The first medical treatment is usually provided by the fire department or ambulance at the scene of the crash. Please remember that their immediate job is to triage. Triage includes preventing the loss of life or serious injury by immediate preventative measures.
A few examples would be to stop an artery from bleeding out, or to stabilize the neck to prevent from being paralyzed. If there is any possibility of this, no matter how remote, you should not take any chances by assuming “the best”. In this situation, until it has been completely ruled out by all the necessary health care providers, assume the worst.
Again, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This applies to everyone at the scene of the crash with any possibility of serious injury or death.
Medical treatment in the emergency room should follow this same safety rule. You should tell the health care professionals every scratch, harm, bruise, or pain location you have, so it can be documented.
Current Florida Law requires a determination of an emergency medical condition before some of your Florida vehicle coverages will apply. Thorough documentation will help with that determination by your insurance company, and others, if required. This will also help with future medical care and the determination of injuries caused by the crash.
A rule of medical documentation used in many medical malpractice cases applies here: If it is not written down, it did not happen.
You should also read your discharge instructions from the emergency room carefully and follow them. Keep in mind that emergency room physicians often see their job as just to triage your situation as the ambulance providers noted above.
Do not assume that the emergency room physician has made a complete and exhaustive review of all of your symptoms. You should immediately follow up with your family physician who knows you best.
Due to adrenaline or the nature of the harm from a crash or injury, the full extent of the pain does not make itself known until days, weeks, or months following the incident. It is important during this time to be examined by a health care provider, so they can document and keep a close eye on how you are doing. This helps your doctor direct you to immediate care and treatment and in proving causation of harm from a crash.
This should not be ignored by assuming this would not happen to you. The failure to do this has resulted in countless difficulties in proving caused harm that could have otherwise been easily prevented. So do not hesitate in seeking care and treatment and evaluation, even if the harm is not immediate from the crash or injury. Trained and skilled physicians know the importance of letting them make these care decisions and not those of us who lack their knowledge.
During this time, you should also be keeping a journal of your daily pains and losses. Also photograph any scratches and bruises, no matter how minor. It is helpful to have a family member assist you if injuries prevent you from doing this. If you have any difficulties or limitations in anything you were doing before the crash or injury, now is the time to document those in a diary, video, or photographs.
If you have to pay anyone for their assistance during this time, make sure to keep records of the name, address, phone number of the person providing help. Keep receipts of payments for their help.
You should contact all insurance companies who may be responsible for paying your bills. This includes your automobile insurance, health insurance, workers compensation insurance, Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid, and any others. Each of them will have forms for you to fill out. They prefer that you contact them as soon as possible. Insurance companies may request that it be by mail, phone, or email.
In some cases, multiple companies may share responsibility in paying your medical bills. Please remember that most will have the right to be paid back out of any recovery against the person causing the harm. You will need to keep all communication from those responsible for paying your medical bills addressing their right of recovery. You need to bring these letters with you when you see us at your first visit.
You should also keep a record of all mileage to and from all treatment.