No one expects to wake up in the morning and that day and be in an auto accident. However, California roadways are more congested than ever (although the pandemic has temporarily made roadways more tolerable). As such, more people on the road equals more traffic accidents. You don't plan on getting into an accident. By definition, an accident is an unexpected event.
Imagine you are driving down the street and suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see something moving towards you. Next thing you know, someone has t-boned your vehicle. You are shocked, and your adrenaline started pumping. What do you do? Here is an acronym that might help: SAFE
S – Safety First
First, check and assess injuries - yours and any passengers. If you feel you are too injured to move, don’t! Call 911 and wait for emergency personnel. If you get out of your vehicle, be careful. Other vehicles may still be driving around you. Turn on your hazard lights and if you are able to move to the sidewalk or out of traffic, remember to do it safely.
A – Alert Authorities
If you think anyone might be badly injured, call 911. They will ask if anyone is injured. If so, they will send emergency personnel. This is not the time to get out of your car and start yelling at other people, blaming them for this and that. Now is the time to make sure those who are injured are attended to as quickly as possible.
F – Fact Collection
Try to stay calm. Emotions can run high and these days, you certainly don't want to get caught on cell phone video losing your composure. If you do see someone taking videos of the accident, get their information and see if they will share it with you. Take photos of your own, as many as you can of your vehicle, the other person’s car, the street scene and intersection and anything that might help for later.
E – Exchange Info
When the time is right, try to collect information from all the parties and any witnesses. Sometimes the police will assist you with that. Just stay clear and let them do their job. The exchange of information is essential to work through any sort of claim or legal process that could result from a car accident. Get names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, insurance providers, policy numbers. Use your cell phone to take pictures as writing things down can take too much time.
At the end of the day, you cannot rewind the clock. Just make sure you tend to your injuries. If you are hurt, make sure to get medical attention. Report the accident to your insurance company. Talk to an injury attorney to get advice if you have questions.
After a severe auto accident, your vehicle will definitely need to be repaired. In California, you have the right to take your vehicle to any body shop of your choice. While that sounds like a great idea, you have to be very careful. Whether you proceed through your own insurance company to fix your vehicle or you proceed through the responsible party's insurance company, you should try to choose one of the body shops that's on their "preferred provider" list. It's kind of like going to a doctor that is in your health insurance network. If you go "out of network," or off the "preferred provider" list, that can cause problems.
Body shops that are within and insurance company network already have arrangements with that particular insurance company regarding fees they can charge, whether they be storage fees or tear-down fees (these are fees charged when the body shop expends time and effort tearing down your vehicle to look for additional damage that might be hard to see). They have a trusted relationship and you are less likely to run into problems.
While you can indeed use a body shop of your choice, said body shop may not have those same agreements with the insurance company. Therefore, It is very likely the insurance company will squabble with your chosen body shop over charges the insurance company deems unfair or unreasonable. For example, many body shops will not charge you "storage fee" (a huge profit center for many body shops and tow yards) while the vehicle is waiting to be repaired. Others will charge of storage fee ranging from $50 a day to well over $100 a day. As such, if you choose a body shop that is not within the network, your vehicle might be held hostage as it sits there while the insurance company and the shop squabble over this fee or the other fee.
Therefore, ask the insurance company (whether it be your insurance company or the other insurance company), which local body shops are within their network (i.e., preferred shops). Jot down the 3 or 4 shops they provide. Then research those shops online and decide which shop you're going to pick. In most cases, the shop you choose will be a reputable shop as insurance companies don't like to do work with questionable body shops. They want to work with body shops that will do a good job and will follow through on their work. As such, it is usually preferable in my opinion to choose a body shop that is on the insurance company's preferred provider list.
Perhaps one of the most annoying and persistent problems after a car accident can be tinnitus (often known as "ringing in the ears"). While tinnitus may not be physically painful, life threatening, or require surgery, it can certainly affect an individual and their daily life. It's a persistent and pervasive problem that may never go away.
