1 1 "What to do if you re in a car accident?" Quick Tips and Facts 10 most common questions asked by people in an auto accident. Dr. Brent Baldasare
2 2 INTRODUCTION It happens in a split second, in the blink of an eye. You have been in a car accident. Maybe you were hit from behind and didn t even see it coming. Maybe you had a fraction of a second to know it was unavoidable. Either way it is still a terrifying moment. The first few minutes after the crash your heart starts racing and adrenaline begins to course through your body. Is everyone alive? Is anyone bleeding? Any life threatening injuries? Any broken bones? Driving is perhaps the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008, there were more than 5.8 million police-reported traffic crashes in which 37,261 people were killed and more than 2.3 million injured in the United States. You may do your best to drive responsibly and defensively but the accident happened because of traffic speed, the type of car, the operational characteristics of the road, traffic flow, intoxication, pedestrian activity, driver experience, attitude or training. Clearly, accidents are a part of life in America. Obviously, it is difficult to think clearly after an auto accident, so it is crucial to know before you get into an accident what to do first and what questions may need to be answered. The checklist at the end of the ebook can be printed out and placed in the glove compartment of all of your family cars and will help walk you through the steps. There is too much confusion and misinformation out there. There are countless stories out there about people paying a steep price for being misinformed and confused about what to do after an auto accident. Too often, victims of accidents make mistakes, assuming things about medical care and legal liability that are not true. Those mistakes cost them. It is my hope that this ebook will prove to be a Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
3 3 useful guide about the steps you should take if you are in an automobile accident, especially ones that result in injury. I was in an auto accident what do I do first? The first thing you need to do is read through the printable list on pages The second thing you need to do is to schedule an appointment to be evaluated by a specialist in soft tissues injuries. It is important to remember that immediately following the accident, even a minor fender bender, there is a release of adrenaline that courses through your body. The adrenaline will mask the pain you may later feel. A lot of people have the experience of feeling fine when they walk away from the accident and wake up in the days following the crash feeling like, well like they ve been hit by a truck. You should get checked out immediately after an auto accident even if you just feel sore because you may experience fatigue, muscle stiffness, headaches, pain, numbness and other problems including arthritis many months down the road. Remember, your health is the most important thing to you, especially when you start to lose it. Auto accidents can cause post-traumatic osteoarthritis, which can ruin your posture, give you a hump back appearance and cause the discs in your spine to degenerate and create scar tissue formation leading to chronic stiffness and the inability to move properly. As a matter of fact most doctors are not trained to detect or properly treat these hidden injuries. If you happen to be in an auto accident then you need a doctor who is trained in human bio-mechanics. The best doctors to choose are doctors who deal with treating these types of injuries EVERYDAY. The feeling of stress is common after an automobile accident. Sometimes the feeling can be delayed and is not experienced until days or weeks later. Sometimes the pain of an auto accident is just as frustrating as dealing with the legal and
4 4 financial problems that can arise after the accident. It may very well be that your auto accident injuries are hidden and not detected even after a visit to the hospital. As a result of this you may rush to settle your case with the insurance companies before getting evaluated by a doctor trained in soft tissue injuries and regret your decision later.... This Could Be A Big Mistake. Why is that? Well, you risk losing the right to have your insurance company pay for treatment, if you need it, if you prematurely settle your case. My advice to victims of auto accidents is to take the steps to be informed of your rights prior to settling the claim. If you get injured, seek first to obtain the care you need to get back to your pre-accident state because it is not the obligation of the insurance company to pay in excess of your claim. The insurance company is only responsible for post-accident injuries sustained from the accident, not pre-existing injuries. Here's where the problem begins... Most people who experience an auto accident have only one thing on their mind, and that is their automobile! People ask the wrong questions, or the less important questions, like "Who is going to repair my car?", What will I drive in the mean time?"; "Will my insurance rates increase?" or "Who will pay for it?" Too often, the last thing on a person s mind is "Am I really ok?" Are you ok is really the first and most important question that a victim of a car accident should ask. In my clinic, we evaluate auto accident victims and make appropriate referrals to other health care providers if needed. We take x-rays to find out if there has been Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
5 5 any structural damage. Our primary responsibility is to give you the care that you need and submit the required medical reports to the insurance company in order to protect your rights. If we are not in a position to help you, we will refer you to a doctor or facility that can. This is the type of office I recommend you look for to receive care. Your injury should be evaluated by a specialist trained in soft tissue injuries to objectively determine if the injury was a result of the accident, and prescribe an effective care plan to minimize any long term damage. Should I See An Attorney Before I See My Doctor? Get checked out by your doctor first. Always put your health first. The findings from the exam can save you money. It will provide you with the information you need in order to determine if you need an attorney. Most private practices in your town know reputable attorneys to refer you if necessary. And most of these clinics offer some level of a free consultation, you may just have to call and ask for it. You want to feel comfortable in the office and see if the doctor and staff appear competent and professional, after all you may be treating for several months. What If My Car Sustained Only Minor Damage? Just because you think your accident is a little fender bender does not mean you should not have yourself examined by a medical professional. Sometimes minor accidents lead to major injuries. Have you ever heard about elastic collisions? Elastic collisions occur when cars bounce off each other with little damage to the car. Oftentimes, the occupants of the cars focus on the external conditions of the car without realizing that energy was transferred though them in ways that cause hidden injuries. Our clinic has an easy test that we can do to detect these types of injuries.
