avoiding car crash

Neck and Back Pain After a Car Crash: What to Do

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

If you were involved in a car crash and are suffering from pain in your neck and/or back, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to make the pain go away. For some lucky individuals, taking a few painkiller pills and getting good rest is enough for whiplash symptoms to go away. These are the lucky few. For most people, severe whiplash following a car accident can lead to months and sometimes years of neck and back pain. To add insult to injury, if the car crash wasn’t your fault, you’re now stuck with the headache of getting your car fixed, and face a potentially long road of physical recovery.

See a Doctor

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

The severity of your back pain may be difficult to diagnose by yourself. For example, strained muscles may very well heal on their own without significant medical treatment. However, if you have suffered damage to the vertebrae in your spine, you may not get better without medical treatment. Only a doctor that can give a qualified examination and order the appropriate diagnostic studies such as x-rays and MRI scans will be able to figure out what is going on in your back and neck. To make matters more difficult, many people suffer acute pain for a variety of injuries to their back, not being able to differentiate between the injuries. Some of the pain may go away, some may get worse.

Many people injured in car accidents are afraid to ask their attorney or their medical doctor for advice regarding treatment because of their insurance situation. Many people have high deductibles, or do not have health insurance. If you were not at fault for the car accident, a good lawyer can make sure you are able to receive the care you need. After all, you wouldn’t require medical attention if not for the negligence of someone else, so many personal injury law firms are able to help point you in the right direction. At the very least, you should go to an urgent care office to get checked out.

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Attend All Treatment

Most doctors prescribe a regimen of treatment to address your injuries following a car crash. This often includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, possibly acupuncture, and a variety of other treatment options. These options are for what are called “soft tissue injuries,” and many people benefit from this treatment.

One way that insurance companies deny payment for medical treatment is by saying the patient was non-compliant with the treatment the doctor prescribed. If the doctor says attend three chiropractic appointments a week for six weeks, but you only attend three appointments total, you’re unlikely to have future treatment paid for. Do what the doctors tell you to do. Your attorney will make sure the bills are paid for, but can only do this if you attend all your appointments and are in all ways compliant with the doctor’s treatment plan.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

Keep a Treatment and Pain Journal

Pain affects everyone differently. For some people, a 2-3 mm disc bulge in their spine will be immensely painful; for other people, the same injury will not bother them much. For this reason, insurance adjusters often justify low settlement offers by trying to categorize your injury with the “average” pain and suffering involved in such an injury. There is no “average” injury, of course, when it comes to your health. Your financial recovery should not depend on how much pain other people feel. For this reason, if you keep track of your pain levels in a notebook, you can track the ways in which your injury have affected your life, and later use this to prove to insurance adjusters that you were in fact injured, and that the consequences of their insured’s causing an accident have affected your day to day life.

Call an Injury Attorney

Not many people want to get lawyers involved in their problems. The challenge with injury cases is you usually don’t have experience or an understanding as to how the claims process works. Thus, you don’t know what you don’t know, and are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to knowing whether you’re getting taken advantage of, or whether the insurance company is treating you fairly. Ask a lawyer who practices injury law your questions. You will have a better understanding of how the claims process works. Just because you call a lawyer does not mean you have to sign up with a lawyer and take your case to trial. In fact, the involvement of an injury lawyer in your case may mean you’re less likely to end up in court. Why? Because insurance companies know that if a good lawyer is involved in representing you for your injury, they are often better off playing fair and paying you a fair settlement for your claim than going to court.

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Think Long Term

If you hurt your neck or back following a crash, you may have a day where you feel better, followed by several days of pain. You’re unlikely to feel the same way every day. This means you have to think long-term about the severity of your injury. Will you feel better in a month? Will you feel better in a year, or in ten years. Will you ever feel better? Remember that the person who caused the crash is legally responsible for making you whole again. That means you should be put back in the position you were in before the crash, both financially and physically. The law protects the injured for their long term health, but you have to do your part to think ahead. You can’t simply decide a year after a car accident that you’re still in pain and start going to the doctor and expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your medical treatment. You have to think long term from day one, or as close to day one (the date that you were injured) as possible.

Southern California Car Crash Hotspots

Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Anyone who has driven on the congested roads in Southern California can attest to the unique driving conditions here in comparison to other parts of the country. Every day, tens of millions of people take to the roads of Southern California, particularly in the metro areas of Orange County and Los Angeles County. Where do most car crashes happen in Southern California, you may ask? A quick review of where you’re most likely to end up in a traffic collision could help you pay extra attention when you’re driving in these areas.

Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Los Angeles Metro Area

For those driving in Los Angeles, there are a few areas that experience consistent traffic congestion, meaning the areas are often in stop and go traffic, which tends to result in more rear end crashes. Pay attention to on and off ramps, especially those near major freeways like the 110, the 405 Freeway, and the 5 Freeway. Other areas that experience higher than normal rates of crashes include areas where traffic merges to 'exit only' ramps. If you've driven in Southern California for long, you know that instead of waiting in line for their turn to exit on a ramp, many drivers will wait until the last possible second, then cut in front of slowed traffic so they don't miss their exit. This causes many rear end crashes.