The condition is basically characterized by the feeling a "constant sound" for which there is no external source. In short, people with tinnitus perceive a constant sound and hear it all the time. Sometimes, it's more prevalent when the surroundings are silent (like when going to sleep). The sound victims of tinnitus hear is often described as a persistent buzzing or "ringing" in the ear. Sometimes it is very high pitch, like a buzz saw.
Many people have experienced tinnitus during their lifetime, even without being involved in a car accident or without having some type of underlying disease or medical condition. In most cases, it is difficult to identify the cause. Sometimes taking certain medications like aspirin can cause temporary tinnitus. However, when tinnitus persists, there are times when people simply have to learn to live with it. Some people use devices that create "white noise" to reduce their perception of the sound.
Tinnitus can be the result of an abnormality in the ear. It is commonly reported by people who suffered a head injury. In many cases, victims will seek the help of an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist who will often refer them for audiological testing to confirm the diagnosis and the severity of the problem.
Sometimes the sound is in one ear more that the other. In some cases, tinnitus can be brought about the loud sound of a car accident crash or the loud sound of airbags deploying. If the tinnitus is from a head or neck injury, it most often affects one ear more than another. In many cases, the condition will improve over time. Many times, victims of car accident report the tinnitus to their health care providers only to be reassured that the problem is likely temporary and will soon subside. However, if it doesn't subside, the accident victim should seek a specialist's care.
Of course, since tinnitus is only perceived by the individual, proving it to an insurance company (or a judge/jury) can be quite difficult. That is why any symptoms should be documented as quickly as possible after a car accident. Make sure you tell all your health care providers about the problem as soon as possible. Reporting ringing in the ears six months after an auto accident will cause others to doubt your claim. You can imagine the insurance company will argue it's not related. Your credibility along with proper medical documentation is the key to your case.
If the tinnitus doesn't subside, some ENT doctors will recommend "tinnitus retraining therapy" (TRT). This is to help people who have tinnitus retrain themselves to cope with the sound. Retraining therapy has been around for years. It's a way of helping victims of tinnitus cope with the condition and hopefully find it less bothersome. Training generally involves educational counseling and sound therapy. Victims of tinnitus are taught about the physiological mechanisms of their condition and how new habits can help break the effects of that condition.
If you have tinnitus after an accident, make sure all your health care providers document your condition to the extent possible. If the condition doesn't subside after a few weeks, see professional help from an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist and/or an audiologist.
Hello, this is Robert Mansour. Today's video is about how to document your case if you have a significant injury from a car accident. The important thing to keep in mind is that you've got to go get medical care right away, or as soon as you can, if you have a significant injury from a car accident. Because if you don't do that and you wait too long, the insurance company for the responsible party might argue that you weren't all that hurt after all. In other words, if you were really hurt, you would have gone to seek medical care.
Now, a few things to keep in mind. If your injuries are severe, and if you had problems before the accident, but they were not as severe, or perhaps your problems were dormant for a period of time ... two or three years you were doing fine ... one of the most effective things you can do is go back to the same doctor who treated you before. Because that doctor, he or she will very familiar with your care. They will know how you were before the accident, and how you are after the accident.
In fact, when that doctor comes to testify in court, if it comes to that, that doctor's testimony will be that much more believable, because the jury will be sitting there and saying, "Well, wait a minute. This doctor knows this person from before the accident. They've been their doctor for years. They would be the best person to articulate how the person was before, and how the person was after."
You see, if you go to a doctor that your lawyer refers you to, which is fine in some cases. But if you do that, then a jury or an insurance company or other person might look at that suspiciously, and say, "Well, wait a minute. Why aren't you going to the same doctor who helped you before?"
I had a client who had a very bad knee injury from the case, and needed knee surgery. The best doctor that we could use was his knee surgeon from before. He'd actually had a prior knee surgery on the same knee, but the accident made his knee much worse, and required another knee surgery. So who better to go to than the previous knee surgeon? That was our best bet. In fact, that doctor's credibility is going to be much higher than any other doctor's credibility.
Also, if the defense or the insurance company hires their own expert, that expert is arguably a hired gun. They've been paid for their testimony. Versus your doctor, who is your doctor from before, who's known you for several years. Your doctor's going to carry much more credibility than their hired gun is going to carry. Now, that's not always the case. But it's something to strategically keep in mind when dealing with severe injuries from auto accidents.
