Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What to do after an Auto Accident

As a physician who is involved with patients in all aspects of a car wreck, I want to share some basics of what to do in case you are involved in an automobile accident and how to prepare yourself to get the treatment you need after you have had an accident.
Firstly, motor vehicle accidents (MVA) account for approximately 1.3 million deaths annually and are the leading cause of death in youth (those less than 35 years old). With these statistics, it is not only legally necessary, but also wise to possess insurance coverage. If you drive, it is likely that you will be involved in some form of MVA sooner or later. My advice is that if you drive a vehicle, insure the vehicle fully including the most personal injury protection or PIP that you can get. PIP is the part of your car insurance that covers your immediate medical bills. Most policies have basic coverage for $10k. Consider, however, that a single MRI (a common diagnostic test) may cost up to $1500.00 and physical therapy typically costs about $90.00 per session. PIP is especially crucial if you do not possess adequate medical insurance. The key to healing from your injuries is to get the proper care, including diagnostic tests over the right amount of time. More and more, it is difficult to find quality providers including physical therapists and specialists who are willing to see and treat individuals who only have coverage through the other party’s insurance, also called third party.
So, what to do if you get involved in a car accident? Here are some thoughts, not necessarily in order:
1. Call 911—if you think you need to. If hurt, call 911 to be properly assessed in the field. Stay in the car to help gather yourself and wait for the aide car. In some circumstances, get out of the car if the placement of the car is in a risky place on the road.
2. Do not admit fault—this is not the time! Let the insurance company sort all of that later. This is to protect you in case your memory of the events or your understanding of who is at fault is wrong.
3. Call the police—I am amazed of how facts get redefined after the motor vehicle accident! If it’s more than a small bump or superficial injuries, call the police (use 911). Get a copy of the report at the scene. The ticket is the police’s opinion of fault.
4. Get the other driver’s license and insurance information---copy down everything from the other driver’s license. All of it, the state, the ID number, the address. Do not forget to get phone numbers. Also do not forget to get the make, model, and license number.
5. Call your insurance company—let them know what happened. This is especially true if you are not the one at fault. They will want to work especially hard at proving the other driver is at fault.
6. Be assessed by emergency department—if you have any symptoms either immediately or later that day, it is prudent to be assessed in the E.R. to clear internal injuries, neck injuries, etc.
7. Get in to see your doctor soon—preferably the next day. Early assessment, ordering of diagnostics studies, and treating inflammation early is important to getting healthy again. The key to attaining the goal of pre-accident status is early assessment and treatment. If you are no better after two weeks of the accident, get a referral by your doctor to a physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, or acupuncturist. Which one you see is dependent upon your injuries as they all have their areas of expertise.
8. Consider a lawyer—this should not be the first step and not all lawyers are of the same quality. Many are out for the dollar and not your best interest. I think it best to see who your physician recommends and trusts. Consider legal representation if your injuries are serious, if there is a pre-existing history of injuries or if your insurance company does not seem to have your best interest in mind.
If you would like more information on our services, contact us at http://www.eastsidefamilyhealth.com or by phone: 425-899-2525

Dr. Frank Marinkovich and his wife Rita own and operate Eastside Family Health Center in Kirkland, WA. Serving Kirkland and the Eastside, Seattle, Bellevue, Renton and the surrounding local communities. Specializing in Primary Care, Automobile Accidents and FAA physicals. Be sure to find out more about their NEW specialized Laser Treatment. Visit them online at Eastside Family Health Center or call them at (425) 899-2525.
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  1. I think something like this would be great to print and put in my glove box! I was in an accident once and for the life of me couldn't remember what information to ask for since I was still in shock about the accident....

  2. That's so true... Once you're in the "moment" you don't think of these things. Great idea! I might do the same :)

  3. Great advice! It is nice to have it laid out so simply.