuries were solely due to the accident. Such a case also requires that the defendant have assets that can be leveraged to compensate for those injuries since lawsuits are expensive to pursue for both the attorneys and the patients. While liability insurance is mandatory in all states in the United States, some people will inevitably fail to obtain coverage. That can result in no compensation being available, even in the case of obvious negligence.

For example, if a person is injured by a drunk driver, the court most likely will also have a criminal case against them. That criminal charge is evidence of negligence on their part while driving, and so any injuries that occurred as a result to the other party can be claimed as a legal basis for a civil suit. But if the person has no liability insurance and no assets to recover from, then it is unlikely that an attorney will take the case. The role of the car accident doctor in this scenario is to provide a solid medical record with clear evidence that the injuries were due to the accident and cannot be explained by another cause.

Fortunately, most third-party claims in the US do not ever reach the point of a trial or legal case. They are almost always settled by insurance companies promptly, using established guidelines and algorithms. Having a car accident doctor who is aware of what insurance codes and terminology to use in the chart can make this process much easier. With the high economic burden of car accident injuries, the ability to obtain compensation in a timely manner can not only help the individual preserve their financial assets, but it can also help them afford the healthcare they need to fully recover without complications.

Peace of Mind

Peace of MindHuman beings can sometimes struggle to identify when something is wrong with their bodies, particularly as knowledge about human physiology becomes more and more complex. Good, quality information can be hard to find online. Seeking the care of a car accident doctor is not only good for your overall outcome, but it is also good for ensuring you don’t have to worry or struggle to find the right answers yourself. They can identify problems you may have overlooked, particularly immediately after an accident when the flight or fight response is hiding them. More importantly, they can give you the treatment you deserve with compassion and excellence. To see the providers at AICA Lithia Springs, contact us today.


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