When to See a Doctor After a Car Accident

Top view, hands or doctor checking watch in hospital schedule, late appointment or medical biometrics. Woman, stethoscope or clock time in healthcare wellness visit, annual consulting or clinic visit

Do I Have to See a Car Accident Doctor and When Should I?

After suffering serious injuries from a car crash, your top priority should always be to schedule an exam with a car accident doctor. Failing to do this will have severe complications, like the state of your injuries developing into a permanent problem with long-term health consequences.

Additionally, a delay in seeking medical treatment will also negatively impact your personal injury claim. Ultimately, the more time is put off to see a doctor, the weaker the case will become. 

Therefore, schedule an examination no later than 72 hours (3 days) after the car accident. Waiting any longer than that can jeopardize a personal injury claim. A Newport Beach car accident attorney can assist in pairing you with the right type of doctor and specialist. 


What Kind of Car Accident Doctor Should I See?

Car accidents can result in a myriad of injury types, leaving victims to wonder if seeking medical attention is necessary, as well as which type of doctor to seek treatment from. The type of doctor will depend on the type and severity of injuries and may include the following options.

Emergency Room Doctors

An "Emergency" Sign in front of a hospital in the early eveningIn the aftermath of a serious auto accident, especially one resulting in life-threatening injuries, car accident victims may be taken to the emergency room (ER) by ambulance or on the victim’s own accord, should injuries appear serious. 

These medical professionals specialize in providing immediate care, stabilizing patients, and treating a wide range of traumatic injuries, such as blunt force trauma, internal bleeding, or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), alongside other critical health concerns. 

Trauma surgeons who work in the emergency room focus on ensuring a patient’s condition is stabilized and determining the most appropriate next steps, which may involve further treatment within the emergency department or referral to a specialist.

Urgent Care Doctor

Hospital, healthcare and medical with an empty corridor for wellness, care or treatment and disease control. Medicine, service and hallway of a lobby in a clinic for rehabilitation or recoveryFor non-life-threatening injuries, seeking medical attention promptly is still crucial for optimal healing and to rule out any unforeseen complications. 

Urgent care clinics can be a convenient option in such cases. These facilities often have extended hours and allow walk-in appointments, making them readily accessible.

During the appointment, it’s important to provide a detailed account of the current physical and mental state, indicating any pain or discomfort, as well as how the accident has impacted daily life. 

The doctor will perform a physical examination and may recommend additional tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis, essential for receiving the most appropriate treatment plan.

Primary Care Doctor

Laptop, stethoscope and doctor writing in notebook for research planning or medical tech innovation in hospital office. Healthcare medic worker, research strategy book notes and online communication

Consulting a primary care physician (PCP) may be an option, as they have a comprehensive understanding of medical history. This is beneficial in diagnoses and further treatment plans. 

However, due to insurance policies and complexities with paperwork, it is not uncommon for PCPs to not treat auto accident victims.

Primary care physicians are only set up to bill patients out-of-pocket or through their own personal health insurance provider, not through insurance companies.

If a primary care doctor refuses treatment, experienced personal injury attorneys can help get clients set up with the most appropriate doctors and specialists.

If medical treatment is not sought on the same day as the incident, an appointment with a doctor should still be set up as soon as possible. Although a primary care physician may not treat regular patients, they can refer them to trusted specialists.


Medical Hospital: Neurologist and Neurosurgeon Talk, Use Computer, Analyse Patient MRI Scan, Diagnose Brain. Brain Surgery Health Clinic Lab: Two Professional Physicians Look at CT Scan. Close-upThis may eventually be required based on initial medical exams. Following an auto accident, a doctor treating car accident victims may recommend further evaluation by a radiologist.

This is where radiologists, medical professionals specializing in interpreting these tests, become crucial. They utilize X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, and ultrasounds to visualize complications and identify potential injuries.

From broken bones and soft tissue damage to internal organ injuries, these scans provide a clearer understanding of the victim’s internal condition. The radiologist will then meticulously analyze the results and collaborate with the main treating doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.


man exercising with dumbbells and stretching straps smiling in hospital department with orthopedic doctor helps do physical therapy, physical therapy in the clinic.In cases involving bone or joint injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, or other trauma, car accident victims may be referred to an orthopedic specialist. They diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including:



  • Broken bones
  • Bone fractures
  • Torn muscles or ligaments
  • Neck sprains and injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Dislocation
  • Muscle strains

These types of physicians specialize in the musculoskeletal system, encompassing bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to promote healing and restore function.


Medical experts studies the EEG condition of the patientCar accidents causing head or spinal trauma may require a neurological consult. Both neurologists and neurosurgeons specialize in the intricate functioning of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. 

However, the areas of expertise for each medical professional differ. Neurologists utilize non-surgical methods to diagnose and manage neurological conditions.

Neurosurgeons perform delicate surgeries to address structural abnormalities or other issues within the nervous system.  

If a neurological evaluation reveals the need for surgical intervention, the neurologist will provide a referral to a qualified neurosurgeon.

Plastic Surgeons

Horizontal view of modern operating room for an x-ray manipulation. Medicine and healthcare theme. Toned blue.Severe injuries involving skin and soft tissue damage may necessitate consultation with a plastic surgeon. These specialists possess the expertise to perform reconstructive and repair procedures, aiming to restore both functionality and cosmetic appearance. 

Simillary, burns, including chemical burns from contact with car fluids or those sustained from a motor vehicle catching fire, can also require reconstructive surgery.