My name is Robert Mansour, and I hope you found this video to be helpful. Thanks for watching.
Hello, my name is Robert Mansour and today I want to discuss the importance of witnesses when it comes to automobile accidents, especially if there is no police report, and especially if liability is disputed. Both parties are arguing that it was the other person's fault. If you have a he said, she said, or he said, he said, or whatever number you want to come up with, whatever variable, but the point is, when you have disputed liability, the testimony or position of an independent witness can make or break the case. So, if you have somebody who comes up to you after an accident and says, "Here, here's my business card, I saw the whole thing, I think the other party was at fault." If you don't have a police report, then you should really try to get the statement from that independent witness.
Now, your lawyer can do that by hiring an investigator to go interview that witness. The insurance company might also be willing to interview the witness especially if the witness is helpful to you and you're talking with your company. After all your company may be on your side oftentimes, and they may pay out to fix your car and then they want to go after the other party for reimbursement, in which case they're going to want that witnesses statement to tip the scales in their favor.
But here's the thing regarding witnesses, a lot of times in my experience, I have found that witnesses are very cooperative in the very beginning. They're willing to take a few phone calls here and there, talk to this adjuster from this company, this other adjuster, maybe an investigator, but after that, their patience wears thin. And in my experience, the longer it takes after the accident, the more times that witness is contacted, the less likely they are to cooperate. Sometimes we will even issue subpoenas to witnesses and they just will ignore them. They won't even show up. Why? Because they're just tired of talking to people about the accident.
Now, of course you can compel them to come to court, the judge can issue a warrant for them, but do you think they're going to be very happy about that? Do you think they're going to want to cooperate with your side of the case if you drag them into court unwillingly? So, the trick with witnesses is to get their testimony down on paper in an interview format that's very solid so that you can use it later on if you need to. And once again, if that witness has been interviewed by a lot of people, they will become less and less cooperative as time goes on and as the days and weeks and months transpire from the date of the accident. Anyway, I hope you found this tip helpful regarding capturing witness testimony early on in your personal injury case. Thank you very much for watching.
Robert Mansour: Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour. I'm an attorney here in Valencia, California and part of my practice is handling personal injury cases and representing people who have been injured in serious automobile accidents, and I have a special guest with me today, Tim Eckard is a physical therapist and also the president and CEO of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy here in Valencia at their brand new location, right Tim?
Tim Eckard: That's right, yeah.
Robert Mansour: Well today I wanted to spend a little bit of time trying to create something that would help perspective patients, perspective clients who've been involved in serious accidents, and talk a little bit about how physical therapy can help them get on the road to recovery, but before we do that tell me a little bit about this new location you have here in Valencia.
Tim Eckard: Okay. Yeah, this is a much larger space where we were before, and so we have much more room for privacy. We have for private treatment rooms now, so when we do evaluations or they're certain cases that we need more privacy we have that available. We also have a much larger gym and space to do a lot of the therapeutic type of exercising, working out that we do, and we have the ability to ... The way we set it up the therapists are always available and we can see our patients from where we document, and so it's just the way it's set up is much easier to keep track of all our patients and not let anyone get lost or kind of hidden anywhere, so-
Robert Mansour: Well the layout is fantastic. I mean I was here for the open house and it just seems like a very inviting space I think it's terrific.
Tim Eckard: That's what we try to do is create like a warm environment, friendly environment, a safe comfortable environment and it feels that way here and that's what we hear a lot of.
Robert Mansour: Well I would imagine some patients would be nervous the first time they come.
Tim Eckard: For sure.
Robert Mansour: Yeah, and you guys put them at ease.
Tim Eckard: Oh yeah. We like when they come in ... Well we don't want them to come in nervous but it's neat to see when they come in unsure and then they leave comfortable and smiling and feeling a little bit better about it.
Robert Mansour: Now if they come here, do ... I've always wondered about this, and maybe our audience is also wondering about this, can people just walk in off the street and say, "Hey, I want physical therapy," or do they have to be referred? How does it work?
