Injured in an accident, who should you see ?

Auto AccidentsAfter people have auto accidents and or a personal injury, its hard for them to know what type of practitioner is best equipped to help them with their issues. I’ve been treating patients who have been in auto accidents, falls and work injuries since 1994 and some of the stories I’ve been hearing these days are so confusing they are almost becoming an urban myth.

After experiencing an auto accidents or slip and fall injury, people often have a lot of  fear and confusion about what to do and who to see. Lots of people these days (Most of whom have no qualifications to do so.) seem to give advice as per whom you should see, the duration of your treatment, and even how much the care required to get you back to your pre-injury condition should cost.  What YOU need to focus on in these situations is one thing,  your own health and getting better ! There is a phrase seldom used by anyone but the informed when it comes to auto accidents, pre-injury condition. After your course of treatment is concluded, you deserve to be at least as healthy as you were before your accident. Please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

These days its clear that insurance companies are not your friend. Not even your own carrier. They are far more worried about cost containment than restoring you to pre-injury condition.  When you have suffered an auto accident, they often contact you immediately and start to negotiate with you to settle your case when you are at your emotional and physical weakest and most vulnerable.  This works to their advantage not yours in part as pain often takes a week to ten days to reach its peak after an injury of this nature. Please make sure you are feeling as good as you did before your auto accident before you consider signing anything (Usually, signing your rights away if my experience is correct.) I highly recommend you talk to an attorney before you consider closing your case.

Some of the myths I’ve been hearing lately are:

1) The cost of the damage to your automobile or property should in some way relate to the cost of your health care.  Another part of this thought is, your health care costs shouldn’t exceed the cost of the repair to your vehicle. This is absolutely not the case. Each case is individual and as varied as the individuals who get injured. What this simplistic approach doesn’t take into account is the condition of the person who was in the accident and the prior medical history of that person. It just doesn’t address so many variables its an entirely specious approach.

What the carriers do not take into account with this premise is:  The speed of impact necessary to induce connective tissue trauma has been documented at one point five miles an hour. This is the slightest fender bender and impacts of this nature may not leave any visual damage to the vehicle.  When treating people in these situations, your practitioner has to be aware of the fact that when the car crumples in a high speed impact, the actual crumpling of the metal is absorbing impact. When the car doesn’t crumple at all, the entire force of the impact is transferred to the passenger compartment. Remember your physics, force equals mass times velocity. So two thousand pounds of car hitting you at one mile per hour… do the math its a surprising amount of force.

Another factor is that many people go into these accidents with preexisting conditions that are asymptomatic yet after a seemingly innocuous impact can become severe complications. These people are referred to in the law as “Eggshell Victims.” It is not your fault you have a preexisting condition when you were in an accident. If in fact you had an asymptomatic preexisting condition, it could cause far worse symptoms than those experienced by a more mechanically correct person. Often times, three people in the same car will have very different types of symptoms after an accident.  What you need is an Attorney who understands this concept and a Doctor who can appropriately explain and Document it.

2) Another thing I’ve heard of late “Juries don’t like Chiropractors.” I can honestly say in in my many years of practice I’ve only been to court once and a binding arbitration once. Both times my patients side prevailed while outgunned if you will by medical experts on the other side.  These cases rarely go to trial, and when they do,  its really a question of can your Chiropractor effectively walk his talk.  Provided your practitioner can document your issues, progress, and articulate this in a cogent fashion you should be safe with whomever you choose to assist you with your situation. Juries like organized informed people who can articulate what it is that they are doing/have done and why regardless of the letters after their name.

Oddly enough the people who have undermined the confidence of some of the patients that I’m aware of, seem to be those who are not licensed to practice, diagnose, or adjudicate a case in or out of court. I’m always amazed how the least informed out there are often the most opinionated about things they don’t understand.

My advice to you….. Please find a team of professionals you trust and follow their advice. Don’t listen to the advice nurse in your plan about legal conditions, and PLEASE don’t think your insurance adjuster has your best interests at heart when they offer you some amount of monies telling you to sign off on your case.  I’m not saying they are inherently evil, just looking after their bottom line which is not the same thing.

I hope this is helpful to you particularly if you are reading this at such a trying time as after an accident.

Wishing you good health,
Dr. Ed Camp