Remember that Los Angeles is a hub for travelers, meaning many people are in and out of the city who do not live here and therefore do not become acclimated to the unique driving environment. Because there are so many cars on the road, we must acknowledge that lots of the cars that surround us at any given time are driven by people who may not know where they are going exactly (or which road or exit they're looking to turn onto next), or are uncomfortable with the speed of traffic. This can lead to dangerous situations. We are comfortable with our own driving skills, but it is often the people who surround us on the road who create dangerous circumstances.

Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

If you miss your exit, or are lost, it is best to pull off the freeway to a safe spot in order to gather your thoughts and plan your route. Do not try to keep driving while fiddling with a GPS device or an app on your phone; distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crashes in Los Angeles, and often results in injury. If you are about to miss your exit, let it happen and move on - forcing your way into traffic, especially during peak hours, can result in danger situations, where you, your passengers, or other drivers may be seriously injured.

Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Los Angeles can be a difficult place for any driver. It is normal to get lost occasionally, to miss an exit, or to get stuck in frustratingly slow traffic. Fortunately, planning ahead, knowing which part of Los Angeles is experiencing high volumes of traffic at the time your are planning to travel, and adhering to defensive driving techniques can all help you avoid a traffic collision. 

Orange County Metro Area

Orange County also has several areas that experience frequent traffic, and these areas have more car crashes than most areas. As is the case in any big city or metropolitan area, the onramps and off ramps of the freeways are areas where car crashes are frequent. Orange County drivers will attest to the predictably bad traffic in a few areas in particular. The 55 Freeway, which connects the 405 Freeway and the 5 Freeway, is almost always stop and go traffic during the day. Additionally, the 55 Freeway has a juncture with the 405 Freeway close to John Wayne Airport, so there is more traffic in that area due to people coming and going to the airport.

The 5 Freeway runs north and south through California, connecting San Diego and Orange County, Los Angeles, all the way up to the northern parts of the state. Thus, there is a lot of commercial traffic on this thoroughfare. Many large semi trucks use the 5 Freeway, and traffic can move at a very fast pace when it isn’t stop and go. This means speeds of 85 miles per hour are not unusual in the left hand lanes of traffic. Average speed, when traffic is moving, is around 80 miles per hour in the left hand lanes and the carpool lane. Many onramps have traffic lights, meaning you must stop and wait for a green signal before merging onto the freeway. Thus, there are cars entering traffic that start at a standstill, or zero miles per hour, that are trying to merge with traffic traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour. This results in many car crashes.

Driving Safely in High Traffic Areas

If you’re not used to driving in heavy traffic, Orange and Los Angeles counties can be an anxious and stressful experience. A few tips may be helpful to remember when you are navigating these areas:

  • Anticipate traffic at onramps and off ramps, and proceed through these areas with caution.
  • Anticipate traffic near airports. Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport are the busiest airports in LA County and Orange County, but there are many other airports that also experience heavy car traffic in these counties as well.
  • Remember what hours tend to be “rush hour” traffic hours. Millions of people commute to and from work using the freeways. Mornings from around 6:30 to around 9 a.m. tend to be busy traffic hours; evenings from 4 p.m. to around 7 p.m. tend to experience high volumes of traffic throughout California metropolitan areas. 
  • Stop and go traffic is part of life in California. Give yourself plenty of space, and don’t be in a rush.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, even if you think you’re driving too slowly to be injured. Just because you’re driving slow doesn’t mean someone won’t rear end you at a high rate of speed, a crash that can result in severe injury.
  • Know where you’re going before you get in the car. If you need to use a navigation aid on your phone, set the address prior to starting your drive. Trying to drive in heavy traffic is stressful enough, and adding the task of entering addresses into your phone can distract you. If the device is already set to give you directions before you embark on your journey, you are less likely to be distracted, and therefore are less likely to be involved in a car crash.
  • Plan ahead. Leaving half an hour early can sometimes mean saving yourself from sitting in traffic for hours. This is especially true when you are trying to arrive at your destination during or around rush hour traffic. If you can, it is often worth it to drive to your destination early in order to avoid heavy Los Angeles or Costa Mesa commuter traffic.
  • Check traffic apps before starting your drive to make sure there are no road closures or car crashes that are obstructing traffic. Whatever your choice of app, many apps can help you predict where the worst traffic is likely to be so you can avoid areas of extreme or abnormal congestion. Many radio stations will also give live updates on traffic conditions during rush hour so you can avoid car crashes, which often result in road closures, or the number of lanes being reduced.
Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Know the Area You’re Heading To

If you’re driving to a destination that is new to you, familiarize yourself with the area ahead of time. This means looking at a map of the area, or using Google to get some insight into what kinds f area you’re driving to. Are there schools or major shopping areas nearby that will result in high traffic? Is the neighborhood you’re heading to a place where there are lots of office towers, meaning that around rush hour there will likely be a lot of people coming and going from the area? Is the area perhaps more rural, such that facilities such as gasoline stations may be few and far between? Is there road construction happening on your route, or are parts your journey experiencing a detour due to any number of reasons? Are there any natural disasters, such as wildfires, that are restricting traffic, or making driving through the region either impossible, or on an “as necessary only” basis? All these questions can likely be answered by spending just a few minutes on the internet prior to getting in your car. Knowing more about your destination will result in your ability to avoid areas that will slow you down. It will also ensure you take a route that is likely to have less traffic, meaning you’re less likely to be involved in a car crash.

 

It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.

It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.