Car Accident: Things you should know:
If you have ever been in a car accident, and chances are you have, you know things can get very confusing and scary. Every year there are approximately 10 million auto accidents of one sort or another. Some involve serious injury and many are just “fender benders”. In fact, industry statistics predict everyone will be in an accident once every 17.9 years. According to the National Safety Council, 3 in 1,000 of these accidents will involve a fatality. Good news, odds are in your favor to survive an accident. However, these accidents can still cause lasting injury and also be very expensive! More than 2 million people are injured in auto crashes every year. The average claim per accident for both drivers and vehicles has risen to over $23,ooo. Below you will find important tips to help you navigate the scene immediately after the accident as well as how to get the best care to prevent future problems.
I will add my disclaimer here that I am not qualified to give legal advice, I am just sharing from personal experience. Knowing what to do or say after an accident can make a lot of difference. In my office, I have talked to and assisted many people with their accident recovery and I have heard many very interesting stories. However, often there is a common thread to what happens after an accident.
If you are in a car/motor vehicle accident what are the most important things you should know? Here is a list of important things to know if you are in a car crash.
1. The single most important thing to do after an accident is to take an inventory. Check in with yourself and see if you are ok. You may not know exactly how you are faring, but at least give it a try. Check for bleeding or broken bones, dizziness, see if you are lightheaded. Then, check on your passengers right away. If you can do this without leaving the car all the better. You may be confused and you do not want to step out into traffic until you make sure you are stable and balanced. Check on yourself and see if you have been injured. If you have any spinal pain, bleeding, confusion or obvious broken bones remain still until help arrives. Let’s also add that you will stay still if you have hit your head on anything also. Even if you seem to feel fine, take a few deep breaths and check on yourself and then the other passengers in the car. Of course call 911 if you are able.
Sometimes in a car crash, people panic and do dangerous or silly things. I assisted a woman at a car accident several years ago. She was hit pretty hard by someone who had run a red light. First thing she did was to get out and run around her car in the middle of a busy intersection crying “my car, my car”. I advised her to get back in the car and sit down. For an unknown reason, she listened to me and she sat down right away. She passed out as soon as she was back in the car seat. Turns out she had to be taken to the ER and was treated for internal injuries. Shock can make people do funny things.
So the number one thing to do after an accident is check in with yourself. Then others. Remain calm and do not jump out of the car. That is, unless maybe the car is burning or you have gasoline or explosives in the trunk!
2. Once all the medical and injury details have been taken care of and you have called 911 if necessary, the next most important thing you should know after a car accident is to keep your cool. Do not claim responsibility for the accident until you get all the details. Of course the accident may very well be your fault. Still, remain cool and let the police help sort out the details. You do not know about the temperament of the other driver either. These days, they may have a gun in the dash or for that matter the front seat, you just don’t know. These days a lot of people are very stressed out and road rage is rampant. Keep cool. Do not accuse or take responsibility. Be polite, yet reserved.
Assuming you survive and accident, what you do and say immediately after the accident can make a world of difference in getting the proper help at the scene as well as afterwards with your insurance, medical bills and most importantly the recovery from your injuries. Often the first reaction many people have is to immediately assume they were at fault or that they are “fine” and find out later that neither is the case. Some people automatically feel the accident is their fault perhaps due to momentary confusion at the scene or it may just be simply that they were perhaps doing something to contribute like speeding a little or rolling through a stop sign. Even so, you do not know the whole story about your injuries or the circumstances until you really get all the facts. The other driver may be driving under the influence and not have a drivers license or maybe the other driver is a 12 year old in a stolen car, who knows. It is a wild world out there. It is best to just wait things out until the police arrive and tell the truth. They will sort out the details. Even if you contribute to the accident, it may not be all your fault.
3. The third most important thing you should know after a car accident? Do not say you are “fine.” The police and other parties WILL ask you how you are doing. At this point, you may not know if you are injured or not. Chances are, if you have been hurt, you are in shock and may not be aware of the extent of your injuries if any. Even low speed auto accidents with minimal auto body damage can cause serious soft tissue injuries and whiplash. Having worked with dozens if not hundreds of car accident patients, one of the most common statements I hear in their intake is.. “I thought I was fine.” Then the next day, or over the next few days, or the next week or two, such and such symptoms began. Delayed symptoms are very common in auto accidents. At this point, you cannot be sure if you are fine or not. Let the EMT screen you for emergency care. Examples of commonly delayed car accident symptoms are often related to the head like headache or TMJ (jaw) pain, neck pain or even pain in the low back and at the site of seat belt injury. These symptoms can come on days, or longer after the accident.
Saying “I am fine” before your are sure, can have far reaching legal and medical/health consequences.
If you do not need to go to the hospital I would not blame you for not going. No one likes a hospital and it is one of the best places to get sick that I can think of . However, once you are cleared for emergent need (hopefully you are) DO get your self checked and evaluated as soon as possible by a good chiropractor. The next day is the longest you should wait. I have found that the sooner people get under care, the faster they heal and with the fewest complications. Chiropractors are well equipped and trained to deal with soft tissue injuries and whiplash. Of course if you just want muscle relaxers and pain medicine that will make you sick, dull your senses so you don’t feel the pain, and let you go about your life without consideration for your future health, then a family doctor will be fine. Don’t let me stop you. But, if you want the best care and preventative and restorative therapy that has the potential to help you become healthier than before the accident, chiropractic is where it is at. If you have any broken bones, severe sprains and need rehab, I recommend a physical therapist. This is where they excel. But in the treatment of spinal injuries like back pain and neck pain, not so much. In fact, PT ranks lower than acupuncture and chiropractic for treatment of back injuries according to Consumer Reports. Chiropractic was ranked tops by the way. You do not need a referral to see a chiropractor. They are licensed and trained to be primary caregivers and can also refer you to another specialist like neurology if necessary. Number 3? Get good care.
Good, now that you have some basics, here are a couple more suggestions.
The following tips are designed to help avoid an auto accident:
4. Do not drive distracted or impaired. We all know about alcohol and drugs and how they can impair driving. There is a new driving impairment that we are all aware of now. Cell Phones. It is estimated that over 1.6 million accidents per year are cell phone related! This includes talk and text. Both are dangerous. If you are like me, you have seen many close calls when someone almost crosses the center line headed our way, or nearly drives off the road because they are on a cell phone. What ever it is, it is not that important. It can wait.
Alcohol: Every day 28 people die from drunk driving crashes. If you are going to drive, pay attention and do not drive impaired. I Don’t think I need to add anything here. We all know the drill. We do not let friends or family, or ourselves, drive drunk.
5. Vampire Hour! Do not drive between midnight and 3:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. This is the absolute worst time for car crashes and fatalities according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During this so called “vampire hour” fully two thirds of fatalities involve alcohol.
I hope this article will give you some food for thought as well
What are the most important things you should know if you are in a car accident?