Should I Get an MRI After a Car Accident?

An MRI can uncover hidden injuries caused by car accidents. Magnetic resonance imaging helps ensure internal injuries are identified and can be treated promptly. These scans can also assist the victim’s attorney in proving an injury occurred and how it happened.

What Is an MRI Scan?

MRI scans create a three-dimensional image of the area of the body that is scanned. These scans use powerful magnets and radio frequencies to show bones, muscle tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and blood vessels. These are parts of the body that an x-ray cannot effectively show because it is a flat image. An x-ray is useful for finding broken bones but not generally effective for detecting soft tissue or cartilage damage, herniated discs, or compressed vertebrae.

Covering the Cost of an MRI

An MRI could cost $2,000 or more, but it is often money that is well spent to ensure that accident victims receive the proper care they need to recover from their injuries. An approval may be required by an insurer before an MRI can be performed unless it is a life or death situation. Since MRI scans are so expensive, it is common for insurance companies to deny coverage, resulting in delayed medical treatment that can cause permanent damage.

Although the patient may be responsible for some of the initial expense,  the cost of an MRI can often be recovered in a personal injury settlement. Unfortunately, injury settlements can take months, or even years to obtain. For people who do not have insurance, getting an MRI can be a challenge. An injury attorney can sometimes negotiate with medical providers to defer payments until the personal injury settlement is received.

Benefits of Getting an MRI after a Crash

MRIs do not expose patients to radiation like an x-ray does. Often, medical professionals will recommend an MRI for patients who are pregnant or may have some type of medical condition that would rule out the use of an x-ray. An MRI could also identify a serious internal injury that would otherwise not be discovered before it caused additional damage.

Benefits of having an MRI include:

  • It is a painless procedure
  • It can be used to diagnose tissue and nerve injuries
  • It can locate internal bleeding and swelling that could cause additional injury
  • It is effective in finding common accident injuries like: Brain trauma, Spinal injuries, and Blood vessel problems

An MRI can be an effective tool to make sure that an accident victim receives all the treatment he or she needs right away. The earlier non-visible injuries are found, the earlier treatment can be given. When treatment is delayed until symptoms or complications appear, the possibility of permanent damage, disability, or death could increase.

What Types of Injuries Can Be Found with an MRI?

Injuries of a cosmetic nature received in a car crash like bruises, bumps, cuts, or scrapes are visible injuries. Such injuries seldom require an MRI. But the blunt force impact of a car accident can cause a wide range of injuries that are not visible, such as hidden fractures or dislocations.

When drivers or passengers hit their heads in an accident, experienced possible whiplash, or have back, neck, and/or head pain, an MRI should be performed to rule out serious injuries to the brain or spine. These are injuries that could be life-changing if not properly treated right away.

A concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur even when an accident victim has not hit his or her head. This is a serious injury that can occur when the blunt force has caused the victim’s head to snap back and forth, which could cause the brain to bounce against the inside of the skull. Such an injury, if not treated right away, could lead to permanent brain damage and long-term cognitive issues.

Injuries to the spinal cord can cause paralysis or chronic pain. The blunt force of a collision could cause vertebrae to become fractured, dislocated or compressed. Damage to the soft tissues of the spine, such as disc herniation, bulging discs, protruding discs, or disc herniation can be detected with an MRI.

Importance of MRIs in Injury Cases

The results of an MRI after a car accident can lay the groundwork for a personal injury case. MRI results provide medical evidence that an injury exists and, in some cases, even how it occurred. Often, these scans can confirm important details about a crash like the angle or intensity of the impact of the collision. This evidence can be used to compel the insurance companies to cover medical costs for injuries sustained in an accident.