Tim Eckard: Yeah, they can now. It's called direct access and our industry has been fighting for that for some time, so now you can come in off the street and be seen for up to 12 visits, however if we find that upon the evaluation that it's something that's beyond our scope of practice or we think that needs to be checked out medically we certainly would refer that out and then go back to the physician or go to a physician, but typically I would say 90% of our cases are referred by a physician.
Robert Mansour: Okay, what kind of physicians normally would refer to you?
Tim Eckard: Normally it's orthopedist, but any mechanical, like a neurosurgeon could refer to us, orthopedic surgeon obviously, but we're trying to inform family practice doctors, they can refer as well, rheumatologist. We do TMJ work so dentist or maxillofacial doctors can refer to us.
Robert Mansour: Extremities, hand doctors?
Tim Eckard: Hand doctors, yeah which are typically a specialization of orthopedics. So neurologists, I think I mentioned rheumatologist, sometimes oncologist even could refer, so it's quite a variety of physicians that can send us. If it's an MD they can refer to us, so that's the bulk of it.
Robert Mansour: So let's say somebody was involved in a serious auto accident and they have cervical complaints, lumbar complaints, maybe something even more serious than that, tell us what the patient can expect on their first visit, walk us through that first visit.
Tim Eckard: Mm-hmm (affirmative), so typically we set an appointment up over the phone to come see us and we set an hour aside for you, for the patient, and you come in and like every office you're going to have to fill out a little bit of paperwork, but we try to keep it to a minimum we know it's kind of a drag, but we get some pertinent information from you about your condition and so then what happens is you're brought back into one of the private treatment rooms where we do a one-on-one evaluation with the physical therapist, and we essentially we'll kind of sit you down and we'll just start having a little conversation about what's kind of bothering you, a little history of the situation.
Robert Mansour: How should people dress by the way for this initial visit?
Tim Eckard: Pretty comfortable-
Robert Mansour: I mean they dress in a suit?
Tim Eckard: No, very comfortable clothing, loose clothing is preferable but just however you want to is comfortable.
Robert Mansour: Okay, so there's no strict dress code?
Tim Eckard: No.
Robert Mansour: But it would be nice if it was comfortable in this clothing.
Tim Eckard: Right, but if someone's coming straight from an office or something and you're wearing what you ... it's fine.
Robert Mansour: Okay, so you sit them down and?
Tim Eckard: We sit down, we basically get the history of the situation and then from there we start doing an objective exam which means we will test like range of motion of how far you may be able to move your limb or your spine, your neck. We'll do some strength testing, we'll do palpation which basically means we kind of feel around to where areas might be sensitive or tender. We're trying to find out the kind of the location or where we should start treatment and maybe what some of the sources of pain are coming from. We may do some other special testing to test if there's neurological problems and that type of thing, and then we're always kind of educating as we're evaluating as well, so if we find something that might benefit you with a certain thing you mentioned about what you said or where your desk might be ergonomically or your posture, we can kind of go into some of that.
Tim Eckard: And so typically the first visit you get the evaluation and we try to give some kind of a treatment that day as well.
Robert Mansour: So it's not all evaluation in that one hour.
Tim Eckard: No, and we try to always give you a home program, something that you can start working on at home, and we've got a really cool new system now where we can email you these exercises, and in the email there are videos so you can see the motion of the exercises.
Robert Mansour: Are you in these videos Tim?
Tim Eckard: No, these are professional videos shot from the system that we have.
Robert Mansour: Nice.
Tim Eckard: And it's kind of cool, yeah, and it's got any exercise you'd want to kind of come up with and then you can specialize in it as well if you want to, but basically it's pretty organized system and it works and we have pictures that we can give you, they're very clear and written out well so that's a very nice tool we have now to use. And then we may treat you for pain or some of the discomfort you may be in for so we can at least help you kind of feel a little bit better at the time and at least get some kind of treatment. But all this would take place in about an hour's time and then we decide how frequently you should come and it may be prescribed specifically by the physician that's referring, two times a week, three times a week, that's a typical amount of therapy that one would have.
