MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS:
It’s scary to be in an accident. Most accidents leave you dazed and confused. You think you might be ok, but are likely not sure. Often symptoms of an accident don’t start to take effect for 2-3 days maybe even a week after an accident. At Connect, our team specializes in treating your injuries with comprehensive care. Give us a call to discuss our approach utilizing chiropractic, acupuncture and massage.
Auto insurance is designed to not only repair our vehicles but also our bodies. The best way to educate yourself about your insurance coverage is to understand your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. What most people don’t realize is that by law, insurance companies have a minimum set amount that is guaranteed (usually $15,000 per person) in every accident, without having to do complicated settlements.
Here is a reference guide for navigating the scary process of your health after an accident:
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver and ideally take photos.
Immediately after an accident, and assuming you are able to move, swap insurance and personal information. Don’t forget to get phone numbers for all parties involved. Taking photographs is also recommended.
- Reporting the accident
Call 911 if it is a major accident that is blocking traffic, or with seriously injured individuals, or if any laws were broken like driving while impaired. If none of these criteria are met, police are unlikely to respond. Oregon Law requires you to file an accident report with DMV if damage exceeds $1500.
- If you are severely injured, go to the emergency room or urgent care. If not, make the next available appointment with a primary care physician (DC, ND, or MD).
Seriously consider how you feel and take your time to evaluate your condition before you drive and/or decide whether or not to go to the hospital. If you think your condition is not life threatening, you may opt to avoid the high costs of emergency care, where typically they will take x-rays and send you home with a prescription for pain killers and muscle relaxants and instructions to follow up with a primary care physician within a few days for your whiplash or sprain/strains. The cost of this visit may equal half to most of your PIP, leaving you with little money for actual treatment and rehabilitation. The other option is to immediately phone a primary care physician from the accident and make the next available appointment. Most doctors will be able to fit you in that day or within 1-2 days without the high cost of emergency care.
- The effects and injuries of an auto accident may take days or even weeks to uncover.
Be forewarned that even with a minor accident there can be muscle soreness, decreased mental acuity, headaches, anxiety and fatigue. These symptoms can take several days or weeks to develop. So even if you think you immediately feel fine, making an appointment for a few days after the accident is a good idea regardless. You may be thinking (and hoping), “I just need some days to rest, and this will all go away.” Unfortunately, in cases of even the most minor car accidents, your body has sustained veritable trauma and a little rest and ice is unlikely to eliminate your symptoms completely. Getting your PIP to pay out depends on a primary care physician (PCP) determining the medical necessity of your care and referring you appropriately. This can be a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Naturopathic Doctor (ND) or Medical Doctor (MD).
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim.
The next crucial step is to contact your auto insurance company and get a claim number. Your insurance company will deal with who’s fault the accident was and who ultimately pays. In the meantime, they will issue a claim # and sort out the rest. As previously mentioned, your PIP coverage is typically guaranteed up to $15,000 for medical bills, assuming you have medical proof of your injuries and referrals from a Primary Care Physician. If that amount is exceeded, further levels of discussion are required, usually leading to a “settlement” and possibly requiring the help of an attorney who specializes in auto injuries. These are the general and most common guidelines, but you must find out exactly what your coverage is for your particular situation. Your insurance provider will tell you what your PIP coverage amounts are, how much insurance the at-fault driver has, and if you have coverage on your policy for an under-insured motorist (UIM).
- Do not settle with any agents that contact you, unless you are 100% confident that you feel perfect and will stay that way. We recommend not agreeing to recorded statements that can be used against you in the future.
Although the insurance companies will ultimately make sure you are covered, they are very eager to ‘contain’ their potential costs and get things over with as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for you to get a call or a visit within a week of your accident from an agent (usually from the at-fault driver’s company) trying to get you to ‘settle’ for a few hundred dollars. Unless you believe yourself to be feeling 100% as you were prior to the accident, with no doubt whatsoever, don’t settle, as this will declare the case over. If you do this, it is unlikely that any future medical expenses related to the accident will be covered by insurance. You will be responsible for all future medical bills. People can take months to fully recover and you must not feel rushed into this.
- Be diligent with your treatment plan so that you can get back to 100% as quickly as possible.
Your recovery can be accelerated and improved with an active and thorough approach to your care. The worst you thing you can do is nothing, getting 80% better happens relatively fast, but that last 20% may never come without good hands-on restorative care and rehabilitation. A comprehensive approach of chiropractic, acupuncture and massage is critical to full recovery. And don’t forget your little ones that may have been involved. Even if they can’t tell you how they feel, children of any age are extremely vulnerable and should be evaluated even in minor accidents. Once you return to pre-injury status, your treating physician will release you from care.
- If your case becomes complicated and you are concerned about exceeding your coverage, you may need to contact an Attorney.
There are several criteria to consider in choosing the right lawyer, and Dr. Brenda will often have a referral for a good one.
- Record the details.
This is especially crucial if you’re missing work due to pain or for therapy appointments. Keep a daily log of the amount of time you spend dealing with all elements of the car accident. Document everything from the time on the phone with agents, the auto shop, providers and lawyers, to your appointments, as well as how you are feeling each day. This will all be very helpful in your final settlement.
- Rest assured you’re in the right hands.
If you’re in an accident, the team atConnect Chiropractic & Wellness will assess your injuries, and treat your physical and emotional trauma. Accidents are stressful enough — recovering from it doesn’t have to be.