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Ouch! Four Steps to Take Immediately after a Car Accident

Dr. Andrew Johnston, DC

Motor vehicle accidents, or MVA’s for short, are extremely stressful and traumatic. Let us help you through these tough times! I hope you never have to use this, but this blog is here to help you in case you find yourself in this situation.

Let’s go through the four steps each patient should do after an accident - whether you are at fault or not. *Please note that I am not a lawyer or insurance expert, and this should not be taken as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for any legal advice*

1. What to do immediately after an MVA?

Imagine you’ve just been rear’re shocked about what just happened! You’re sitting in your vehicle and thinking, “What do I do now?”

First, do a mental self-assessment. Are you “ok”? Right after accidents, our bodies are riding an adrenaline high which can sometimes depress the symptoms and injuries from the accident. Can you feel your hands, arms, legs and feet? Are you able to move each of these body parts? If you’re unable to feel or move any of these areas, or if something just doesn’t seem right, stay put and have someone call 911. We’d rather you be safe and careful in these situations.

In the event that you do a mental assessment and feel like you are able to move without causing more harm to yourself, call 911 from your phone or car, and activate emergency medical services (EMS). Stay put and wait for EMS to arrive on scene. Let these trained professionals help you in your time of need. Even if you feel like you aren’t severely injured, having EMS on scene to assess the situation and you as a victim is important. After being examined, listen to their guidance and advice, and if you feel the need to go to the hospital for any reason, do so! (Always remember that you are your best advocate.) Whether by ambulance or other safe transport from a loved one, visit the urgent care or hospital of your choice where your injuries can be evaluated and treated.

2. Who should I contact?

After having your injuries assessed by a medical professional, contact YOUR car insurance first and let them know what has happened. After contacting your insurance company, you most likely will be advised to use your Medical Payments coverage or “Medpay” for short. In the wonderful state of Colorado, Medpay is something that should automatically be on your auto insurance policy, unless you have chosen to opt out of this benefit. Medpay is an amount of money (Typically ~$5,000) that your insurance will give you in order for you to receive the medical treatment you need.

Here are a few facts about Medpay:

- It’s specifically there for you for instances such as motor vehicle accidents

- You using your Medpay does NOT affect your premiums if you were not at fault

- Medpay coverage STILL pays for injuries even if you are at fault

- Your Medpay benefits reset each time you are in an accident

What about the at-fault person's insurance? Yes, you should also contact them and be sure to open a claim. They will be able to sort out your car repairs and rental car. Ultimately they will be responsible for paying for your medical bills as well, however they do not have your health care best interest in mind and will not advocate for the care you need. The role of the at fault party's insurance company is to save the insurance company money. Yet another reason we in Colorado are so thankful for Medpay! Allow your own company's Medpay benefits to pay for your medical bills and let the insurance companies sort it out later.

When you begin seeing your medical provider for treatment after the accident, whether it is at Washington Park Chiropractic, or elsewhere, provide them with your auto insurance or claim number and your provider's office will handle the rest.

3. Should I contact an attorney?

I personally recommend that all of our motor vehicle accident victims at least speak with an attorney. They are amazing advocates that are there to help you through these unfamiliar circumstances. They will listen to you and help you to know the best way to navigate the insurance companies. Even if you decide to use your Medpay, speaking with an attorney is still a great thing to do. They will handle conversing with the at-fault party’s insurance if need be and will give you the peace of mind that you need and want in order to heal.

Patients will often ask me, “but what if I can’t afford an attorney?” That can be concerning for many folks, but the initial phone consult is nearly always free. Also, an attorney will not take on your case unless they feel like they can help you. In addition, it is not uncommon for the attorneys to be paid by a portion of the settlement received from the at-fault party after your medical expenses are paid for. So working with an attorney can still be a feasible option for even the most frugal patient.

The attorneys are always on your side. They are your advocates and will make your life much easier. With the technical side taken care of, your only job becomes focusing on getting better and fully healing.

4. Focus on you and your healing

That’s right! You have one job now, to heal. Communicate to your chiropractic and medical team all of your symptoms from your accident and pre-existing injuries that were made worse from the accident. Let your team know what has been helping and what isn’t. Be patient with yourself and know that these things sometimes take time, and that’s ok. Your chiropractic and medical team is here to aid you in this journey and we will do everything in our power to get you better. Most of the time muscle, ligament and joint injuries (aka whiplash) sustained in a minor to moderate car accident can take 1-4 months to recover from. More severe accidents will require more treatment. Our doctors will take great care of you throughout the entire process to ensure that your body is even stronger after healing.

Andrew Johnston, DC, SFMA, FDN 1 & 2 is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) with a passion for helping his patients achieve their greatest potential, whether that be lifting their grandkids, hiking the trail of their dreams, or succeeding in the professional sport arena. Dr. Johnston focuses on finding and treating the root cause of his patient’s problems, rather than just treating symptoms. Stay connected with Dr. Johnston on Instagram @washparkchiro

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