What to Do After a Serious Car Accident: A Guide

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A serious car accident is life-changing. When you aren’t expecting it, you or a loved one is taken to the hospital with sudden injuries. The future is uncertain.

Being in a car accident isn’t something that you plan for. If the worst happens, you need to know what to expect and what to do.

Bobby Jones Law, founded by attorney Robert “Bobby” Jones, created this guide for what to do after a serious car accident. At our firm, we have helped hundreds of accident victims just like you. Our experience gives us insight into what victims can expect and what to do after a car accident.

At Bobby Jones Law, our Greenville car accident lawyer can guide you through the process and take care of everything. We do hospital visits. Contact us now. 

A guide for serious car accidents

Many guides on what to do after a crash don’t account for the severity of some collisions. These are situations where victims are taken to the hospital. They are unable to gather information at the car accident scene and need emergency care.

For minor car accidents, those involved should do what they can to gather evidence at the scene. However, when injuries are serious, and that’s not possible, you need to know what to do after getting in a car accident. This is a guide for you as a victim of a severe crash.

1. Going to the Hospital After a Car Accident

When you have serious injuries, you’ll most likely be transported to the hospital. If there is any question that you are hurt — even if injuries seem mild or moderate — you should get emergency medical care.

Sometimes, very serious injuries aren’t apparent following a crash. Whether you are transported by ambulance or you otherwise receive emergency or urgent care, the first thing you should do is get medical help. Going to the hospital after a car accident can save your life.

What to expect at the hospital

If you arrive by ambulance, they’ll take you for treatment right away. Emergency responders may have begun your treatment on the way. They will brief the emergency care doctors and nurses who will take over your care.

If you arrive another way, you’ll check in to the ER. They’ll ask for your name. You will receive a basic medical screening with vital signs. Attendants will assess the severity of injuries and prioritize seeing you based on how serious the emergency is.

What about payment?

No one is turned away from an emergency room based on inability to pay. An emergency facility must stabilize life-threatening injuries and provide care in any situation that may impair bodily functions or organs, regardless of ability to pay. However, you’ll be billed, and they will ask you for insurance and payment information.

Tests they’ll run

The first thing that ER doctors do for car accident victims is make sure that your vital signs are stable. They need to identify life-threatening injuries and address them. Then, they need to understand and treat all your injuries.

You can expect healthcare providers to run a range of medical tests. Tests may be routine or unique to your situation. Tests may include:

  • X-rays: X-rays are a way to check for broken bones. You’ll be positioned against a machine that can capture images.
  • CT scans: Computed Tomography (CT) scans can reveal bleeding and injury to internal organs, including the liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs.
  • MRIs: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can identify soft tissue damage. An MRI can reveal spinal injury and harm to the internal organs, including the brain, heart, and digestive system.
  • EKG: An EKG measures heart activity. The procedure is painless.
  • Blood tests: A blood test may reveal problems that have arisen because of the accident. It can also tell doctors if you have an unusual medical condition that may impact your needs.
  • Traumatic brain injury: Brain injury testing may evaluate thinking, movement, reflexes, and coordination. Imaging tests may be used in conjunction with evaluative tests to diagnose brain trauma.

With the information learned from these tests, doctors can provide care. You may need emergency surgery to stop bleeding or set a bone. There may be additional tests to run later, including mental health screening.

Symptoms they’re monitoring for

When you go to the hospital after a serious car accident, there are certain signs and symptoms they’re monitoring for. These include:

  • Difficulty breaching
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness, confusion, loss of concentration
  • Feeling cold
  • Numbness, inability to move
  • Swelling
  • Chest pain
  • Shooting pain
  • Pain to the touch, protruding bone

How long you’ll stay

You may be admitted to the hospital. An average hospital stay after a car accident is 3–5 days.

However, the length of stay depends on how severe the injuries are, what care you need, and whether complications arise. The NIH reports that complications following hospital admission for trauma may increase length of stay by 62%.

Billing for hospital care after a car accident

One of your primary concerns after a serious car accident is dealing with medical bills.

Emergency hospital care can cost thousands of dollars — and it’s a bill you didn’t expect.

The bills are in your name — they’re billed to you, even if you’re not at fault for the car accident.