Tim Eckard: But again, we kind of base it on what we feel like is appropriate for you, and then if you're able to that day you go back to where you first checked in to set up your appointment for further follow-up visits, and then a plan is created as to what's going to occur or how we're going to go ahead and start treating your issue, and we carry that out and progress as we feel we can and continue to reassess.
Robert Mansour: Do you report to the physician who referred the patient?
Tim Eckard: Yes.
Robert Mansour: How often do you report to them? How do you keep them aware of what's going on?
Tim Eckard: Right, so from the first visit we'll do an evaluation and that evaluation gets typically efaxed or emailed to the referral position, so it's kind of quick. And we'd like to also, if we can, hand deliver that referral or that report to the physician as well, so they'll have a hard copy as well, we can do that if it's a local doctor, that kind of thing but they at least get a efax to them. And then from there we'll go ahead and do treatment. We don't send them a report every visit but we'll do a progress report that will occur ... If the end of the prescription is done we'll send a progress report indicating if we need to do further visits or we may do a discharge and they will get that as well.
Tim Eckard: So they're get a evaluation, a progress report and/or a discharge report.
Robert Mansour: Let's say I was involved in a car accident or a person is involved in a car accident, let's say it's relatively severe, is there any kind of average number of weeks that many doctors prescribe at the very beginning or does it always vary? Do you see an average?
Tim Eckard: You see an average. I would say it's probably an average of about six weeks.
Robert Mansour: Okay and at that point-
Tim Eckard: Four to six, but at that point it's a sufficient amount of visits and treatments to see a difference in your condition, to see an improvement.
Robert Mansour: What if there is no improvement, what happens then?
Tim Eckard: Then you refer back to the physician indicating there is no improvement and then they may need to redirect the plan of care, maybe they need to do more diagnostic testing, maybe they need to send to another type of specialist. So there may be another option or another path of treatment if conservative treatment isn't going to be beneficial, maybe they need to see a surgeon or whatever the case may be, it could vary a little bit. But if you see progress, typically you'll see progress, especially for soft tissue injuries which are most common with car accidents you'll see improvement but the goal is to kind of eventually get the patient to manage independently and learn how to do that.
Robert Mansour: Well it's very interesting you mention that because I've had some clients say, "Well wait a minute, isn't this just massage? Ain't I just getting a massage at the physical therapist?" I don't think a lot of people really grasp what it is that you guys are doing.
Tim Eckard: Right, so I often will explain to patients some of the conservative options and compare that to what we do as physical therapists. We do some of the massage and manual techniques for sure, and soft tissue work, but I would say the difference with physical therapy is that you're actually making a true correction or a true fix versus just managing the symptoms. So there are symptom managers and that's fine as you're kind of going through the process because it does take some time to make strength changes, mobility changes, and just time for healing. So just doing a massage, yeah, that probably would help make you feel better, relaxed or whatever for the moment but it's not going to necessarily fix the situation.
Robert Mansour: I see.
Tim Eckard: And so therapy is more about posture education, mechanic education and then making changes with mobility and strength where then you're truly better and it's just not a temporary situation.
Robert Mansour: So Tim what I understand then is that you're more about correcting the problem rather than just treating the symptom.
Tim Eckard: Correct, for sure.
Robert Mansour: All right, now what kind of physical therapy techniques might you guys use if it's ... So in addition to massage what else would you help the patient with?
Tim Eckard: So we do have mode what we call modalities which are just types of treatment to work on increasing circulation, decreasing pain and increasing the mobility of the tissue, loosening that it up. Again, those things are kind of temporary at the moment but can help you move and exercise better, so if people are in a great deal of pain then those are good options to help mechanically try to manage this versus chemically trying to manage it i.e. pills and medication, so we're try to get off of those the best that we can, for other medical purposes and side effects and that type of thing.
Tim Eckard: So we try to ship to a more of a mechanical management basis with those, but then the idea where we make these corrections and fixing the issue, it comes through a variety types of therapeutic activities, therapeutic exercises, neuromuscular exercises, posture exercises, so we guide and we direct a kind of an exercise regime. Most cases we set up like a therapeutic exercise workout for you, we start where we need to start and we progress as we need to progress and there's education and they're still doing your home program.
