The Definitive 2019 Guide:
How to Find a Doctor After a Car Accident
The Importance of Choosing the Right Doctors to Treat and Document Your Injuries –
This is a guide on how to find a doctor after a car accident.
If you are injured and need to see a doctor, there are a few things that you need to know.
It’s important to go to the right injury doctors and even MORE important to avoid the wrong doctors.
Quick Summary on Choosing the Best Doctor After a Car Accident:
- Do Not Wait to Find a Doctor – Find one Immediately
- Do Not Rely on Your Primary Care Doctor
- Avoid Doctors from Legal Referral Services
- Find a Specialist that Treats Your Specific Types of Injuries
- Make sure the Doctor Knows how Personal Injury Cases Work
- Tell All of your Doctors about any and all of your Current and Previous Injuries or Conditions
- Treat Regularly with your Doctor until you reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement)
Do Not Rely on Your Primary Care Physician
Most people think they should call their primary care doctor after an accident.
Although your primary care doctor is probably an excellent physician, there are two huge reasons why you shouldn’t rely on them as your main treating doctor.
Firstly, Accident Injuries are Not their Area of Focus
Your primary care doctor probably doesn’t want to get involved in treating accident injuries.
They focus his or her care on patients who have internal medical conditions – rather than on spinal injuries, concussions, broken bones, and such things.
Your primary care physician will likely refer you out to a specialist.
However, I suggest that after an accident you call your primary care doctor.
Tell them about your injuries and see if they will even see you for them.
They probably will tell you to see a specialist and explain how to find a doctor after a car accident that can treat your specific problems.
Secondly, Medical Records Determine the Value of Your Claim
Your medical records will be one of the most important parts of determining the value of your claim.
When a demand is made, the insurance company will read your medical records.
Based on what your records say, they will set a value for your claim.
Have You Ever Seen Your Own Medical Chart?
Your medical chart probably has one or two things the doctor wrote by hand about what you told them was bothering you.
Or with electronic medical records, (which you almost never get to see) it has checkboxes and short sentences about your conditions.
This is What Will be Used to Value Your Case:
So, imagine for a moment if your primary care doctor records say “patient has neck stiffness, headaches, and numbness in the right arm. Proscribed Flexeril, and rest.”
That is all good and fine and the insurance company will set a value for your claim based upon this limited information.
The insurance company knows that knowing how to find a doctor after a car accident isn’t common knowledge and many people make this mistake.
Primary Care Doctors VS Specialists
Now, imagine you went to a specialist or two for your injuries.
These include doctors such as orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, physiatrists, chiropractors, or any other qualified injury doctor.
Below is a list of what they write in their records about your injuries after an accident.
This is What Will be Used to Value Your Case:
- Detailed history of what happened to you in the accident
- Detailed history about any pre-existing injuries or conditions you may have
- List numerous types of medical tests they performed such as range of motion, nerve compression tests, etc
- If they ordered specialized MRI’s, X-rays, digital motion X-rays, etc
- Prescriptions to physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, etc
- If they sent you to other specialists who may evaluate you for surgery, or pain management
- Key information about what caused your injuries, such as the car crash and if it aggravated your pre-existing injuries
- They explain whether your injuries are “permanent” or not, if you will have them for the rest of your life or not
- What your future medical needs will be for the rest of your life
- Impairment ratings: What effect your injuries will have on your ability to work, enjoy life, or perform daily activities
You Need a Specialist so the Insurance Company Can Accurately Value Your Case
With all of this detailed information about how the accident has caused you harms, losses, and injuries, the insurance company will be able to justify paying you much more for your injuries.
All of the important details have been documented in writing for them to see.
And unfortunately, no matter how great your primary care physician is, they are not equipped to document your medical problems with the detail and specifics that are SO important for an insurance claim.
How to Find a Doctor After a Car Accident
Try to find a doctor who specializes in treating your specific type of injury.
Do not rely on your primary care doctor to treat or diagnose any of your injuries.
You need injury doctors who understand the importance of documenting the causes and long-term effects of your injuries in your medical records.
Most primary care doctors do not include all the vital information that need to be in your medical records.
Some doctors don’t understand because they don’t specialize in injuries.
It’s extremely important to know how to find a doctor after a car accident to treat you properly.
Avoid Doctors from Legal Referral Services
Avoid injury doctors that work with legal referral services.
They usually specialize in using up your no-fault PIP insurance benefits more than focusing on treating your injuries.
