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Auto Accidents:  What You Should Know
by Therese Holliday, LMT/OR Lic#18016

You've been to the emergency room or immediate care facility, have been given the trio of pain killer and muscle relaxer pills, and were sent home.  If this is your first auto accident... congratulations!  Your world is about to change in ways you couldn't imagine!  If not, your prior injuries may come into play for all involved.

 

DOCUMENT
Make sure you acquire pictures of yourself, other occupants, and the vehicle(s) as well as the surrounding venue of the accident.  Make copies of filed police and accident reports not only for your file but also that of your insurance, legal team and medical providers.  If your cell phone camera doesn’t auto upload to your computer, upload all images to your computer, USB storage, CD and/or “the cloud” for safe keeping immediately as these may be key to ensuring your coverage and winning a claim.  In fact, take pictures of the driver licenses and insurance cards as a backup, just make sure you are in focus when you do so.

 

PIP (Personal Injury Protection)

PIP is part of your automotive insurance and helps to determine your level of care.

 

While your insurance company needs to know details about the incident, know that the other driver's insurance company may contact you requesting additional [personal] information such as your level of physical pain and capabilities, but also how much money you have in your personal checking account.  The agent is legally allowed to record all conversations (*Oregon) without your knowledge which may be used against you in negotiations for settlement as well as in court.  You can refuse to speak with them and direct all communication go through your attorney as well as redirect all requested medical information to your health care provider.

 

PHYSICAL CARE

Many victims believe they are “fine” post-incident and may settle for as little as $300 with their carrier, not realizing the severity of physical bodily damage.  Months later the perceived [lack of] pain may remain constant and is now impacting the victim mentally, causing discord with friends, family and employers.  If you postpone medical or physical care for months, your PIP policy may decline coverage claiming your physical condition viewing your status as not a result of the incident.  Ensuring you pursue appropriate care immediately and following treatment plans will improve your chances of not only financial coverage but also improved physical health.

Options:  While pain medications can be helpful for dealing with physical pain, they merely mask the symptoms and do not address the source of the pain.  Hands-on therapies such as chiropractic, physical therapy, clinical massage/manual therapy, acupuncture and osteopathic manipulation may return structural imbalances and soft tissue damage to a status close to that prior to the accident.

 

MENTAL and EMOTIONAL CARE

Something that is frequently underestimated is the mental and emotional impact of accidents.  Many patients suffer from flashbacks and loss of sleep, reactions to similar loud, noises and smells, and inertia. Emotional swings may include outbursts of anxiety and anger, uncontrollable crying and constant fear.  Many times family, close friends and even employers will not perceive your physical and emotional pain, making comments which can be perceived as insulting and uncaring.  Please realize that they are not you and have no way of understanding what you are experiencing unless you actually share it, and sometimes a good counselor may be able to help you with the language surrounding that as well as help you calm some of the extreme emotions surrounding your “new normal”.