Let’s talk about the Do’s and Don’ts after an auto-accident for a moment. This is an important section to understand because most people have no idea what to do when they are in an accident. I feel this is the insurance companies fault because they make things as confusing as they can so they don’t have to pay for injuries sustained from an accident. If you get into a car accident, there are, of course, a few things you should do immediately, and there are other things you should avoid. So, starting from the scene of the accident, let’s go over these important points.
1. Please understand your health is the number one priority at this point and if you feel you have been injured, go to the hospital and get checked out. Being in an accident can be emotionally and physically traumatic. You will most likely be shaken up, and in some form of shock. Sometimes, you can be physically injured and not realize it because your adrenalin and emotions have taken over making you feel as if you are fine. However, in other cases it is obvious you have sustained severe injuries that need immediate medical attention. Going to the hospital is your choice and your right and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Once there, your injuries will be examined and any necessary imaging will be done to make sure nothing is broken. When appropriate, exams will be done to rule out any life threatening issues. If you do not decide to go to the hospital, you can and should still see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident to document any injuries for insurance purposes as well as to prevent small injuries from becoming larger ones.
Getting checked out by a health care practitioner should include having some imaging such as x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to make sure nothing serious is wrong, especially internally, that may not be obvious. After this goes on record, then you should absolutely see a chiropractor.
I also want to clarify that you definitely can see a chiropractor first, they will be able to direct and advise you on your healthcare at that point. This is a very good option if you do not want to go to the hospital or you are unsure about quick care centers or your primary care physician will not see you because of the accident.
One of the biggest problems a patient can make is waiting to see a doctor. State laws say you need to see a doctor within 14 days of the accident, or your insurance company will not pay to cover personal injuries. This can mean the insurance company is off the hook for everything and you are stuck paying for your care out of pocket. So, you have to get in immediately to see a doctor. You can see a chiropractor first, but it’s best to see an MD as well for documentation purposes and to open up your full medical benefits (which we will talk about later).
2. Inform your insurance company that there was an accident, but do not incriminate yourself by saying “you are fine, and have no problems or injuries.” Remember most of the time your injury pains will be delayed. If you end up not having any issues that is great, move on with life but it is better to be cautious and make sure you were not injured.
3. If there are injuries documented, retain an attorney and have them take care of all correspondence with your insurance company. At this point you should never talk to your insurance company again about injuries or the accident.
Your attorney will need to get the medical doctor, whether at the hospital or other medical facility to write an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC), which states that you, the patient, require further care. Basically, it states that you were in an accident, you have some issues, and need treatment and/or therapy. Once the doctor provides the insurance company with an EMC, this will open up the possibility to claim insurance benefits for treatment. If you do not get an EMC, you may only be entitled to a portion of the benefits.
4. Don’t ignore medical treatment. The biggest mistake a patient can make is they don’t get treated. They think everything is okay, or they just get over the counter medication, and this helps the symptoms temporarily, but whiplash, herniated discs, subluxations, and the changes in the curves of tissues will continue to develop. Down the line, this can cause problems like arthritis and disease, and without taking care of the source of your injuries, you may have to rely on medications to treat your symptoms which can lead to even more problems for your stomach, kidneys, and liver.
Overall, your quality of life can begin to degrade if you don’t have your condition evaluated and treated properly. This is something I am passionate about; preventing degeneration from occurring at a later date. This is also why it’s so important to me to educate my patients. People need to see a doctor who specializes in treating the spine after an auto-accident or any physical traumatic event. That doctor is of course, a chiropractor.