They Will Decrease the Case Value and Steal Your PIP Insurance
These referral services tend to have a bad reputation with the insurance industry.
When your medical records come from these injury mills, the insurance company will likely offer you less money.
This is because they just don’t believe all of the stuff when it comes from Ask Gary or 411 Pain.
If your case has to go to trial, you can bet the insurance defense lawyer will make a big deal about your doctor working for Ask Gary or 411 Pain.
I can tell you that I have seen juries roll their eyes when they hear about these injury mills.
So be sure to avoid legal referral services like 411 Pain and Ask Gary.
Tell Doctors About ALL Prior Injuries
Make sure you tell your injury doctors about all your previous injuries or conditions from the past.
Hiding pre-existing injuries or conditions will hurt your credibility and your recovery.
If you bring an injury claim and don’t tell your doctors about previous injuries, the insurance company will make you out to be a liar.
Otherwise, Insurance Companies Will Say You aren’t Truthful
Insurance companies will say since you didn’t tell your doctors about prior injuries, then you cannot be trusted.
They will also say you were trying to manipulate your doctor by holding back that you had a prior complaint 20 years ago about your neck, or whatever happened to you.
Pre-Existing Injuries Help Your Case, Not Hurt It
I tell people all the time:
Don’t be afraid of a pre-existing condition.
You should brag about them.
Almost everyone has some sort of pre-existing injury.
People with pre-existing injuries are easier to hurt and harder to fix.
In the state of Florida, people with pre-existing injuries are entitled to more recovery, not less.
So, if you make sure you tell everyone about any pre-existing injury, then your doctors can deal with it, and you sound much more believable to an insurance company or a jury.
Treatment with Your Doctor
It is very important to keep all of your doctor appointments because you don’t want any gaps in treatment.
Gaps in treatment decrease the value of your claim and decrease your chances of recovering from your injuries.
Knowing how to find a doctor after a car accident is only half the battle.
Gaps in Treatment Will Destroy Your Claim
If your doctor documents that you will need future care in the future to help maintain your health –
and then you stop going to your doctor appointments –
then no one will pay you for your future medical needs.
Hurt People Seek Treatment: If you Don’t Treat, You Must Not be Hurt
Why would a judge or a jury give you money to go to a doctor in the future when you are not going now?
So allowing big gaps in your treatment will create big gaps in your settlement.
Treat now or forever hold your peace.
Read more about how gaps in treatment kill your case by clicking here.
Saving Evidence for the Jury is Important
Help your attorney with your case by saving evidence for the jury if your case goes to trial.
When treating with injury doctors, save any and all empty pill bottles.
Save over-the-counter pill bottles too because they are great proof of how the injury affected you.
The quantity of medications you take over time for an injury is important evidence to show a jury.
Don’t Wait to Find a Doctor – Go Right Away (3 Reasons)
#1: The Insurance Company Will Say Something Else Caused Your Injuries
First, by going to a doctor immediately, you prevent the insurance company from saying:
“Hey, wait a minute –
If the person was hurt so badly, why didn’t they go to the emergency room or doctor right away?”
Adrenaline After a Car Accident Will Mask Injuries
Sure, you were thinking that you were okay, that you would be fine, that the aches and pains would go away.
But unfortunately they did not.
So now you have this gap in between the moment of the accident and your first medical record.
Then the Insurance Company Will Call You a Liar
The insurance company will harp on this.
They will suggest that you were injured somewhere else, not from this accident.
It will hurt your credibility throughout the case because they will constantly come back to this fact.
#2: Injuries Without Immediate Care Can Prevent You from Fully Recovering
Second, by waiting, you are guessing.
By guessing about your injuries, you are hoping that you will feel better, but you may be making your injuries worse by failing to get proper treatment right away.
Immediate care can make a BIG difference in your final outcome.
You Can Reduce Internal Scar Tissue and Pressure from Building
By proper care you may help reduce internal scar tissue damage to your ligaments and muscles.
You might have pressure taken off of nerves and prevent further radiculopathy (radiating nerve damage) in your arms or legs.
You may have tests done like MRI of your spine to get you to a spinal surgeon before you cause irreversible nerve loss.
#3: You Risk Waiving Your $10,000 of PIP Benefits
Third, if you are in a car accident, and you don’t seek treatment in the first 14 days, then you may waive your PIP no-fault benefits.
If you don’t see a doctor in time, you will waive $10,000 in benefits to treat your injuries.
