california 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.

How Gaps in Treatment Affect Injury Claims

One of the frustrations many people experience when trying to settle their personal injury claim with an insurance adjuster is trying to figure out what a “gap in treatment” is, and why the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to pay for some medical treatment. If you were hurt by someone else, and you have medical bills that are the result of treatment you received following the injury, how is it possible that those bills will be your personal financial responsibility, when the reason you have them in the first place is because someone else was negligent? This article will help people who have been injured in a car crash understand what the insurance companies look for.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Chronology of Medical Treatment

Immediately following your injury, which for the sake of using an easy to follow example, we’ll say was the result of a car crash. The law in California is that the person who hurt you must make you “whole” again, or put you in as close to the same condition you were in before the car crash. This means physically, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even socially. So if you were hurt, and you seek medical treatment, it follows that the person who hurt you should pay for your medical bills, right? Yes, and no. The at-fault driver is responsible for reasonable and medically-necessary treatment. So the insurance company can deny payment for medical treatment you receive that they say is not the result of your injury, in this example a car crash.

The most common way an insurance adjuster will deny payment on medical bills is by saying there was an unreasonable gap in treatment. If you wait too long to receive treatment, they will argue that you weren’t really hurt, and that treatment you receive after a gap is not really their insured’s responsibility. So what should you do to make sure the insurance adjuster doesn’t refuse to pay your medical bills by saying you waited too long to treat your injury?

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

The first thing any injury lawyer will advise their attorney to do is get a medical checkup as soon as possible. If you’re hurt, go to a doctor. Go to an urgent care, or an emergency room, if necessary, but if you were injured, you need to have a medical professional document the nature of your injury. From there, you should follow the advice you are given. For example, if you go to your primary care physician and he or she tells you that you require an x-ray, or an MRI, then it is your responsibility to follow up and get the care they tell you is needed. If you don’t do what your doctor says, the insurance companies will say you were non-compliant with recommended treatment. This hurts your claim, and as it relates to the outcome of your case, it is more likely you will receive less compensation during the settlement phase of your injury case.

What is a gap in treatment?

Our office has seen insurance adjusters claim that delays in seeking the advice of a doctor for as little as three days after a car accident is unreasonable. More common, any delays of more than five days after a crash will certainly be disputed, and the longer you go in between treatment, the worse it will be for your case. This can be difficult for single parents and anyone who works, as taking off work, or scheduling a babysitter to make it possible for you to visit a doctor and receive the treatment you need is sometimes a difficult obstacle. A good injury attorney will be able to successfully argue that any gaps were not only reasonable, but that you did everything you could to follow up on medical treatment. After all, the injury was not your fault in the first place, so you should not have to turn your life upside down to go to the doctor.

What is a proper treatment sequence?

If your primary care physician says you need chiropractic care, or physical therapy, generally the minimum number of appointments you should plan on attending is one per week; gaps of more than one week can hurt your claim. Of course, life happens and it can be hard to stay consistent with treatment. The medical benefits of going to a chiropractor or physical therapist are greater if you go more frequently; a good chiropractor or physical therapy office will be able to work around your scheduling conflicts, and give you therapy you can do at home to help alleviate your pain. Most personal injury law firms in California are aware of the good chiropractors and physical therapy offices that help people recover from car accidents, as well as those who perhaps have a reputation of not helping their patients reach a full recovery.

what if I need to return to treatment after a gap?

Unfortunately, many people have no choice but to return to treatment, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, not because their schedule was crazy or they were being lazy, but because their symptoms/injuries returned. That is, after a sequence of treatment at a chiropractor or physical therapist, the doctor says let's see how it goes, and after a few weeks, you realize you are still suffering from pain from the car crash. Most doctors put in their notes that this may happen. This is often referred to as a flair up. Insurance companies do whatever they can to deny paying for these kinds of treatment. In many cases, the only way you'll successfully get them paid for is by hiring an attorney. In fact, this is a common reason people seek advice from an injury lawyer - they have a need to continue medical treatment for their injury, but the at-fault driver's insurance is saying they won't cover the bills.

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Can an Injury Attorney Help?