6 6 Get checked out, even if you don't feel anything at the moment of the accident. Whiplash injuries can come into the picture weeks and months later, even in minor accidents. Whiplash is by far the most common injury to the neck. It is caused by any sudden movement of your head which results in damage to your ligaments, other connective tissues in the upper back and neck and supporting tissues. Do not wait until your damage from the injury becomes permanent. Studies have shown that years after whiplash victims have settled their insurance claims roughly half of them state they still suffer from their injuries. The incidence of neck spinal arthritis can be increased by 10 years with a single whiplash injury compared to someone who has not been in a whiplash accident. Paul McAtee, M.D., Charles Carroll, M.D., Lee Riley, M.D. and other health care professions have conducted studies which reveal that the extent of damage to a vehicle bears little relation to the amount of force that might be applied to the neck or spine of the occupant. The damage to the passenger may not be directly related to the damage to the vehicle. In one study, 39% of the patients involved in minor accidents had neck disc arthritis. (The Cervical Spine Research Society, 1989). In another study, 55% of the patients with preexisting degenerative arthritis in the neck, involved in minor accidents, had developed new degenerative changes at another level in their neck. (The Cervical Spine Research Society, 1989). If I Need Treatment For This Injury, Do I Have To Pay For It Myself? There is usually very little if any out of pocket expense. It is only in very rare circumstances that the patient is asked to pay for his care as he goes. When a patient is represented by an attorney, most offices provide care on credit. Some auto insurance policies provide "Med Pay." This simply means medical bills will be paid at 100%, up to a certain limit. We can help you to obtain this information if you are being seen in our office. Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
7 7 The Insurance Company Has Been Calling Me And Wants To Settle, What Should I Do? A lot of people involved in an accident have no issues with their insurance company. They get treatment, they get better, the insurance covers the care, and they move on with their lives and don t have a need for an attorney. Then there are people who want it all to be over so they rush to settle prematurely without an evaluation and regret it later. Don t sign a settlement agreement until you are evaluated by a soft tissue specialist. You will be completely on your own if you settle before your injury is fully resolved. It is in this situation that you will have to pay out of pocket for your care. I have seen cases when an adjuster is very friendly and convinces the accident victim they will be fine in a few days and offers them a few hundred dollars to settle immediately or they record a statement and use techniques to lead the statements to sound very minimizing. This is a mistake. Never agree to a recorded statement with the insurance company without legal representation. Believe me they have powerful legal representation on their side and special training on how to handle you. You need an expert to protect you in this situation. Most attorneys will assist you for free or on a contingency in hopes you will sign up with them as a client, and in most cases you will because if you find a good one their job is to protect your rights and make sure you receive the full benefits of the insurance policy you have been paying for all these years. I've Been To The Hospital And My Medical Doctor, Do I Really Need to See a Chiropractor?
