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3 Steps to Take after an Auto Accident

Written By SWFL Spinal Care on August 1, 2012

3 Steps to Take after an Auto Accident


So you've been in an auto accident and you have lots of questions running through your mind, unless of course, you are still in a daze from a slight concussion. You are probably thinking: do I need an attorney? Is my car totaled? Am I injured and what kind of doctor do I need for my injuries? That's a lot to deal with when you are in pain and perhaps have not been in this situation before.

Well let us see if we can help you sort through three important steps you need to take after an auto accident.

1.      What type of doctor do I need?

You are injured and you need to be checked out. Now if you have been to the emergency room, then yes, in essence you have been checked out. You probably had to wait about 2-4 hours so you could have about 2 minutes with a doctor who is a resident fresh out of school and who is very busy, and running on about 2 hours of sleep. You got about 10 minutes of a nurses time who quickly gathered your history and vitals. Another 10 minutes in the same room as the x-ray technician and you left with a pat on the back, a few samples of pain killers and muscle relaxers and the comfort of knowing that your x-rays appeared normal…

What if you had your choice of doctors? What if you could choose a doctor whose basic training educated them with several hundred's of hours more in the subjects of anatomy and physiology, neurology, physics, radiology, and most importantly diagnosis, than the ER doctor you just recently saw? Wouldn't it make since to seek their opinion for examination and treatment recommendations for your auto injuries? Sure it would. What ever the condition that one suffers, one usually wants to seek the doctor with the most education and experience in the area of their concern. That doctor is a doctor of chiropractic.

The right doctor will know how to best document your auto injuries in the case that you needed to seek compensation for lost time at work or permanent injury. He or she will explain your injuries in a way that you can understand and present a treatment plan that will address primarily your pain and inflammation, what it will take to stabilize your condition and rehabilitation for strengthening.

2.      What about the damage to my car?

Hopefully the damage and repairs are pretty straight forward. Many insurance companies guarantee the repair work that is done, for as long as you own the vehicle. This is assurance that the repair will be satisfactory.

Let's back up a few days to the day the auto accident occurred. First thing following an auto accident that you should do is to make sure that everyone involved is ok. Many people who have been involved in an accident feel dazed and confused for several minutes or hours after the collision. It can be difficult to make rational decisions at this point, so trust the advice of law enforcement and emergency personnel regarding your well-being. It is a good idea to collect the names and contact information of those that may have witnessed the incident. You may be glad that you did later on. If you have a camera or a camera-phone, start snapping pictures of the scene, the vehicles involved and license plates of the other vehicles. Make sure that you stay clear of traffic nearby as your likelihood of further injury from surrounding traffic is quite high.

Just as a note: buy full coverage insurance to include med-pay policies. This will cover all your medical expenses not just 80%. Make sure your deductible is affordable, as you may be required to provide the hospital with these funds upon receipt of services. Rental car insurance is also nice, if your car is damaged; it will take several days, if not weeks before the repairs are completed.


3.      Do I need an attorney?

This is a question many struggle with. Some just want to make sure that their medical and repair bills are paid, while on the other extreme, some think that having an auto accident means that they just hit the lottery.

An attorney can be very helpful in handling all the calls from the insurance company. You should know that every conversation that you have with the insurance company is being recorded and is like your personal affidavit regarding your case. So be careful to make your statements accurate and don't use generalizations. If the claims adjuster asks you how you have been feeling, make sure you are descriptive. This isn't your mother calling when it is ok to say “oh, I'm doing fine”. When the truth is, while you have been able to go to work, you woke up last night 3 times in pain, it took you several minutes to be able to stand up straight and brush your teeth, your spouse had to help you get dressed and tie your shoes, and your back has gone into spasm at work every time you reach for the telephone. All this being said, let me give you one more important tip. Keep a journal of your symptoms, how you slept, your abilities as it relates to activities of daily living, your pain levels on a scale from 0 - 10 throughout your day, and log all your calls to the insurance company. Be sure to note the date, time, the person you spoke with, and what was said. This log will be an important tool later on if you are questioned in court about your injuries or suffering. The value is in the details.

An attorney's work mostly occurs at the end of the case. After your treatment has been finalized and you have been released by all of your doctors. The attorney will gather your bills, total all the expenses and make a demand to the insurance company for a settlement. Once a settlement has been reached, the attorney distributes the funds to pay off any remaining medical expenses, lost wages and then the attorney takes their fee of typically 30 to 40% and you get what's left.

So in conclusion, one could lose literally thousands of dollars in lost time, future pain and suffering and by poor representation of their case by not following these basic steps. First, choose the right doctor, a chiropractor. Second, make logical decisions at the accident scene and repair. And third, consider an attorney to handle correspondence and negotiations with the insurance company.

I hope the report about the 3 steps you need to take after an accident so you don't lose thousands has been helpful.


Dr. Rob Watkins
Chiropractic Physician in Fort Myers and LaBelle


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