Robert Mansour: Right, you're doing your home program which is based on some of the things that you're doing when you see the patient?
Tim Eckard: Right.
Robert Mansour: Okay.
Tim Eckard: Things that you can do at home we try to let you do them at home and then we complement that or we build off of that with doing other things here in the office that you might not be able to do at home, and again we make the changes or we guide progression and intensity of exercises and that type of thing.
Robert Mansour: Okay, so you're one of the therapists here, correct?
Tim Eckard: Yes.
Robert Mansour: How many therapists do you have available to people when they come and visit?
Tim Eckard: So including myself there's two other therapists so we have three therapists.
Robert Mansour: Three altogether.
Tim Eckard: Right, then we have what we call PT aides who assist us, they're like extra hands for us and they may set the patient up with the heat and maybe electrical stimulation or they may help the patient with exercise because they're trained in knowing how to do the exercises. We determine what they are, we prescribed those and then we create what we call a flow sheet which basically is a guide for the other clinical people either the therapist or the aides who are helping us work with the patient in that, but again we're checking in as therapists with the patient and monitoring their progress and talking to them about their situation and then if we need to make any changes or we kind of stay where we are for the moment we do that but the aides will help us with that.
Robert Mansour: I have two questions for you, two more questions if you don't mind, and I'm going to put you on the spot so I hope you don't get upset.
Tim Eckard: All right.
Robert Mansour: What do you think is the biggest misconception about physical therapy? Do you think that there are any big misconceptions that people have about it?
Tim Eckard: I think you sort of hit on one word where you just kind of do massage and then that's kind of all you get.
Robert Mansour: They don't understand the extent of it.
Tim Eckard: Yeah, but I think maybe the other one is that they put you through so much pain.
Robert Mansour: Yeah, that's right, some people say, "I don't want to do physical therapy because it's going to be too painful," what do you say to them?
Tim Eckard: Well I think we're a little different in that because we show people or I myself will kind of give an example of how we all have some limitations of whatever that might be, and we need to stay within those so that we're not over irritating so that means we're not going to put you through things that are going to be painful or really reproduce your problem, however in order to improve and get better we have to kind of hit those edges a little bit and expand and get out of the comfort zone a little bit.
Robert Mansour: A little bit.
Tim Eckard: So a certain amount of discomfort may need to occur but we explain to them how that's going to happen, but at the same time we're always working within tolerances of people and those do vary from patient to patient, but we stay within the tolerable amounts of intensity but we try to progress that little by little, but we're not killing them and working way past their abilities or their tolerances so we were really watched for that and I think the misconception is that we're just working past those limits, too far.
Robert Mansour: So here's another question, another putting you on the spot question and then maybe we'll close with this.
Tim Eckard: Okay.
Robert Mansour: Kinetix Physical Therapy here in Valencia, and by the way if people want to learn more about that they can go to, let's see here the website is kinetixapt.com, correct?
Tim Eckard: Correct.
Robert Mansour: And the best phone number Tim, for people to reach this facility.
Tim Eckard: (661) 288-0300.
Robert Mansour: So here is the ultimate question. How does Kinetix Physical Therapy differ? Or what is unique about Kinetix Physical Therapy that perhaps other physical therapy places in Santa Clarita should strive for, or if you want to keep this a trade secret you're more than welcome to keep it.
Tim Eckard: No, that's fine. I think the main difference, because we do hear some things from patients who've been to other facilities, and I'm talking negative about anyone else-
Robert Mansour: It's just what you hear, yeah.
Tim Eckard: ... but I think the big difference is that we connect with the patients really well. We don't lose them, in a sense you're going to still see a physical therapist every time you're just not passed off to someone else and we lose track of you, so you're going to see a physical therapist every visit, and you're just going to sense there's a deep caringness here. We really do care about your situation and we are here to help-
Robert Mansour: Personal attention.