In cases of severe burns, a burn specialist may be involved. These specialists provide comprehensive care for various burn depths, ranging from first-degree to third-degree injuries.

Physical Therapists 

The doctor giving treatment to the woman patient broken leg. Doctor and female patient are discussing at clinicFollowing a car accident, the path to recovery may involve ongoing rehabilitation treatment. The specific specialists will depend on the nature of the injuries.

  • Physical therapists focus on improving physical mobility and addressing functional limitations. 
  • Occupational therapists help patients overcome limitations that hinder their ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). 
  • Vocational therapists specialize in helping individuals with disabilities or impairments return to the workforce.  

Ultimately, a multi-disciplinary approach to rehabilitation, incorporating physical, occupational, and potentially vocational therapy, can be instrumental in maximizing functional recovery.


Office of massage therapist in modern medical centerWhile the absence of immediate pain after a car accident can be reassuring, it’s important to remember that many injuries, particularly those affecting soft tissues and the musculoskeletal system, might not be readily visible. 

This emphasizes the importance of seeking a thorough medical evaluation even in the absence of obvious signs. Chiropractors can be a valuable resource in such cases. 

Their expertise lies in diagnosing and treating a range of soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries, which are common consequences of car accidents.  


The Consequences of Not Seeing a Doctor After Car Accidents

frustrated injured victim

Through the years, Orange County has recorded thousands of motor vehicle accidents resulting in serious car accident injuries and unfortunate fatalities. 

After an accident, it would appear obvious to seek medical treatment. However, It is a common behavior amongst people–not just in Southern California but throughout the US, as well– to bypass seeing a doctor. Typically, this is because people believe that they are fine after an accident.

It’s important to understand that soft tissue injuries and traumatic brain injuries can start showing signs and symptoms hours or sometimes days after an auto accident. A soft tissue injury may heal on its own, but lingering symptoms of discomfort may take months to recover from.

If left untreated, a traumatic brain injury can lead to permanent damage, affect motor functions, and even result in death. 

While this is not completely implausible for injuries to heal on their own, untreated injuries can heal improperly. A broken bone or fracture, for example, can grow back crooked and cause lifelong chronic pain.

Sometimes delayed injuries may even result in long-term disabilities or even death. Therefore, what may appear to be a minor injury can get worse if not promptly treated by medical professionals. Therefore, injured victims should not wait to see a doctor for medical help.


Benefits of Seeing a Doctor After a Car Accident

Fountain pen and check of maximum settlement amount

In the United States, speeding has been involved in nearly 30% of all fatal car accidents, spanning two decades. It’s also currently the leading contributing factor in traffic collisions. 

In Newport Beach, CA, speeding has accounted for over 130 crashes that resulted in injuries and death.

While some collisions may result in minor injuries, others are the catalyst to permanent disability or lifelong ailments. This is why it is always strongly recommended to seek immediate medical attention following a car crash. Three of the most significant benefits of seeing a car accident doctor include the following.

1.  Protect Car Accident Victims from Permanent or Fatal Injury

Any aches or pains after being involved in an accident cannot be ignored. Always seek medical care, even for the mildest discomfort. While the pain may not feel aggressive right away, it is still advisable to see a doctor to rule out any underlying issues. Doing so rectifies any future issues or complications.

Additionally, car accident victims are granted peace of mind knowing that their health is being taken care of. Some hidden injuries, like a pierced organ or TBIs, have the potential to become fatal, so it is always advisable to be examined by a qualified specialist. 

2. A Doctor Can Be Your Ally in Insurance Claims

When filing a personal injury claim, the insurance company will ask for several pieces of information to assess the claim. 

This includes a medical report with details about the sustained injuries, such as the diagnosis, treatment plan, and cost of treatment. Without this, a value cannot be placed on the claim, and compensation cannot be granted. 

Additionally, waiting to see a physician can be perceived as not being in enough pain to get help and therefore indicating that a car accident injury was not sustained. At least, this is the counterargument that the insurance company will present.

Another accusation that could be made is that the victim’s failure to seek medical treatment is what caused the injury to progress or worsen. 

3. Maximize Compensation for a Car Accident Claim

The insurance company of the at-fault driver will be liable for paying back damages to the car accident victim. 

However, this process will be a challenge, because insurance adjusters are known to reduce claim values, paying back as little as possible. If successful in these efforts, car accident victims will be left paying for remaining medical bills and future medical costs. 

Seeing a doctor immediately after an accident allows for more opportunities to record every stage in the diagnosis and treatment process. This will prevent insurance companies from attempting to discredit or undermine the severity of reported injuries.

Ensure timely medical attention to prevent further injury and to begin documenting the injuries as close to the incident as possible. This detailed record will help strengthen the claim so that full and fair compensation can be recovered. 


Beach Accident Attorneys Can Help You Find Prompt Medical Care

Contact Us | Beach Accident Attorneys

A car accident in California that is the cause of another party’s negligence entitles victims to compensation for sustained injuries and any other damages.

Newport Beach car accident attorneys can assist in these types of personal injury cases by providing expert legal aid and assisting in getting injured clients paired with the best doctors in Orange County.

Even if you feel fine after an accident, see a doctor to rule out any underlying issues. To learn more, contact our award-winning legal team in Newport Beach

Beach Accident Attorneys maintains a 99% success rate, and we offer a free consultation to get started. Call us today.

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