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Should I Go to the Emergency Room After a Car Accident?

November 19, 2023 Legal Team

Car accidents are unexpected and traumatic events that can lead to a wide range of injuries, some of which may require immediate medical attention. The decision of whether to go to the emergency room (ER) after a car accident depends on the severity of your injuries. This blog will guide you through when it’s essential to head to the ER and when you can opt for a more cost-effective alternative, such as urgent care. The information presented here is supported by authoritative sources, with the respective citations for further reference.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

The emergency room is the appropriate choice when you believe you have sustained a severe injury that requires immediate medical attention. Some of the circumstances when you should head to the ER after a car accident include:


Fractures, which can include broken bones in the arms, legs, or spine, are considered serious injuries that often require emergency medical care. Symptoms may include severe pain, deformity, or difficulty moving the injured area.

Head Injuries

Head injuries, particularly those that result in loss of consciousness, confusion, or persistent severe headaches, should be treated as emergencies. They could indicate a concussion or more severe traumatic brain injury, which require prompt assessment.

Chest or Abdominal Injuries

If you experience pain, difficulty breathing, or suspect internal injuries in your chest or abdominal area, these may be signs of life-threatening conditions. Seek immediate medical attention.

Neck or Spinal Injuries

Injuries to the neck or spine are critical and could result in permanent damage if not treated promptly. Do not attempt to move the injured person. Instead, wait for professional medical assistance.

Severe Bleeding

Uncontrolled or heavy bleeding should never be ignored, as it can lead to life-threatening situations. Immediate medical intervention is crucial to stop the bleeding and assess the injury.

Loss of Consciousness

Any loss of consciousness or a state of confusion following a car accident is a clear indicator that you should visit the emergency room. These symptoms could signal a severe injury or concussion.

When Urgent Care Is Appropriate

While the emergency room is the right choice for life-threatening or severe injuries, not all car accident injuries fall into this category. If your injuries are not critical but still need medical attention, consider visiting an urgent care center instead. Urgent care facilities are equipped to handle a variety of non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, providing a more cost-effective and timely solution. Some situations when urgent care is appropriate include:

Minor Injuries

If you’ve sustained minor injuries such as sprains, strains, minor cuts, or bruises that do not require immediate treatment, urgent care is a convenient and cost-effective option.


Whiplash is a common car accident injury that often involves neck pain and stiffness. While it can be painful, it is typically not life-threatening and can be evaluated and treated at an urgent care facility.

Wounds Requiring Stitches

If you have suffered a laceration that requires stitches, urgent care is a suitable choice. They can efficiently address wound closure and provide aftercare instructions.

Non-Emergency Pain

Pain or discomfort that does not pose an immediate risk can be evaluated at an urgent care center. They can provide pain management and recommend follow-up care as needed.

Diagnostic Services

Urgent care facilities can perform diagnostic services like X-rays and laboratory tests, which are essential for identifying injuries that may not be immediately apparent.

The Cost-Effective Approach

One significant advantage of choosing urgent care for non-emergency car accident injuries is cost-effectiveness. Emergency room visits tend to be considerably more expensive due to the higher level of care and resources available. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the average cost of an ER visit is significantly higher than that of an urgent care visit.

Prioritize Your Health and Safety

While considering the cost of care is important, your health and safety should always be the top priority. If you are in doubt about the severity of your injuries after a car accident, it is best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. Injuries that may appear minor at first can worsen over time if left untreated. Remember that your well-being is the most critical concern, and seeking medical evaluation and care, whether in the ER or at an urgent care facility, is crucial.

The decision of whether to go to the emergency room or an urgent care facility after a car accident depends on the severity of your injuries. Life-threatening or severe injuries, such as fractures, head injuries, chest or abdominal injuries, neck or spinal injuries, severe bleeding, or loss of consciousness, should be immediately addressed in the emergency room. For non-life-threatening injuries and conditions, urgent care is a cost-effective and convenient alternative. Prioritizing your health and safety should be the primary consideration, and seeking medical attention is crucial to ensure that all injuries are properly evaluated and treated.

After taking care of your injuries, seek legal help from Shapiro | Delgado | Hofmann to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We offer free case evaluations. Contact our personal injury lawyers in Sarasota and Bradenton today!