|What do you do when this happens?|
Why is a Massage Therapist such as myself writing a blog about car accidents??? Because, after 15 years of working with patients and trying to help them get back to their life without the pain, I am sad to see how many fall into the “insurance game” trap. This brings unnecessary stress to the victim having to worry about paying for care which in turn hinders them from a full recovery. So here are my thoughts, being that I have worked on hundreds and hundreds of car accident victims, of what to do…and what not to do…
Not to be a fatalist, but chances are if you have not been in a car accident yet, you most likely will at some point in your life. The real question should be, “what should I do when it happens?”. First and foremost, do not panic! It’s an accident after all… Take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. Are you in danger? Do you smell gasoline? Does your head hurt really bad or are you dizzy? Is your car in an area that could easily cause another car accident?
If you are dizzy, confused or have a bad headache call 911 immediately. You could have a concussion and need immediate medical attention! Do not worry about weather you have health insurance. Your PIP insurance that comes with ALL car insurance policies will cover an ambulance and other medically necessary care. I will talk more about this later.
If you have a camera phone….TAKE PICTURES!!! Of what??? 1) License plate of other driver, 2) scene of accident from multiple views, 3) damage to cars, 4) driver of other car and their driver’s license. If you are blocking traffic or are in any danger of causing another accident, move your car ASAP to the side of the road after taking quick pictures of the scene of the accident.
Next, exchange insurance information. Remember…DO NOT ADMIT FAULT! Let your insurance company figure out who was in the wrong. Typically there is no need to call the police unless 1) someone is seriously hurt, 2) the driver refuses to give you their information, 3) the driver flees the scene, 4) your car is blocking traffic and or needs to be towed.
Now that you have all the insurance information you can refocus your attention to yourself! How do you feel? Is your neck stiff? Does your back hurt? Remember, ALL car insurance policies have what’s called PIP insurance or PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION. The minimum in the State of Oregon is $15,000. You can always opt for higher coverage, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Why? Because $15,000 will go very quickly if you need any sort of treatment beyond a month or two. For example, the average cost for a ride in an ambulance…$1,000-$2,000 and you have not even checked in yet at the ER!!! The average cost of just checking in at an ER and you DO NOT stay overnight…$5,000-$15,000. YES! OHSU hospital, for example, can easily wipe out your entire policy limits in a matter of 2-4 hours!
So ask yourself. How bad do I hurt? Do I really need to go to the EMERGENCY ROOM? Or, can I maybe go to URGENT CARE? Or, maybe I can just go to my primary care physician like a Chiropractor to get checked out? These other options are WAY cheaper and in the end will allow you to spend your insurance policy money on actually feeling better, like getting Massage Therapy!
But you might say, “so what if my bill exceeds my PIP insurance, it wasn’t my fault and the other guy will have to pay!”. Well, you are kinda right…BUT and this is the big BUT… what is their policy limit? The State of Oregon policy limit minimums are $25,000 per PERSON with $50,000 per ACCIDENT. So what does that mean? Let’s say there were four of you in the car and all needed medical attention. Each of you would receive the PIP insurance coverage of $15,000 EACH….BUT once the PIP is exhausted and it’s time to go after the 3rd party insurance policy you would only get $12,500 PER PERSON MAX!!! Because, its $25,000 per person or $50,000 per ACCIDENT! That means the four of you will need to split the $50,000 four ways.
So you see. When it comes to your medical care, you MUST think about your policy limits, and the limits of the person at fault. When things start to get more complicated like the example I stated earlier, I always recommend to my clients that they seek out a qualified personal injury lawyer to help them navigate the insurance “game”. Do your research too! Don’t just do with the first lawyer you meet. Interview them! Remember, they work for YOU!
Hopefully you will never need this information…BUT if you have the unfortunate car accident in the future, I hope that this brief explanation will help you be better prepared. All I really care about is that the people who get injured get better and get better fast. Without the worries and problems that can easily arise from a couple bad decisions.
I have made a list of recommendations for health care providers here! Good health to you!