Tim Eckard: Very much, a lot of personal attention, and then we try to create an environment that is inviting, comfortable, relaxed, fun, and because I believe myself that it's people who are trying to get better, they're in pain, they're emotional, status may be a little difficult. If we can give them a good experience overall, just to have them enjoy being here in a sense, I think that is very medicinal and helpful for their condition as well, past the mechanical things that we're trying to do as far as getting them better with their injury, but making it be an enjoyable experience while they're here.
Robert Mansour: Speaking of enjoyable experiences Tim, I've had a very enjoyable visit with you, and I think I learned a lot even though I've been doing this for 25 years, and so once again if people want to learn more about Kinetix Physical Therapy, they can go to kinetixapt.com. And again, I'm Robert Mansour, my website is valencialawyer.com, and thanks again for visiting with me Tim.
Tim Eckard: Great, thank you.
Robert Mansour: Appreciate it.
Tim Eckard: Yeah, that's cool.
For more information about Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy, visit www.KinetixAPT.com
You’re driving along a busy street when suddenly you notice a car approaching rapidly from behind. It’s changing lanes erratically, barely missing other vehicles as it continues to approach you. Finally, you get hit from behind. You are stunned. You start to pull off to the side of the road when you notice the responsible vehicle is speeding away from the accident scene. They obviously have no intention of sticking around to exchange information with you. You suddenly get the eerie feeling that you are the victim of a hit and run accident. Whatever you do not chase the other vehicle. You might be tempted to do so in an effort to get the license plate number but that might be very dangerous.
The first thing you should do if you are involved in a hit and run accident is pull over to a safe place and write down as much information about the responsible party as you can recall. Ask any passengers you have to assist you. If you glanced at the license plate, try to remember as much as you can and write it down as soon as possible. Even having the make, model, and color of the responsible party's vehicle can be helpful. See if you can remember the direction it was headed right before the accident. Also see if you can notice any damage the car may have sustained.
Take pictures of your vehicle and all the damage from the accident. Try to take the pictures of the surrounding accident scene as well. Most cell phones will offer timestamp photos. Maybe you can even take a video. Ask any witnesses at the scene to describe what they saw and do your best to write down. Ask them for their names and contact information so you and your insurance company might be able to get in touch with them in the future.
Make sure you call the police. In some cases, the police may not come to the scene if no one is injured or if there is minor damage. However, many insurance companies require you notify the police and obtain a police report after a hit and run accident. If that is the case, make sure you file a police report at some point, either at the scene or later on at the police station. You want to make sure you follow the rules of your insurance contract.
Call your insurance company and report the accident soon after (maybe even the same day if you can). Make sure you are accurate and truthful. Provide any witness information to your adjuster along with the police information (report number, etc.). If you have uninsured motorist coverage, that could come in very handy if you were injured in an accident with a hit and run driver. In some cases, the police might be able to find the hit and run driver. There might be penalties imposed on the driver including serious penalties and fines.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting with a wonderful new client. A vehicle had crossed the center median and smashed into her car. She wanted to learn more about the personal injury process and what her options were.
I was explaining the personal injury process to her and stressing the importance of excellent documentation in her medical records. We spent a good part of our conversation talking about documenting the actual injuries from the accident.
FIRST YOU MUST MAKE AN EXHAUSTIVE AND DETAILED LIST OF YOUR INJURIES.
I asked her to start from the top of her head and move her way down her body. She mentioned the fact that she was having severe headaches, she had a nosebleed at the accident scene (along with nasal pain), pain in the right shoulder radiating into the right arm, pain in her upper back, pain in the right side of her mid back, and a bruise to her right knee. She had been to a doctor since the accident. I asked her if she had told any of these things to her doctor. She said she only told the doctor about the neck pain! I explained she would not be getting any points for anything that she failed to mention. You see, insurance adjusters are going to read your medical records with a magnifying glass, and they will only consider what’s in there. If you forget to mention something, that injury does not exist as far as the insurance company is concerned.
