In the aftermath of a car accident, your first question is often what you should do next. You may have thought you felt fine, but so much was happening it was hard to take everything in and determine how your body was affected by the collision.

To give you a simple answer, the first thing you should always do after a car crash is to seek medical attention. As soon as you’re able, call 911 and alert the police and emergency team that a crash has taken place. Then, when the medical team arrives, you should get checked out at the hospital.

In the early moments after a crash, it’s easy to think that you’re okay and that you don’t need medical attention. This is because your body releases chemicals to cover up pain and to make sure you stay alert. As those chemicals dissipate, you’re more likely to struggle with pain and dysfunction. You may find that you’re starting to feel stiff or that minor pains have started to grow more severe.

What testing will happen at the hospital?

The medical team will give you a physical examination. They will look for signs of bruising, broken bones and other injuries that are apparent following the crash. If the medical team performs this exam and believes you have injuries that will develop or that are not apparent, then they will order tests.

The tests that you need may vary depending on the injuries. For example, if you’ve hit your head or were unconscious for any amount of time, the medical provider may request a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI). These help them get a better look at what’s going on inside your body, so they can diagnose injuries that may not yet be obvious. X-rays are often used to identify broken bones and to check on the positioning of bones that are clearly broken.

Get medical care after a crash. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, this is the first step you need to take to help yourself and make sure you have the information you need for a personal injury claim.