The hospital may file a lien against you. That’s nothing to be afraid of — it just means the hospital can collect from a settlement or judgment that you receive for the accident. The hospital can’t require you to stay if you can’t pay your bills.

Start with your own health insurance. Provide that to the hospital, even if you aren’t at fault. Medical insurance will cover car accident injuries like other medical needs. If the at-fault party’s insurance settles with you later, the healthcare insurer may seek subrogation of what they paid.

Medical costs may be negotiated. You may receive a reduction or settle for a reduced amount in cash. Some hospitals have charity care programs.

The driver at fault is liable for damages; their insurance should provide coverage. However, they don’t always have coverage or enough coverage. Having a lawyer is especially important to identify insurance and address hospital bills.

2. Outside the Hospital

Once you leave the hospital, there are many follow-up tasks after a car accident. Remember that your healing has only started. Take the time that you need to rest and heal. You don’t want the other party to say that you didn’t take your care seriously.

As you heal, you’ll start on the next things to do after a car accident.

Notify insurance

Tell your insurance company about the accident. You don’t need to have full information – just tell them an accident occurred and the date, location, and time. Tell them that you have injuries and that you went to the hospital.

Reports and records

You’ll need a copy of the accident report. You can get that from the South Carolina DMV website. You may contact the SCDMV at (803) 896-5000 if you need assistance.

It’s possible that there is also a police report for the collision, especially if there may have been drunk driving or another arrest made. To ask about a police report, contact public records for the police agency that responded to the accident.

Investigate car insurance

What insurance policies exist and which ones should pay are critical questions for getting your compensation. Insurance information should be in the car accident report.

Medical bills are only one thing that you may be compensated for. It’s unlikely that you’ll know the full value of your car accident claim immediately after you leave the hospital. Lawyer Bobby Jones knows the types of compensation that you can claim. When he represents you, he works diligently to identify all types of damages and fully value your case.

Start a diary

Begin to identify ways that you have been impacted by the car accident. Keep a diary of your pain and physical limitations. If you receive medical attention, record the date, care provider, and care received.

If you are unable to work, document this in your diary. Write down your rate of pay and hours.

Gather proof of income like pay stubs and annual pay statements. Identify mental health injuries and any other ways that your life has changed.

Car repairs

If you’re seriously hurt in a car accident, chances are, your vehicle is impacted, too. You’ll need to get estimates about repairs or understand the process for a totaled vehicle. You can choose your body shop, and there are reasons that you may or may not want to use the body shop preferred by your insurer.

The body shop will provide an estimate of your repairs to the insurance company. The insurance company will review it. Once approved, you’ll take your car in for repairs. If your car is totaled, you’ll negotiate payment for the current market value of the vehicle.

Involving a lawyer

The sooner you have a lawyer, the sooner we can help. A lawyer doesn’t just file legal paperwork — we do everything to get the best financial resolution for you.

We can:

  • Meet you at the hospital
  • Address and negotiate hospital bills
  • Investigate insurance policies
  • Report the accident to the insurance company
  • Provide insurance with the needed information and negotiate
  • Assist you with arranging vehicle repairs
  • Gather collision and police reports
  • Talk to witnesses
  • Pursue your claim

Lawyer Robert “Bobby” Jones can tell you exactly what to do step-by-step.

3. Your Legal Claim

Then, it’s time to pursue the compensation that you deserve.

You must build your case by:

  • Building evidence
  • Working with experts
  • Valuing damages
  • Proving fault
  • Showing causation of injuries

You must pursue your case by:

  • Reporting to the insurance company
  • Negotiating your settlement
  • Filing your case in court
  • Attending court hearings
  • Presenting your case at trial, if necessary
  • Collecting your judgment

At Bobby Jones Law, we take care of everything on your behalf. While you focus on your recovery, we’re focused on your compensation.

Serious car accident cases. Serious results.

We hope that you have found this guide helpful for what to do after a severe car accident.

Bobby Jones is an experienced lawyer in Greenville, SC representing car accident victims. We can meet with you in the hospital, at home, virtually, or in our offices.

For help after a car accident and legal representation, contact us through our website today.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
  • Named among Super Lawyers "Rising Stars"
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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