Sandy was driving to work just like she had countless times before, and then CRASH! – out of nowhere her car was hit from the passenger side by another car that ran a stop sign. She pulled over to the side of the road and called the police. She exchanged information with the other driver and gave the police officer her version of the story.
Later that same day, she began to feel sore and developed a nasty headache. She called her chiropractor and scheduled an appointment for the next day.
She began treatment with her chiropractor, and the office began billing her insurance for the cost of the care. A couple days later, a representative from the insurance company called her to ask how she was feeling after the accident, and offered to help by sending her a check for her troubles. Sandy said “OK,” and without knowing it, she jeopardized her case. From that point forward, she had to pay for all her future care even though the accident wasn’t her fault.
If Sandy knew what you’re about to learn, this would have never happened and all of her medical bills would have been paid for by the insurance company.
Much like having a plan for you and your family in case of a natural disaster, you should also have a plan and an idea of what to expect if you are involved in a car accident. Common injuries from car accidents, like sprained muscles, torn ligaments, and concussions, may require months of treatment to resolve, so it’s important that you don’t jeopardize your case in the stress-filled days after the accident.
As an upper cervical chiropractor at The Specific Chiropractic Center, I have seen dozens of patients that were involved in car accidents, and unfortunately some of them ended up like Sandy – stuck with a huge bill!
It helps to understand that insurance companies and the agents that work for them handle thousands of these cases every year, and you will only have one accident (hopefully) in your whole life – this puts you at a very big disadvantage. Insurance companies make a profit by keeping the money, and therefore are always looking for ways to absolve themselves from being responsible for the bill by getting you to say and do things that ruin your case.
Following these simple steps will help you protect you and your family:
1. Do NOT give a recorded statement over the phone to the insurance agent. Tell them to speak to your attorney about your case. Attorney? Yes, I recommend you consult an attorney if you’re ever in an accident – even a minor one. It’s a great idea to have the name and number of a personal injury attorney in your phone – for this exact reason.
2. Do NOT cash the $1,000 check the insurance company will send you in the mail “for your injuries” or “for your doctor bills.” If you do cash that check, your case is OVER no matter how many more doctor bills you have in the weeks and months to follow.
3. Do NOT sign any “Medical Authorization” or “Authorization to Release Medical Information” papers the insurance company sends you. This gives the insurance company the right to dig around in your medical history looking for reasons to limit your payments.
Just a little planning now can save you from making a bad day even worse! Again, speaking from experience, I highly recommend that you take some time and find a personal injury attorney in your area whom you would would feel comfortable calling in a time of need, and keep that number in your phone. If you’re ever in an accident, first call the police or 911, and then call your attorney immediately. He or she will advise you on the best course of action, as each case can be different.
And most importantly, no matter who ends up paying the bills, you need to make sure you get the specialized care required to treat the whiplash-type injuries common in car accidents. Look for a chiropractor in your area that has the training and expertise needed to get you the care you deserve!