It is hard to imagine a circumstance where contacting an injury attorney after a car crash would be a bad idea. If nothing else, you'll be able to ask the questions you're wondering about, and get the advice from someone who works on this type of legal case every day. Gaps in treatment can hurt your claim, but not all "gaps" that insurance adjusters deny are fairly denied. Keep in mind that the best attorney to answer your question may not be in town. This is normal, and most injury firms that practice exclusively injury law in California represent clients throughout the state. If you live in a rural area or small town, chances are the best injury lawyer to consult with is not close by. However, many law firms in areas of California with greater populations, such as Orange County and Los Angeles County, are able to fully service clients that live within the state of California, with ease using technology. 

 

The Most Dangerous Cities in California: Why, and What You Should Know

California residents are no stranger to the topic of crime and danger, as many cities in California have a reputation of being busy, densely populated areas, which are sometimes affiliated with high crime rates. How much of this stigma is true, and should you worry about it? A recent article discussed the data and ranked the ten most-dangerous cities, adding data to the discussions and resulting in some surprising results. While the article focused on crime rates and property crime, it failed to take into consideration a few key data points, such as number of traffic accident fatalities.

The California "Dangerous Index"

First, the California cities shown on the index below obviously are home to many residents, but not all the cities are major towns. For example, of the most dangerous, according to this index, only Barstow, San Bernardino, and Santa Cruz are actually large communities. Emeryville, which is the most dangerous California city, is home to approximately 12,000 people; Red Bluff is home to approximately 14,000 people, and Commerce being home to only about 14,000. Also take into consideration what the study is measuring - property crime. Commerce, California is an industrial and shipping city, so there are hundreds of warehouses, so it makes sense that there would be more property crime there.

Consider Other Factors

The authors of this article were direct in saying their article was "infotainment," so it is not by any means meant to be a conclusive study. However, if you're wondering what other factors to consider about whether a city or region in California is safe or dangerous, crime rate, including violent crime, car accident rates, fatality rates for youth and adults, and other metrics should be taken into account. For example, consider that the total number of car accident deaths in a single year (2013) in Southern California were as follows: Los Angeles County, 630 traffic deaths; County of Orange, 185 traffic deaths; Riverside County, 225 traffic deaths; San Bernardino County, 264 traffic deaths; County of San Diego, 201 traffic deaths. When considering where to live in California, this statistic may be more insightful into the safety of an area than the rate of property crime.

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It is also important to remember that statistics often are over general. For example, in 2013, 32 percent of all drivers killed in a car crash in California tested positive for drugs, legal and illegal. So even if an area has a high number of traffic related deaths, it does not mean that area is necessarily inherently dangerous, because in many of the statistics, personal decisions were involved, such as the driver who ends up dying in a motor vehicle accident being the one who decided to take drugs or drive while under the influence of alcohol or prescription medicine. 

True Threats to Safety

When deciding where to visit or live in California, people serious about making the move or visit will obviously look at many factors. Of course violent crime is an important statistic to look at, but many California cities have low crime rates compared to similarly sized cities in other states or part of the country. Consider the number one cause of death of adolescents is unintentional injury, and in that category, traffic related crashes resulting in death are the number one cause of death. So whether or not an area is safe to drive in may be a bigger threat to your family's safety than the property crime rate. Of course, the more cars, the more car crashes, and the more injuries related to car crashes are likely to happen. Because California has so many residents living in many large cities, there are lots of traffic related deaths in these cities, such as Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area. 

 

Deaths From Injuries Rising Among Youth in America

CNN published findings from a report today in which the rise in accidental deaths among young people in America are analyzed. For many years, the total death rate among 10-19 year olds declined significantly, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decrease was between the years 1999 and 2013 and represented a 33% decrease in accidental deaths; however, between 2013 and 2016, the death rate rose 12%. Tragically, car accident fatalities play a large role in the uptick. 

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The increase in accidental deaths and serious injuries is not only attributed to car crashes, however. As the table below shows, drowning, suicide, homicide, and poisoning are also causing more deaths in recent years than in the past. Many experts point the blame at easily accessible recreational drugs and social media. Even as other causes of death and permanent injury rise in other areas, the fact remains that among 10 to 19 year-old adolescents, traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2015. The US Department of Health and Human Services' report entitled Deaths: Leading Causes for 2015 is an easy to read, informative study that would likely be of tremendous value to parents of children and teenagers. If nothing else, it gives parents and youth alike an objective reference point that shows the dangers young people around the world face. As parents often face a challenge from teenagers not wanting to hear it from their mom or dad, the study and data are indisputible proof that car accidents (shown in the table as "motor vehicle traffic") is, without question, a serious cause of unintentional injury and death among youth. 

