While there have been problems in the past with some people staging accidents and filing false claims, it is irresponsible to promote that ALL people involved in ALL minor car crashes are not hurt and are simply filing fraudulent claims. There has been lots of research done on whiplash and minor car crash by Dr Arthur Croft and the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, Society of Automotive Engineers, National Institute of Health (NIH) using crash test dummies and live volunteers. Research proved that even a car crash at 5 mph can cause injuries to the neck. Another surprising fact to many people is that the NIH found that 53% of the people involved in car crashes and suffered whiplash type of injuries never fully recover! They end up with chronic, permanent, lifetime pain. This does not mean that they are totally disabled but they will suffer with that mild to severe neck pain for the rest of their lives! There are 7 handouts explaining all this and much more that I use to explain to my patients and then it becomes part of their medical record in case we need to go to court.
The insurance industry spent millions of dollars on billboards, radio and TV ads promoting “STOP LAWSUIT ABUSE” to the public. You may recall seeing or hearing one of those ads. They did this so that if you were picked on a jury for a car crash case “STOP LAWSUIT ABUSE” would be fresh on your mind and you would think these people were not really hurt and just filing false claims. This scheme together with the courtroom drama by the attorneys that represent the insurance companies would usually be enough to render a decision in favor of the insurance company to NOT provide for any medical payments or for pain and suffering for the innocent car crash victim(s). Furthermore, these ads may lead you to falsely believe if YOU were in a minor car crash, sought medical treatment and filed a claim YOU might be committing fraud.
Some insurance companies especially one that claims “You are in Good Hands” may put part of the blame on you for the car crash. They will allege that you are 20% liable and they will now only pay for 80% of the damages to your car. This is abuse by the insurance company.
I have testified in court dozens of times as a Doctor of Chiropractic and Expert Witness for my patients. The attorney protecting the insurance company would do everything in his/her power to protect the insurance company he/she is representing from not having to pay any money or as little as possible. The attorneys bring up issues like why did you wait two weeks before seeking care…because if you were really hurt you would have sought care right away. The truth is many people try to tough it out and self medicate until they realize that the pain is not going away and in some cases is getting worse. The insurance company’s attorney will look for everything and anything to try to discredit you and your doctor. This is why it is IMPORTANT to be examined as soon as possible. It is even more important that you be seen by a specialist who is trained specifically in whiplash and spinal trauma AND will document ALL your injuries properly. This is VERY IMPORTANT! I cannot stress the importance of this. Get seen right away by a specialist trained in whiplash and spinal trauma. A big mistake is to see your family doctor who does not likely have this type of specific training. I do. And I have over twenty three years experience successfully having helped thousands of people just like you.
If you are taken to the emergency room know that the fees for the ambulance are high and the ER visit will also be very costly. Make sure you have the proper insurance coverage or if you were struck by another vehicle that person has insurance to cover those bills. If you do go to the Emergency Room, unless you have severe injuries, the doctor at the hospital may tell you there is nothing wrong or nothing seriously wrong and that you may be sore for a few days. The doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or simply tell you to follow up with your family doctor. Unless you really need surgery why would you go to an orthopedic surgeon? Because your attorney wants you too. It makes your case look better. That’s also why many attorneys prefer you go to the Emergency Room when in a car crash. They want it documented that you did go to the Emergency Room and preferably by ambulance.
The next issue is do you really need an attorney? No, not in every case although some attorneys will disagree with me. Some people end up seeing one of those attorneys that advertise heavily on TV. While this is OK, some of these law firms see so many people you probably will never speak with the attorney but will talk with the paralegal. Some of these attorneys don’t even live in El Paso. They also will send you to one of their “preferred” clinics for your treatments. The treatments are sometimes not the BEST. If you are in this situation and you are not getting results or are not happy going there for whatever reason, you have the right to switch doctors. You DO NOT need to get permission form your attorney. A recent new patient of mine told me this happened to her and she only saw the Chiropractor one time during her entire treatment . Her case settled she got a small amount of money and she still hurts. This is in essence YOUR money being spent. It should be money well spent. You have the right to choose where you go and get treated. You want to go where the doctor has a good reputation and where you will get the BEST RESULTS. Likewise you want an attorney who is going to really look after you and not just his/her bank account. Most attorneys DO NOT help you with the settlement of your car or getting a rental car. If the insurance company is going to give you a less than fair amount for your car who will fight for you. Be smart and don’t believe everything you see on TV commercials.
There are some people that may have been involved in a minor car crash and think they are not really hurt. They think they are just a little sore or have very mild pain. When the soreness or mild pain usually does go away they think they are OK. Because the mild pain or soreness went away this may not necessarily be an indication that everything is OK. Too often I have seen many patients come back a month or two or years later complaining now of headaches, back or neck pain.
In other cases, the pain never really goes away but lingers. Because the pain is very mild and tolerable some people will not go and get examined. This is not very smart because the spine could be injured and misaligned. This may cause mild pain, some discomfort or NO pain at all. If the spine is not properly aligned and corrected it can develop into osteoarthritis, disc problems and affect you in the future.
There are many other issues like…”Where do I have to take my car to get fixed?” “Will they use new or used parts?” “Am I entitled to a rental car while my car is getting fixed”? “How long can I keep the rental car?” There are other issues involving your car, your medical treatments and your compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages etc. The important thing is…. if you have been involved in ANY type of car crash CALL ME RIGHT AWAY!! Don’t put if off thinking you have to get approval from the insurance company. Many times they waste precious time and stall in returning your phone calls or they will offer you a few hundred dollars in hopes that you accept and sign a waiver to any future claims. DO NOT sign that disclaimer. One final note…. take pictures of all vehicles involved and of any bruises or cuts you may have. The police report may state there was minor damage when it was not. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Also, keep a simple pain journal explaining how the pain has affected your life.
I have successfully been treating these types of injuries for over 23 years. I want to help you get the best treatment you are entitled to and deserve. Call today to schedule your free consultation.
Dr. Carlos M. Gonzalez 915-383-CARE (2273)
© Copyright -Updated February 2013 Dr. Carlos M. Gonzalez