Car accidents can cause a number of injuries ranging from minor to severe. When you’ve been hurt in a crash, your health and well-being should always be your number one priority, so you should have any injuries evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. If your injuries seem particularly severe, it is better to proceed directly to the emergency room rather than waiting for an appointment with your regular doctor.
However, the cost of emergency room care after a car accident can be a deterrent for some people in Albuquerque. We urge car accident victims not to allow financial concerns to interfere with the process of necessary or even life-saving medical care. Instead, we’ll break down the cost of a typical emergency room visit and your options for recovering compensation to address these costs.
When To Go to the Emergency Room After a Car Accident
Not every car accident necessitates a trip to the emergency room. If you have suffered only very minor injuries or otherwise feel like your normal self, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. Be sure to let them know that you were involved in a motor vehicle collision and would prefer to be evaluated for possible injuries sooner rather than later.
Serious or catastrophic injuries should be evaluated in an emergency room setting as soon as possible. If you experience any of the following symptoms, go to the ER, have a trusted friend, or loved one drive you there, or call 911:
- A headache that continuously gets worse or will not go away
- Clear fluid leaking from your ears or nostrils
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Blood in your vomit or coughing up blood
- Large, tender lumps that may be a broken bone
- Chest pain
- An inability to move or feel any part of your body
- Numbness or tingling in your neck or extremities
- Severe abdominal pain
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Vision changes or blurred vision
- Memory loss
- An altered state of mind
The above is far from an exhaustive list of symptoms you might experience after a car accident that indicates you need emergency medical care. If you are worried something is wrong, do not feel well, or simply feel that something is not right, err on the side of caution and go to the emergency room.
When To Go to Urgent Care After a Car Accident
If your injuries are not severe enough to necessitate emergency medical care, but you would still like to be seen before your doctor can fit you in, an urgent care location may be the most appropriate option. Urgent care facilities are set up to treat non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
An urgent care location would be able to treat minor car accident injuries, including:
- Cuts and scrapes
- Dull body aches or pains
An urgent care doctor can perform physical evaluations, order additional testing (such as X-rays), and prescribe medications.
Waiting times at urgent care facilities tend to be shorter than in emergency rooms, and you typically will not pay as much at an urgent care facility, either. However, you may be referred to an emergency room if an urgent care doctor deems that your injuries are severe.
The Average Cost of an Emergency Room Visit in New Mexico
The cost of your emergency room visit will vary depending on a variety of factors, including:
- The severity of your condition
- Whether you have insurance
- If the emergency department is considered in or out of network
- Tests you undergo
- What medications you are prescribed
- Whether you need emergency surgery
The average cost of receiving medical care in an emergency department is $2,200, although your visit may cost more or less depending on the details of your situation.
How Long It Takes To be Seen for Car Accident Injuries in the Emergency Room
The emergency room does not treat patients on a first come, first served basis. Since people’s lives may be on the line, nurses use a process called triage to determine who needs care first. When you go to the emergency room, a triage nurse will:
- Ask yourself questions about why you are there and what symptoms you are experiencing
- Take and record your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiratory rate
- Prioritize your place in line depending on the urgency of your condition
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), nearly 44% of emergency room patients are seen within 15 minutes of their arrival. This leaves the other 56% of emergency room patients waiting longer, sometimes for an hour or longer. If your condition seems severe or you experience any sudden worsening of the symptoms that brought you to the ER in the first place, speak up and let the triage nurse know right away.
How a Personal Injury Claim Will Help Your Medical Expenses
If another driver’s negligent or reckless actions caused your car accident, you may have a standing to file a personal injury claim. This type of legal action seeks to recover compensation for damages incurred by car accidents, including both economic and non-economic damages. Medical expenses fall under the umbrella of economic damages.
New Mexico state law does not cap compensation you can receive for economic damages in car accident cases. This means that even if your medical bills appear to be rapidly spiraling out of control, the other driver and their auto insurance company may be responsible for the costs. Medical expenses for which you may seek compensation with a personal injury claim include:
- Copays for doctor’s visits
- Imaging tests, including X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs
- Physical therapy and other rehabilitative services
- Urgent care or emergency room bills
- Adaptive equipment, such as mobility aids
What To Do With the Medical Bills From Your Car Accident
Document every medical appointment you have, as well as all your related medical expenses. Store all your medical bills related to your car accident injuries in a safe place. If possible, make copies of every bill if your originals are lost or accidentally thrown away.
This collection of documents will serve as an invaluable tool when it comes time for your attorney to value the worth of your car accident claim.
Buckingham & Vega Law Firm Is a Powerful Advocate for Car Accident Victims
If you are struggling with the cost of emergency room care after a car accident, Buckingham & Vega Law Firm is here for you. For more than two decades, we have been providing unrivaled legal guidance to accident and injury victims in New Mexico.
We invite you to contact our Albuquerque office to set up a case evaluation at no cost to you. We will provide an opportunity for you to discuss your case one-on-one with an attorney in a no-obligation setting.