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Parents interested in the data presented in this study may also benefit from visiting the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks public health data and includes statistics on vital matters such as traffic deaths, pedestrian versus auto deaths and injury, and drug and alcohol-related injury and death. 

What Can Concerned Parents Do?

The statistics showing an increase in traffic deaths do not specifically mention California, but California drivers are part of the data set, and the causes of death and injury most certainly apply to young people living here.  Parents can first help their families and loved ones by being aware of the threats and familiarizing themselves with the numbers. Once parents understand the threats to young peoples' safety, they can have a more insightful conversation with their kids and teenagers about the issues. Some marriage and family therapists recommend printing off data such as the studies referenced here, and allowing the teenager or young adult to review the material for themselves before trying to talk too in depth about the issue. Jumping right into it can come off as "preachy," and many young teenagers are becoming more comfortable with their own analysis skills and ability to form an educated opinion. Have them read it and ask them what they think.

Set Rules, Set an Example

Car accident deaths are often the result of a bad combination of texting while driving, alcohol or drug use, careless or distracted driving, or any combination of these factors. Checking your phone when driving can be a against family rules, for example, although for the rule to have any weight, parents must obey it too! The more young people see their parents practicing safe driving habits, the more likely they are to incorporate these habits into their own driving.

Discuss The Obvious

California residents who have driven here for a long time sometimes do not realize that our roads are, in many ways, not the norm. Not everyone is aware that the bad traffic and seemingly crazy driving on the 405 and 5 Freeways are actually especially dangerous and chaotic - not every freeway or highway is like this. In Southern California, for example, we have some of the most dense population, with the large majority of working adults commuting to and from work in their own vehicle, instead of using public transportation. This presents a unique challenge - our roads are more busy, and the volume of drivers using our roads and freeways is extremely high. Young drivers need to know that not only are they relatively new to the challenges and dangers of operating powerful and heavy vehicles, they are doing so in an especially dangerous place. It's ok to discuss the frequent car accidents and scary crashes we see on the side of the road with our teenagers. After all, many of California's metro areas are among the most dangerous driving thoroughfares in the country! 

Helping Teenagers Respond to Crashes

Despite our best efforts, parents cannot prevent crashes, and whether or not it was your teenager's fault that a car crash happened, your loved one needs to know how to respond in the event they are part of a car wreck. They need to know that they have to pull over and call the police if anyone was injured. They may not know that they need to take photos of the scene of the crash, ask that a California Highway Patrol report, or local police report, be taken. Your loved one should know that if they may be hurt or injured, they need to seek proper medical attention, which may include an ambulance ride to a nearby hospital or urgent care facility in order to assess their injury.

Many teenagers will resist this, but it can be a crucial step in diagnosing the extent of their injury. In California, the police and Highway Patrol are supposed to ask if the injured wants to be transported to a hospital. Also, teenagers are in the stage of life where they are starting to understand money and financial constraints, so they should know that if they do take the ambulance or go to the doctor, the other driver's insurance company can be held responsible for paying the bills (assuming the car crash wasn't their fault). Taking photos of the scene of the wreck is an easy one for young drivers to do, but some don't know that they should take pictures of the vehicles involved, the scene of the crash, the surrounding area, and any bruises or lacerations they may have gotten during the car crash. 

Seek Appropriate Counsel

After a car accident, adults and teenagers alike may have questions - this is normal, and the road to financial and physical recovery can be tricky and confusing. Dealing with medical bills, police reports, insurance companies and auto repair shops can take a toll on your wallet and your nerves. Depending on the extent of your injuries, it may be wise to discuss your crash and your injury with a lawyer or attorney who handles personal injury cases. There are many injury law firms in California who handle cases throughout the state. A good injury attorney will be able to point you in the right direction, give you a general evaluation or assessment of the value and strength of your case, and help you get a fair and reasonable settlement for your pain and suffering. You should never have to pay up front, as most law firms who handle injury cases work on a contingency fee and only take a fee if they win your case.