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Should you always go to the ER after a car accident?

Whether you saw it coming or not, before you finish registering the sound of the crunch of metal, your vehicle is violently tossed around. In the next couple of moments, your brain tells you that you were just in an accident.

Still confused, you begin to assess whether you suffered any injuries, but with your adrenaline pumping and the shock of the crash, you can't be sure. Unless you see blood and feel pain, you may not realize the extent of your injuries for some time.

Do you need to go to the emergency room?

Deciding to go to the nearest emergency room may not be up to you. When emergency medical personnel arrive and assess your condition, they may make the decision for you. However, if your injuries do not appear serious enough for that immediately after the crash, you may get to choose. The problem is that even in a low speed crash, you could suffer serious injuries and not know it. The symptoms of some injuries could take hours or days to appear, and by that time, your condition could be serious.

The easy answer is to always seek medical attention after an accident, but does that always mean going to an ER? Perhaps you could call your primary physician and make an appointment for the earliest time available. After the initial shock wears off, you could begin to experience pain. If that happens, then going to the ER right away may be a good idea, especially if the pain is in your head, neck or back.

Going to the doctor serves more than one purpose

The primary purpose of seeking medical attention is to make sure you did not suffer serious injuries, but it serves another purpose as well. If the other driver caused the crash and you intend to seek compensation, you need to start keeping a medical paper trail immediately. Documenting your injuries as soon as possible helps ensure that the other driver and the insurance companies involved cannot say your injuries were not caused by the accident.

Don't take chances. See a doctor even if you don't think you are hurt. Then, learn about your legal options for payment of your medical bills.

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