What If You Can’t Afford a Doctor
If you are seriously injured, go to the hospital.
When you have PIP insurance, they will bill your car insurance.
If you are a passenger in someone else’s car, or you are a pedestrian, you may be entitled to the PIP from the car you were riding in or hit by.
Some Doctors Will Wait to be Paid At the End
There are some doctors who will treat you and if you have a good lawyer, the doctors will wait until the end of your insurance claim to be paid.
This is called an Insurance Security Agreement.
This is basically a contract between you, your doctor and your lawyer where your lawyer agrees to hold back settlement money until the doctor’s bill is paid.
How a Lawyer Can Help You and Your Doctors
In catastrophic injury cases, lawyers hire experts who help document and quantify future medical needs for our injured clients.
These experts are usually medical doctors who spend a great deal of time meeting with the client, measuring and evaluating their injuries and conditions.
Then they prepare a “Life Care Plan.”
How a Life Care Plan Can Accurately Value Your Claim
A life care plan is basically an accurate prediction of the types of health care needs that are reasonably medically certain to happen.
Their job is to make sure that all sorts of items are considered and not forgotten in predicting future care.
They consider things such as:
- special equipment,
- future testing and evaluations,
- how long equipment lasts before it need to be replaced,
- costs for home care,
- and palliative care – just to name a few things.
They basically create a shopping list of things that will be needed for the rest of the person’s life.
It is an important job, because if they leave off something, then the person will go without it.
The Negligent Driver Should Pay, Not the Tax Payers
Or, the taxpayers will have to pay the bill for future medical needs. It is important that the person who caused the wrong pay for it and not the taxpayers.
How Vocational Experts Can Help Value Your Case
In many cases we hire vocational experts whose job it is to explain how injuries have affected our client’s ability to work in the past and more importantly in the future.
These experts are usually Ph.D.s who have focused their work on measuring work capacity and the losses associated with injuries
Your Doctors and a Vocational Expert Will Calculate Your Total Losses
These experts come to court and explain in detail and answer questions about how injuries make it harder for some people to get hired, or if they have a job, they may not get raises or promotions, or the injuries may shorten their work life.
Our vocational experts will often talk with the client’s treating doctors, review the medical records, interview and test our client for strengths and weaknesses in their ability to perform duties on the job.
They will create a report and then be asked to come to court to explain their findings to the jury.
Local Doctors Our Clients Prefer
Below is a map of all the local doctors our clients have liked treating with over the years.
Feel free to look around and see if any specialists practice near you.
If you have treated with any doctors after a car accident that you think we should add or remove, feel free to let us know.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the quality of your doctors has a significant effect on the value of your injury case.
You should talk with your lawyer and make sure that you are comfortable with your doctors’ care and treatment.
As well as the documentation that is required to assist you and your injury case.
If you need help on how to find a doctor after a car accident for specific injuries, remember to turn to specialists –
Not your primary care physician.
27 thoughts on “How to Find a Doctor After a Car Accident (The Real Story)”
Good morning Mr. Powell,
Please excuse my reluctance on calling you, but
due to extreme misrepresentation and mistrust with
my legal system, I have found a glisten of hope when
I found you via the internet.
The defendants attorney has been excessively
eager for me to settle especially when she noticed that
I no longer obtained a lawyer.
She even made unprofessional statements about that
attorney because she worked under him.
I work night shift as an LPN. I am also a decorated veteran
who once believed that I could trust my judicial system. At present,
I don’t believe that to be true.
Since the accident occurred I have been in chronic pain and
told I would never be the same again. My injuries are life altering
to say the least. I didn’t expect for ” this ever to happen to me”catastrophe.
Thank you in advance for listening.
I am shocked that you recommend that I not see my regular physician after a car accident. I understand that traumatic injuries may not be his specialty, but won’t my insurance get upset if I go straight to a specialist? Hopefully, it would just turn out like you suggest it will, I would call and my doctor would refer me to a specialist.
Thank you for your question. Quite frankly, your primary care physician may be frustrated if they can’t do anything for you except prescribe medication. They will likely send you to a specialist right away. I would not be as concerned about your insurance companies feelings as getting the right type of medical treatment as soon as possible to help you recover fully. But to be on the safe side, call your doctor, call your insurance company, and explain what is going on. Ask them to help you get to a specialist as quickly as possible. They may be able to direct you to the most appropriate doctor for your health care needs. I hope you make a full recovery from your injuries. Let me know if you have any other questions.
