As a Houston resident, you don’t likely need any reminding of how heavily congested our city’s roadways are. The traffic is overwhelming, no matter whether you drive down city streets or take your car out on the interstate. The heavy congestion doesn’t just impact commute times but instead gives way to The Bayou City’s above-average motor vehicle accident rate.
Data released by the Texas Department of Transportation details how accidents increased from 65,912 to 75,336 from 2020 to 2021. This marks a 14% increase in collisions in a single year. Fatalities resulting from these crashes shot up from 275 to 330 in one year, equaling a 20% increase.
It’s likely that a significant percentage of the tens of thousands of motorists involved in accidents described above suffered injuries of varying severities due to their involvement in their collisions.
If you had the misfortune of becoming entangled in a car accident, even if you didn’t think you had really suffered any injuries, would you know what steps to take? And, if you had indeed sustained car accident injuries, what should you do? You definitely shouldn’t just sit by idly. We’ll tackle these questions (and more) below.
When Should You Have an Ambulance Come To Your Crash Scene?
Most individuals involved in motor vehicle accidents know to request that law enforcement come to the scene to make a report but find it challenging to decide how to best answer a police officer’s question about whether they need an ambulance to come to check them out.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has compiled a list of when motorists should summon paramedics to their crash scene. These instances include when motorists:
- Don’t have a pulse or aren’t breathing
- Appear to have sustained significant physical trauma
- Are displaying stroke symptoms
- Show signs that they’re in cardiac arrest
- Are profusely bleeding
- Could have potentially suffered a spinal cord injury
ACEP notes that motorists who don’t feel that they’re capable of safely driving themselves to the emergency room (ER), even if they’re not showing the symptoms above, should allow paramedics to come check them out and transport them by ambulance if necessary, too.
One detail motorists should keep in mind if they’re considering calling an ambulance is how long it can take to get to them in heavily congested downtown areas or rural ones. An injured motorist’s health can significantly deteriorate as their wait lingers on. Thus, considering other options other than awaiting the arrival of paramedics may make sense, depending on the nature of the injuries.
It’s not uncommon for a lawyer on our team here at The Mejia Law Firm to see where many injured motorists take their post-crash medical care into their own hands. You have many options to choose from when doing that. How do you decide?
How Does Care Offered by Different Doctors Post-Crash Vary?
Even if you don’t feel that you’re hurt and choose not to have paramedics come to the scene of your crash, then you should still see a doctor soon after your accident. You will want to do so to ensure that you don’t have any internal brain trauma, organ damage, bleeding, or other issues that aren’t yet giving off physical symptoms but will rear their ugly head later on when they’ve already left behind irreversible damage.
Determining which type of physician to see, whether a primary care, specialist, urgent care, or emergency room doctor, can be challenging. We’ll describe different scenarios in which you may want to go see one physician versus another after your crash.
Primary Care Physician
You may feel relatively fine after your crash. Or you may feel a little beat up from having tensed up your body as you awaited the collision’s impact. You may also feel some lingering discomfort from the seat belt pressing into your body as it shifted forward in the crash. You may want to see your primary care physician (PCP) in these situations.
They can check your vitals, range of motion, and for other indicators to confirm that you’re doing as well as you may seem. And if for some reason your PCP suspects anything is awry, they can order a blood test, X-rays, and other diagnostic imaging, testing, or refer you to a specialist.
Urgent Care Physicians
Car accident victims who reject the summoning of an ambulance when at an accident scene who fear something’s a bit off will often go to an urgent care facility after their crash to be checked out.
Individuals who’ve been hurt in car accidents often choose to go to a health care facility like this when they don’t believe that their potential injuries are bad enough to warrant them going to the emergency room. Some car accident victims who don’t have a PCP or can’t get in to see them immediately are also seen at urgent care facilities.
Urgent care facilities are generally open for extended hours and have some testing and imaging equipment necessary to help rule out certain diagnoses. Doctors working at these facilities tend to be well-accustomed to seeing patients immediately following accidents and, thus, have more experience knowing what to ask to ensure nothing serious is going on.
It’s not uncommon for physicians at these facilities to summon an ambulance to take a patient to a nearby hospital if a patient presents with a life-threatening condition beyond their facility’s capacity to treat.
Emergency Room Doctors
While some individuals hurt in car accidents may not initially show signs of injury, others do. Injury symptoms may range from functional impairments, including physical or cognitive ones, to:
- Loss of consciousness
- Acute pain
- Visual acuity issues
- Fractured bones
- Breathing difficulties
It’s imperative that you see a doctor in any of the above-referenced situations. However, you shouldn’t assume that you’re in the clear if you’re not experiencing symptoms of distress or that the ones you are feeling will dissipate.
Car accident victims who have suffered brain bleeds from hitting their head on the dashboard or steering wheel, or internal organ damage from the impact or seat belt, for example, may not immediately be symptomatic. However, their bodies may show signs of distress in the hours or days post-incident. Any damage done may be irreversible at that point. That’s why patients involved in particularly violent crashes must see doctors right away after them.
Doctors who specialize in treating a specific condition, body part, or system are referred to as specialists.
Many of these physicians require referrals from a PCP to see patients. They do so because they want to ensure that any other potential ailments have been ruled out or more conservative treatment options have been exhausted before seeing patients for more focused care.
Specialists generally have not only completed additional training on specific body parts or systems but are also surgeons who will know when a situation requires more aggressive care than medications or physical therapy can provide.
Most individuals injured in car accidents will initially see one of the aforementioned physicians for an evaluation or triage and allow them to provide referrals for more specialized care per their doctors’ recommendations.
When Should You Bring an Attorney Into Your Auto Accident Case?
Individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents often find themselves busy, running around, trying to get medical treatment and their cars fixed after their crash. Adding one more thing to their plate, which is dealing with insurance company adjusters, is often too much to handle on top of their pre-collision obligations.
Your focus needs to follow the treatment plan that your doctors lay out for you. Insurer calls and letters stop coming to you and instead start going to your lawyer once you hire legal counsel. This will free your time and alleviate your stress so that you can focus on getting better.
Also, there are certain steps you need to take to protect the integrity of your case if you’ve suffered injuries in an accident. An attorney can advise you of ways in which you need to be mindful of your actions post-crash.
Initiate contact with The Mejia Law Firm by sharing a few brief details about your accident and injuries. We’ll then schedule a meeting to share details about the legal rights Texas law affords, specifically related to recovering compensation for your accident-related injuries and other losses.