If you have suffered an injury in a car accident, it is imperative that you seek medical attention. The process of diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming and time-consuming. You will most likely get in touch with a number of different medical specialists depending on the type and severity of injuries you have suffered.
Settlements can also vary depending on the severity of your damages, but even if an injury doesn’t appear to be very serious immediately following the accident, it might cost you years of stress and pain if you don’t act quickly.
It can be complicated to navigate the legal and medical systems on your own — but you don’t have to.
A personal injury attorney that spends time on car and truck accident cases can guide you through the process of getting the compensation and care you deserve.
Emergency care physician (1)
Following a car accident, it is most likely that the first doctor you will see will be an emergency care physician. Their main goal is to ensure that you are not seriously injured and that you don’t have life-threatening injuries. They will check your vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and breathing rate. They will then examine you more thoroughly for injuries and take a detailed history of the car accident and your injuries. After that, you will need to get some diagnostic procedures done.
In most cases, X-rays are required to ensure that there are no fractured or dislocated bones or joints.
In more severe trauma cases, CT scans will be ordered. A CT is frequently completed for head injuries. They can also be used to confirm the presence of injured organs in the abdomen, chest, or injured spine.
An ultrasound is usually done in case of abdominal injuries.
In the case of major wounds or solid organ injuries, blood will be drawn and analyzed for the severity of bleeding. Emergency care physicians are trained to provide treatment for a vast majority of injuries. However, in case of any more serious injury, you can expect that your ER doctor will consult another specialist in order to get the best treatment option for you.
Orthopedic surgeon (2)
The orthopedic surgeon treats injuries to the extremities and most cases of spinal injury. Some extremity injuries will be treated in the ER after the injury, but your orthopedic surgeon will take care of the follow-ups.
Sprains and strains usually resolve within a few weeks and leave no long-term consequences. However, ligament tears can cause instability in the joints, which have to be treated by an orthopedic surgeon, often with surgery.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries following a car accident. Orthopedic surgeons usually treat patients after whiplash, but the treatment process can take a very long time and many patients continue to experience some discomfort even months after the initial injury.
Fractures are another category of injury treated by orthopedic surgeons. Treatment options will depend on the type of fracture and affected bone, the age of the patient, their general health, and other associated injuries. Fractures without displacement or with minor displacement can usually be treated with a cast that will be used for a few weeks, depending on the injured bone.
Bone fractures with displacement of bone fragments, open fractures, and fractures of the joints usually require surgery. Plates, screws, wires, external fixators, and endoprosthesis are tools used by orthopedic surgeons to treat bone fractures.
Neurologists are usually consulted after a car accident if the patient has a concussion or complains of persistent headaches. These can be accompanied by whiplash symptoms. In this case, the patient usually complains of neck pain with radiation to the back of the head. However, sometimes the patient will have headaches located in other parts of the head. The role of a neurologist is to provide therapy options.
Neurosurgeons are medical doctors specializing in the treatment of brain and spine conditions. If you ever need a neurosurgeon’s consultation after a car accident, you have likely suffered a major injury.
Neurosurgeons are usually consulted after head CTs show the presence of a brain injury or bleeding in the brain. Treatment options will depend on the type of injury. Some brain injuries require urgent surgery to relieve deadly pressure on the brain. In this case, the neurosurgeon will drill a small opening in the skull and remove blood to reduce pressure on the brain.
Some hospitals have neurosurgeons trained to treat spine injuries. However, in most cases, orthopedic surgeons treat spinal trauma.
General, abdominal and thoracic surgeon (5,6,7)
Injury of the abdomen or thorax may require the attention of an abdominal or general surgeon or a thoracic surgeon. This type of injury in car accidents usually occurs after blunt trauma. In most cases, the patient hits the steering wheel or seat in front of them.
An ultrasound can show the presence of fluid inside the abdomen or chest. A CT will confirm this, and it can also show the exact location of the injury. Liver and spleen injuries are the usual causes of intra-abdominal bleeding. The kidneys, intestines, or other organs are less frequently affected.
Even mild cases can turn severe in a matter of hours, unfortunately leading to situations where hiring a wrongful death lawyer — rather than a lawyer for brain and spinal injuries or personal injuries — becomes necessary.
Trauma of thorax or abdomen requires surgical intervention. The surgeon will check the abdominal cavity, find the source of bleeding and stop it.
Plastic surgeon (8)
Plastic surgeons are less commonly consulted after car accidents. However, in cases of tendon ruptures, major skin defects, or wounds located on the face, they can be involved in the treatment process. Additionally, if the accident causes loss of function of a certain muscle or muscle groups (for example, after nerve injuries), plastic surgeons can help with tendon transfers. They can also transfer muscles and skin to cover major wounds and tissue defects caused by car accidents.
Physical therapy, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist (9)
Physical therapy doctors are usually consulted when there is a need for rehabilitation. They can help bring the range of motion of joints back to normal. This is especially important after surgeries or treatment of fractures using casts. Physical therapy can also reduce pain and swelling. This type of treatment can last for a long period of time. It is not unusual for patients to have months of physical therapy treatments after major car accidents and injuries. Often, this type of treatment is combined with chiropractic and acupuncture treatment, mostly commonly after spine injuries.
Major trauma is the main cause of PTSD. A car accident can cause severe psychological trauma. This is common in car accidents with fatalities or major injuries. It is important to include a psychologist in the recovery process to help the patient learn healthy ways to cope with trauma and prevent psychological issues.
Just as you shouldn’t delay in seeking medical help from any number of these medical specialists, you shouldn’t wait to contact an auto accident law firm about your case. Doing so may mean the difference between getting your life back on track after a personal injury or trying to deal with mounting medical bills, missed work, and no financial compensation after your accident.
Not only is seeking medical attention vital for your own health and treatment, but also for providing evidence and documentation for your auto accident lawyer.
A attorney for personal injury can advise you on your rights within the Commonwealth of Virginia and help you get the compensation you deserve.