I completely agree. We have this issue in Georgia. Primary care Physicians in most cases won’t even see someone who has been injured in a car accident. In most auto accident cases, people go to the ER , get some scripts and then get sent home. The ER may tell them to do a follow up with their PC in three days, but usually they won’t see them unless they pay out of pocket. We dont have PIP. Well written Attorney Powell
My brother recently injured his knee in a car accident. He’s looking for a good orthopaedic surgeon that can fix the issue quickly. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a doctor that has the expertise to diagnose the injury properly. I’ll be sure to share this info with my brother.
My fiance was recently injured in an accident and needs a car accident injury examination. I liked your advice to tell the doctor about all prior injuries so that he can better examine the patient. This will make the process a lot easier and not as difficult.
why should we stay clear of Legal Referrals?? and what is a legal referral to you?
my understanding is a Network of Doctors who see clients for injuries. or accept working on a lien for your injury?
My husband was in a vehicle accident in Arkansas. However, we are from southern Indiana. (One hour from Indianapolis or Cincinnati, Ohio line) He suffered whiplash and was treated at the hospital directly from the scene. Within 48 hrs he began to have terrible hip pain. We have had X-ray, MRI performed and paid out of pocket for an orthopedic consult to get some type of answers on diagnosis. The problem is the orthopedic specialist will not take our insurance due to it being from an accident. It is always the first question on the registration forms “did this injury occur from a car accident “…..then it’s cash only!!! We can not find a reputable orthopedic surgeon because he will need a total hip replacement. The driver of the other vehicle was under the influence and did have insurance coverage. All good things in our favor, yet we can’t find a surgeon ….or one we feel is reputable. Please help!!
Hire an attorney. They can direct you to a doctor who should be able to help your husband.
Thanks for the advice about calling a GP about your accident injuries to see if they will treat them. I was in a car accident, and I’m worried that if I see a specialist for my knee problem that the insurance won’t pay for it. I’ll try to see if my GP will treat it, but if he won’t, I’ll probably need to get a personal injury attorney to help my claim go through with the insurance.
Matt, you are right on with your assessment. Most automobile accident patients I read the medical records of were not given an accurate diagnosis, not had the correct tests ordered, and not given the proper treatment or documentation.
Dr. Steve Lininger, in Virginia.
I would imagine that you would need a doctor for all the paperwork that would need to be submitted to the insurance companies. The doctors would be able to give the proper records and tests needed to defend your case. I’ll have to consider your tips for a doctor if I ever get seriously injured.
So, how should someone find an MD who specializes in personal injury?
In various parts of the country it may be harder than others to find a good doctor for a personal injury case. I suggest you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney in your area for advice on selecting a good doctor who knows how to keep good records and is willing to help you in court if that is required. Good Luck. Matt
The other driver pulled out in front of me and I hit her, deploying 6 airbags, June 2018. I was horribly bruised and sore for my ribs and throat (seat belt) just over 30 years ago, I was rear ended and had whiplash from an accident. Neck was extremely stiff off and on throughout the years. After this accident, I was seen by my chiropractor and treated for pain based on bone issues. A month or so later, I had pinched nerves around the 3rd-5th vertebrae issue debilitating pain. Nerve pain, as I found out – does not respond to medication. So, I just cried through it. Once it was over, it never returned to the same intensity and in the meantime, my GP seemed to not want to be involved. I lost my job (out of the blue) in November 2018. I had no insurance and was struggling to keep up with my bills. I was out of work for 4 months and settled for a ridiculous $2500 approximately, because I really needed the help financially. I started a new job in April 2018. 90 days of probation, so just needed to stay healthy. Almost 10 days ago, my neck pain began with the nerves again. I am wearing a neck collar and takin g alleve and motrin to try to tolerate the pain. There is NO relief and no help. I did not press this issue because it had seemed to go away so, I figured there would be no way to claim something that was not happening currently. I had xrays done either in December or early 2018 that showed vertebrae 3-5 with issues that also had some arthritis. So, I also figured nothing could be claimed if there was arthritis there. Now, I have more pain than imaginable and it isn’t going away. I probably need to go under and MRI for a cortisone shot into that vertebrae space. This is for life, which I never realized until now. I am assuming I have no recourse because I already settled for “next to nothing”….?
