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

Whether you were in a minor car accident or a severe crash, the most important thing is to seek medical treatment without delay. Even if you are not in pain immediately after an accident, your adrenaline and shock may be masking a serious injury. The decision of whether to go to the emergency room (ER) or an urgent care facility after a car accident depends on the severity of your injuries.

Emergency Room: Serious or Life-Threatening Injuries

If the injuries you suffered in a car accident appear serious or life-threatening, you should go to the emergency room for treatment. ERs are ideal for emergency situations, such as major broken bones, head trauma or brain injuries, severe pain, trouble breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, potential internal injuries, a possible spinal cord injury, or if you lost consciousness at all during the accident.

The ER is equipped to treat patients with severe to catastrophic car accident injuries. Emergency medical technicians will evaluate you and may immediately begin treatment for critical injuries, such as by stabilizing your neck and spine to prevent further damage or stopping uncontrollable bleeding. ERs have the medical equipment available to carry out a wide range of tests to detect and treat major car accident injuries.

Urgent Care: Mild to Moderate Injuries

If you experience the symptoms of a less serious injury, such as a minor cut or laceration, bruising, swelling, or a low level of pain, an urgent care center may be more suited for your needs. It is important to visit urgent care even if you initially think you are fine after a car accident, as you may have injuries with hidden or delayed symptoms. Doctors at an urgent care facility can examine you and diagnose any injuries you may have suffered in the crash.

If you need prompt care and your car accident took place closer to an urgent care center than the ER, urgent care may be the better choice. Urgent care facilities still have the tools and staff to treat severe injuries. In addition, urgent care facilities are often less crowded than emergency rooms, which could mean shorter wait times. Finally, most urgent care centers are open 24 hours a day for prompt treatment any time, day or night.

Cost Difference of the Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

While your physical health and well-being take top priority, you may also wish to base your decision of where to receive medical care on the projected cost of treatment. Medical billing can vary significantly based on the facility, injury severity and treatments needed. However, overall, urgent care centers are generally less expensive than visiting the ER.

Note, however, that if someone else is at fault for causing your car accident, his or her car insurance company will compensate you for your medical costs. This is true whether you receive care at the ER or an urgent care facility. All of your crash-related medical bills will be covered by a car accident claim if you succeed in proving that the other driver is at fault.

No matter where you choose to get medical care after a car accident, the most important thing is that you see a doctor. Prompt medical treatment could save your life. It can also increase your chances of collecting financial compensation for any injuries diagnosed. For assistance with the car accident insurance claims process in Austin, request a free consultation at FVF Law.


Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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