Top 10 Do's and Dont's of a Motor Vehicle Accident
Posted Dec 22 2010 9:21pm
Written by Dr. David Salse, D.C.
1.Your Glove Compartment Is For More Than Gloves. Starting today, keep an “accident kit” in your car’s glove compartment. Your accident kit should contain a disposable camera, duplicate copies of your auto insurance information, a pen, and 3×5 cards to obtain witness information. Unfortunately, auto insurance statistics reveal that each of us will be involved in a car accident every 10 years of our adult life. Chances are at some point you will need to access your accident kit.
2.Just The Facts M’am. Get it in writing. If the other party admits to being at fault, have them put it in writing and sign it at the scene of the accident. Many times people will switch the their story once they talk to their attorney, the insurance company or family members.
3.Call the police. Safely pull over to the side of the road if possible first and encourage the other driver to stay. A police report is an important part of a med-legal case. Sometimes, the dispatcher will tell you that the police are not necessary and to just exchange information with the other party. If at all possible, have the officer come out to the scene of the accident.
4.Seek legal counsel. When you have been victimized by an accident, there are many legal issues to consider. I am not a fan of attorneys, but in these cases, having a competent, ethical attorney that can handle your case in a professional and timely manner is very important. Make sure your attorney was referred to you by a friend or family member you trust. Retaining an attorney will not only insure optimal results, it will alleviate much of the unneeded stress associated with dealing with insurance companies. Some people think they can save money by representing themselves. Just remember you are like an ant going against a giant when it comes to negotiating with a trained and seasoned insurance adjuster. Prior to meeting with your attorney, it is a good idea to only talk to your doctor and the attorneys staff. Do not give any statement on the phone or in person until you have spoken to your attorney. In my career, I have worked with over four-hundred attorneys. There are only a handful that I feel comfortable recommending to my patients, friends and family.
5.“But I feel fine.” Initially, you may not feel pain. This just might be from the shock of the accident. Many times accident victims don’t feel pain until the next day or two. Be proactive rather than reactive. If you feel any discomfort, stiffness, or symptoms from the accident see a doctor trained in treating auto accident patients. If you do experience significant pain, don’t hesitate to ask for an ambulance and get checked at the emergency room. Accident injuries can be worse than you think.
6.Don’t Be Macho! Don’t make the mistake of minimizing your pain. This is true especially for men. Disclose all symptoms as they can and will affect your medical evaluation and treatment. Finally, be sure to see your physical therapist, doctor, or chiropractor as often as recommended and necessary to insure complete recovery from your accident. Many patients stop their therapy prematurely when the think they are better only to have the pain return with a vengeance weeks or even months later. Sadly, unfinished treatment can lead to a poor settlement, but much more importantly, potential years of discomfort, pain and disability. Trust your doctor’s recommendations.
7.Is There A Doctor In The House? Once the acute pain has subsided, consider treating with a physical therapist or a chiropractor who specializes in auto accident injuries. Medical doctors prescribe medication which can be helpful initially, however in order to restore proper biomechanics, eliminate trigger points (knots), and aid in the neuromusculoskeletal recovery of the body, a DC or PT is the professional of choice. A good chiro or P.T. will educate you on home stretches and exercises to speed up your recovery.
8.Be careful! Just because your attorney recommended a doctor to you it doesn’t mean that physician is any good. Unfortunately, there are many therapy “mills” where patients are treated like cattle. In these “rack’m and crack’m” mills, everyone is treated the same and as fast as possible in order to maximize income. Ask questions and research your doctor. Its your health. No amount of settlement money is worth having a missed diagnosis by doctor that doesn’t take his or her time with you.
9.Don’t Go To Jail! Be honest! NEVER embellish the truth when it comes to auto accident cases. This is considered fraud. The Los Angeles District attorney’s office has a very active auto insurance fraud task force specifically assigned to bust fraudulent patients, doctors and attorneys. You WILL get caught. If anyone asks you to do anything you think might be illegal, find another provider or attorney and contact the County of Los Angeles District Attorney at 213-974-1439.
10.The Devil Is In The Detail. Start a detailed file. Remember that although it is rare, it is entirely possible you may end up in front of a judge and a jury. You may be called for a deposition or your statement will be recorded. Creating a personal file will keep all your important medical and legal papers in one place and will be a valuable resource if anyone calls you to testify. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of your case. Doctors visits, attorney meetings and lost wages from work should be included. Also, document quality of life changes. Explain how your life has been changed as a result of the accident. How has the accident affected you emotionally, socially, physically and personally. Finally, include photos of your vehicle from different angles at the time of the accident. Photos of any bruises or cuts are also important to have on file so you can share them with your doctor and attorney.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Salse, D.C. is a regionally recognized educator and CEO of Salse Chiropractic and United Physicians Health Institute. With over 17 years experience working with and specializing in wellness care, he is recognized by many national and international corporations as an authority in pain management using TENS technology. He has personally treated over ten thousand auto accident patients and is experienced with depositions, jury trials, and medical report writing. Dr. Salse is approved by the California State Board of Chiropractic Examiners (SBCE) as a licensed chiropractor with a specialty in Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA). Learn more at UnitedPhysicianshealthInstitute.com.