8 8 Hospitals will usually check your vital signs, ensure you have no life-threatening conditions then release you with pain relief medication. What you need is a doctor whose focus is in the treatment and diagnosis of auto accident injuries, you need a chiropractor or a highly specialized physician, because hospitals and medical doctors do not usually treat the underlying improper musculoskeletal biomechanics that can and often do lead to future pain. When pain sets in your body that is a sign that something is interfering with your body s ability to heal and regulate itself. Chiropractors are the ONLY health professionals that are uniquely trained to locate, and remove these interferences so that your body can heal itself. Get a second opinion if you are still having problems. Your medical doctor might have prescribed pills for you, but you must understand that pills do not correct soft tissue or structural damage. Special therapies are designed for that, and most chiropractors offer these services to treat the cause not the symptom. If you have sustained an injury in an automobile accident, we can help you. I know how important it is to have a compassionate doctor and competent healthcare team working to get you back to your top physical and emotional health. My experience with a severe injury has helped me relate better to my patients. The story of my battle with physical injury and pain began on a football field in my senior year of college. My football career came to an abrupt end during the last game of my senior year at college. During that game I sustained a paralyzing low back injury. I was devastated by the event. I thought my life was over and things would never be the same. Today I have overcome those injuries that I sustained in that last game. I attribute my amazing recovery to the chiropractic treatment and physical therapy I received. Out of my personal and life changing experience with chiropractic grew my enthusiasm to become a chiropractor. My service is personal. I pay attention to each of my patients. I aim to inspire them to be responsible for their own health and be a partner on their healthcare team. The doctors at my clinic can provide treatment and wellness care for the entire family after an auto accident. I welcome the fearful patients, the curious, the Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
9 9 skeptic and the somewhat frightened newbie to chiropractic. I guarantee you will be treated with respect and dignity regardless of your condition or coverage. Even if you re not one of my patients my goal here is to inform you and help you by giving you real answers to your questions and concerns. Does Your Care Hurt? Our care does not hurt. It s actually the contrary. Patients always comment that out treatment is very gentle and quite soothing. There is no need to be nervous about getting care. Is The Care Safe? It is extremely safe! I would even consider it safer than most techniques recommended by some medical doctors. Our treatment will allow you to avoid the many side effects that you would be exposed to if you pursue treatment with medication. Don t take it from us. Listen to what our patients have to say. For example, Ultimate Fighter, Ben Saunders, says this about our his treatment: "As a professional MMA fighter it's important for me to be in my best shape. I can't just let anybody work on me. I want the best doctors, trainers and coaches. These guys do a phenomenal job. I m trained to manipulate the joints and get people to TAP OUT; these guys do just the opposite and are trained to put the joints back in proper position. I feel revitalized after my treatment." What do you specialize in?
10 10 We specialize in back and neck pain from auto or sports injuries, sciatica, pain down the arms and bulging disc. We have physicians who have experience in treating these types of injuries. Over 80% of our patients with these types of injuries report significant relief during the first six weeks of care. Call today to be checked if you have been injured in an accident. You reduce your chances of long term problems with early treatment. We concentrate on Comfort Techniques. We are your preferred injury doctor and accident helpline. We have state of the art chiropractic treatment rooms designed for easy access and a healing environment. We have pediatric chiropractors who know how to be safe and gentle with kids. In fact, kids normally enjoy their visits. We also offer the safest and latest spa equipment and services to pamper you and make you look and feel beautiful! Don t assume you escaped injury after a motor vehicle accident because you did not at the time experience any pain. Today is the day for you to take responsibility for your own health. You can contact our office manager for a free consultation to discuss your problem at (Deb Shepherd - Office Manager) What s the Healing Time? It can take up to 12 months for soft tissues injured to become completely healed. (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1986) It may take on average 7 months for a whiplash-injured patient to achieve maximum improvement. (Spine, 1994) It may conversely take some whiplash-injured patients 2 years to stabilize and reach their maximum improvement. Most patients feel significantly better within the first six weeks of care. Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
11 11 What are my payment options? Most offices accept commercial insurance programs including Medicare, and PIP insurance. Most offices can arrange flexible payment programs for patients who have little or no chiropractic insurance coverage. Plans and coverage vary widely. You can usually call to find out if your plan covers care in an office prior to treatment. In our office our staff will, at no charge, verify and explain your benefits before treatment. Will my insurance premium increase if I file a claim? I know you may be reluctant to file a claim because you may be afraid that your premiums may increase or be canceled, but the truth is every auto insurance company varies. Each company is entitled to have their own practice for increasing premiums because of claims. It is essential for you to know how your insurer will treat your claim. Some will increase your premium if you are at fault. Most insurance companies are prevented by law from raising your rates, in Florida, if the accident was not your fault. Bear in mind that any increase in insurance premiums may only be temporary and your rates will likely go back to normal after three years depending on the number and type of claims you have filed. Also it is never an option for you not to file a claim after an accident especially when it involves another driver or vehicle.
