blog home Car Accidents Three tests you may need after a crash

Three tests you may need after a crash

By John Singleton on August 4, 2020

Car accidents can be chaotic and confusing, even when you’re getting medical check-ups afterward. You may assume you need an X-ray if your hand is broken, but what about other tests? You may have heard of a CT-scan or MRI, but who understands what they are and when we might need one?

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we work to prevent car crashes from happening altogether, which is why we invest in educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving, intoxication, and drowsy driving. But when you are involved in a collision, we want you to know what the best course of action is to minimize your costs and your long-term injuries, as well as what your rights are to compensation in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

One of the keys to this process is getting a proper medical evaluation and care and understanding which tests you could need immediately following a crash.

Get evaluated immediately

Traffic collisions can cause obvious injuries that require immediate treatment, such as a broken wrist or laceration to the head. However, high-stress situations can also cause a spike in adrenaline, which can drown out the pain and full extent of your injuries. You may walk away from the accident with only minor aches, but hours later realize you have extensive bruising, dizziness, nausea, and intense pain.

Depending on how you are feeling, you could be experiencing an “invisible injury” such as:

The symptoms of each injury may vary after a collision, but it is always important to get a check-up at an ER or with your physician as soon as possible. You will have an easier time recovering if your doctor can identify one of these injuries early on, rather than days or weeks later when you are trying to get back to your previous life.

What are the three big tests after a crash?

When you go to an ER or check-up following a collision, you’ll be asked to provide your medical history, any medication you are taking, and your symptoms. Be as thorough as possible in describing how you are feeling, how the collision has impacted your day-to-day life, and if you are experiencing any limitations, such as being unable to raise your arms over your head without discomfort.

In addition, you may want to have family members describe any changes in your behavior they have noticed. Blows to the head can cause traumatic brain injuries, which often present with changes in mood or behavior that the victim is unaware of.

Your doctor and the nursing staff will check your blood pressure, possibly request a physical if you have mobility issues, and they may require additional tests to rule out any internal trauma.

While you should follow your doctor’s advice, there are three main tests you should know about following an accident: X-rays, MRI scans, and CT-scans. Each has its own benefits in diagnosing your injuries, but not all may be required. Understanding which one to request for your situation can help.


X-rays are the most well-known type of medical test. They use electromagnetic waves to take images of the body’s internal systems. While these images are primarily used to check for a fracture and determine how to treat it, doctors may also request one to determine if you have a dislocated joint or other damage to your skeleton, such as spinal cord injuries. In some cases, whiplash can be identified with an X-ray, but most soft tissue injuries are not visible on an image.

MRI scans

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) offers a deeper look at the body’s internal systems than an X-ray, so your doctor can evaluate any damage to your bones, soft tissues, organs, and nerves. It is one of the best tests for diagnosing a spinal cord injury, such as a herniated disc, as well as nerve damage, organ damage, and even brain injuries, because MRIs can even detect abnormal brain activity.

Before having an MRI, make sure to inform your doctor if you have a pacemaker, artificial joints, metal pins, or if you could be pregnant. MRIs use magnetic fields to diagnose trauma and can negatively interact with electronic or metal components in your body, causing further damage.


Otherwise known as “Cat-Scans” or “Computed tomography,” this test uses a combination of computer imaging and X-rays to get a complete image of your body’s internal structures. A CT-scan can help diagnose any trauma you have suffered to your organs, internal bleeding in the brain, damage to the ligaments or tendons, and severed or bruised nerves. Both MRI-scans and CT-scans are invaluable in detecting internal trauma, but CT-scans are often more affordable and faster, while MRI-scans can give a more detailed picture of the trauma.

Understanding the differences among the three tests and asking your doctor questions about the tests you are given can help ensure that you receive the best evaluation possible for your injuries.

Covering the costs of your treatment

Always insist the medical care provider (doctor or hospital) bill your health insurance. Many facilities will try to bill your auto insurance, but then, you will not get the advantage of your health insurance discounts from negotiated rates.

Depending on the extent of your injuries after a collision, you may need to file a claim for damages to cover the costs of your treatment, including tests and ER visits. If your injuries were caused by a negligent driver, you may be able to pursue compensation up to their policy limit for all of your medical expenses, in addition to any lost wages from time off work, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.

But receiving that compensation does not come easily after a collision. Insurance companies often resist paying out damages to injured parties, even when the at-fault driver was clearly negligent.

How we can help you

To ensure you receive every dollar you are owed following a crash, do not hesitate to contact a Virginia car accident attorney to discuss your case. At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, my partner Ken Gibson and I know how to hold insurance companies to their policies and get our clients the compensation they are owed. Not only can we provide sound legal advice, but we can also recommend experienced medical professionals to ensure you receive thorough evaluation and treatment after a crash. To learn how we can help you, call us at (804) 413-6777 to schedule a free consultation.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.