Hi Connie, unfortunately, when you sign a full release, there is hardly anything that can be done to open up your case. Sorry to hear about your bad injuries. Please get Uninsured Motorist on your policy, because next time you have a crash, there is a good chance you will have very bad injuries because you are easier to hurt than most other people. And a lot of driver’s out there don’t carry the proper insurance to compensate you adequately. I hope you feel better. Matt
sorry. my first accident 30 + years ago was the rear ending whiplash. I saw a chiropractor for a very long time. The recent 2018 accident was the bruising of my neck and ribs. More pain there to dominate attention. I did not seek immediate attention. I guess I felt if I got out of the car and was able to walk around it would be silly and expensive to go to the hospital when seemingly nothing serious was wrong.
Most people after a crash think they are fine and not hurt. But as time goes by, the problems begin to show up. I suggest you follow up with the doctors who helped you before the 2018 accident to ask them what changes they might find.
My Brother was suffered from wiplash injury, and after doing treatment with tablets and some other therapy he did not recover. As with the passage of time his condition became worse. So can you tell me the best chiropractors or doctors in jacksonville so
There are a lot of good doctors in the Jacksonville area. Please call my office and we will give you the names of a few doctors who may be able to help your brother.
Thanks for helping me understand that the injuries will not show immediately after the incident because of the adrenaline rush. I also appreciate that you mentioned that it would be best to seek a doctor immediately so that you will not only get your injuries treated, but you will not also have a gap in your medical record. I will share this information with a friend of mine who called me a while ago because he got into an accident after he dropped me off. It appears that there was a drunk driver on the road which crashed into his car. This tip will convince him to search for a doctor immediately.
Mr Powell, Thanks for the advice. My friend recently injured in a car accident. we are looking for a dr suggestion. Thanks for sharing such a great information.
Talk to attorneys in your area, they will know which doctors are specialists and know how to fully document the injuries in your medical records. Good luck. Matt
I had a slip and fall accident two years ago and fractured my spinal cord. I was taken to the hospital by an ambulance and a surgeon was called to perform the Balloon kyphoplasty surgery on one of my lumbar bones. I did physical therapy for a few months with that same doctor, and after a while the pain got better and I was able to walk without support. I went to see a lawyer right after my surgery, and a case was opened.However, Here is my other problem. I am a metastatic cancer patient too, and I have spinal cord and rib metastasis. However, that specific lumbar bone was intact before I fell (which has been documented with previous MRI’s) However, the surgeon’s report does not focus on that specific lumbar alone. He kept writing notes about the other issues in my body, and even though I told him to stop and to only write about the farctured lumbar, he continued to make notes about my whole entire spine. This is not good for my case, as the opposite firm is already saying that I fell due to having fragile bones. Which is not the case. I fell because the floor was slippery. So, I stopped going to this doctor because of that. And just continued with my oncologist and rely on his tests and comments. But those tests gives information about my spinal cord and ribs in general including the lumbar part, but would that be sufficient to convice a judge? Won’t they need specific reports about the actual fractured lumbar bone? Recently I went to see a new spinal doctor, But “Again” I was confronted with the same problem. I really need to find me a good Spine doctor.
My question is: Is it OK tell the new doctor to focus and write only about my lumbar fracture? Can I tell him that his notes are going to serve “A slip and fall case”? I am going to court soon, and I still don’t have a report that describes the injuries to that specific bone and how it has progressed. Except for the general information from the MRI’s performed with my oncologist which has mentioned that the cement is loosing height in the last 2 reports. Is that good enough?
My lawyer is a very busy lawyer and we hardly speak. He tells me not to worry that when the time comes, an expert will perform tests in that particular lumbar bone. But should I wait for that? Shouldn’t I have reports from other doctors documenting this case befmore this expert performs the test? I am confused, and I don’t know what to do. Thanks for your time.
Hi Maky, Thanks for your question. First, talk to your lawyer about what you should do and not do. I think the fact you have a pre-existing condition makes your case more valuable, at least it would in Florida.
As far as directing your doctors how to document your medical records, I don’t think that is a good idea. Because the doctors can sabotage your records by saying the patient wants me to write stuff for his lawyer, etc.
I think you have a good case and should talk to your lawyer about these issues and not your doctors. Good luck to you.
I’m in Dunedin,I need a Ortho who will take me with out ins. nor a lot of cash
If you need a doctor for an injury where you will recover their bill from the at fault person, then you should be able to find many good doctors in your area. I suggest you talk to your attorney and ask them who they suggest.