12 12 What if my accident was last year do I still have a claim? We can still help you if your accident happened in the last three years. But don't delay any longer. There are statutes of limitation (time limits) that affect how long you have to file a claim. Author s Biography Dr. Brent Baldasare is licensed by the Florida Board of Chiropractic. He has advanced training in soft tissue injury, vertebral joint motion analysis and corrective care. He first experienced chiropractic treatment after a paralyzing college football injury. The injuries he sustained were permanent lower back injuries. He attributes his amazing recovery to a team of caring chiropractors, physical therapists and friends. Dr. Baldasare received his B.S. degree from Ursinus College in Philadelphia, Pa., and his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life University in Atlanta, Ga. He interned in Atlanta, Ga., specializing in pediatric chiropractic and family wellness. His externship was completed in Orlando, FL. where he specialized in personal and sports injuries. He is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Association, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, the American Chiropractic Association, the International Chiropractic Association, the World Chiropractic Alliance, and the Florida Chiropractic Society. If you have a problem with your spine from an auto accident or poor posture, Dr. Baldasare provides corrective solutions to your problem. Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
13 13 He employs a drug-free approach to the healing of a whole range of auto injuries. He knows for certain, any time you put a synthetic chemical into your body there will be a consequence that disrupts the natural order of your body's function. He is trained to adjust the body back to its original form to leave you feeling revitalized. For more information about Dr. Brent Baldasare visit Legal Disclaimer: The materials in this ebook are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or medical advice. You should contact your attorney and/or doctor to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this ebook or any of the links contained within this ebook do not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Brent Baldasare and the user or browser. The opinions expressed in or through this ebook are the opinions of the individual author.
14 14 Auto Accident Check List 1. Check to see if you or any passengers with you were injured in the automobile accident. Do not hesitate to call 911 for medical help if anyone needs medical attention. If anyone is unconscious, it is best not to move them unless absolutely necessary as moving them could make their injuries worse. If you must move injured people, make sure to keep their head and neck supported the entire time. 2. Safely get out of the way of traffic. If your car does not work, turn on your warning lights or open your hood to warn other drivers in the area. Your safety is most important. 3. Call the police if the auto accident involves damage, injury or death. 4. Obtain information from the all other drivers and witnesses involved in the car accident, including: Name: Address: City: Telephone Numbers (mobile, home & work): Insurance Company: Policy Number: Coverage Limits (liability): Drivers License: 5. Obtain police officers information: Name: Badge Number: City: 6. Write down the car accident information: Date: Time: Other car description: Make: Model: Year: Color: State: Car License Plate Number: Affinity Health & Wellness Center, PL Copyright 2011 all right reserved.
15 15 7. Take pictures of everything involved in the car accident, as long as it can be done safely. These pictures should include each car driver, each automobile in the car accident showing any property damage, skid marks, any other damage to property, as well as the location of the automobile accident. The more pictures the better. When in doubt, take pictures. Pictures may help your automobile insurance company determine how much you should be paid for your injuries. 8. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. Sometimes there are injuries right after an accident takes place, but many people who are injured do not realize it right after an accident. Therefore, it is always wise to see your doctor to make sure that you are ok. If you live in Orlando, Florida - Dr. Brent Baldasare can be reached at or If you need help finding someone near you call him and his staff can do a search for a qualified doctor. 9. Before settling or recording a statement to the insurance company, make sure to consult an experienced auto accident attorney. Many times the insurance companies will try to settle for less than you deserve, especially when injuries are involved. It is a great idea to find out all of your options with a FREE telephone or office consultation from an attorney. 10. Create an auto accident diagram. This guide might help.