I encouraged her to make a list of all her injuries (no matter how minor) on a sheet of paper and the next time she went to the doctor, she was to make sure that those injuries were mentioned in her records. She wasn't lying or fabricating injuries. Clients need to recount ALL their injuries, not just the "main" ones. Wouldn't you want the insurance adjuster to know about ALL the injuries you had and not just some of them? Remember, the insurance adjuster's job is to minimize your case. If you fail to mention all injuries, then you are basically doing their job for them!
SECOND YOU MUST KEEP A LIST OF HOW THE ACCIDENT IS AFFECTING YOUR LIFE
Another exercise we did during our meeting was make a list of all the "effects" of the injury on her life.
To some extent, the value of your injury claim will be based on the following formula:
Severity of Injuries + Effects of Injuries = Value of Claim
She told me she had trouble bathing, trouble putting on her clothes, trouble concentrating at school, She literally was avoiding driving anywhere near the scene of the accident because it brought back so many bad memories. Of course, she had not mentioned any of these things to her doctor. Again, I stressed the importance of mentioning those things and making sure they are part of her medical record. Every time you get medical care after an accident, at every appointment, imagine the insurance adjuster standing in the room with you. I always tell clients to ask themselves the following, “What would I want the insurance adjuster to know about my accident?“ Whatever your answer is, you need to make sure that you articulate those things to your treating providers, physical therapists, etc.
Don't keep your injuries a secret! Don't keep the effects of the injuries a secret. This is not the time to be stoic. This is not the time to "tough it out." This is the time for documentation! Always ask yourself, "What would I want the insurance adjuster to know?" Then TELL YOUR DOCTOR about it so it actually ends up documented in your records.
When it comes to personal injury cases, your own medical history may come back to haunt you! What do I mean by that? Here are a few examples from some cases I recently handled:
I recently had a client who had a shoulder injury from a car accident. She eventually had surgery. Certainly, she had a significant injury since surgery was required. Everything in her medical records suggested injury from the car accident. For example, she complained at the accident scene of shoulder pain (as noted in the police report). At the hospital, she complained of pain to her shoulder. She endured painful cortisone injections to the shoulder which is something people generally won’t do unless they are having tremendous pain. Then she had the surgery and did weeks of rehabilitation. Again, people generally don’t do that unless they are truly injured.
Unfortunately, after reviewing this client's medical records over the last five years, we found that seven months prior to the accident, she had complained of shoulder pain in the exact same shoulder! In fact, the medical records indicated she had been having shoulder pain for six months prior! Of course, if you have surgery after an accident, the insurance company is going to want to see your medical records from the past. Generally, they want to see 5 to 10 years of medical records. Why do they want to see your prior records? Well, because many people try to blame pre-existing conditions on a car accident. In this particular case, my client had forgotten she had made that prior complaint. The truth is, the prior shoulder complaint may have been linked to a gastrointestinal problem that was causing "referred" pain. However, the notation was there, and you can bet the insurance company used it against her. They argued her shoulder pain probably pre-dated the accident and therefore, they should not be held responsible for it.
I had another client recently who was complaining of neck and back pain post accident. Eventually, after physical therapy failed, she had several cortisone shots to her neck and back. She assured me she had never had this type of pain before. Of course, I had to research her prior medical records because I wanted to make sure I was familiar with her past care so there would be no surprises.
Lo and behold, we found that two months prior to the accident, she had complained of the exact same problems to her neck and her back. In fact, the medical records indicated her prior neck and back pain were "chronic" and have been going on for well over three months (with radiating pain to her upper and lower extremities). That is not to say the client wasn't injured in the auto accident. I’m only raising these issues because we cannot ignore the historical medical records and how they might be used against us. A jury, a judge, or an insurance company is not going to like this kind of thing. The client was upset. However, I explained to her that her prior similar complaints found only 2 months prior to the accident could sink her entire case. She could then be on the hook for all our costs and all the defense costs.
Most people are already suspicious of personal injury accidents, and many people think accident victims are just trying to make a buck. The fewer uphill battles we have, the better. Pre-existing conditions that are denied (or sometimes forgotten, conveniently or otherwise) can destroy an entire car accident case.
Another client recently came to my office and explained he had smashed his knee into the dashboard as the result of a head on collision. Of course, this is a significant injury, and he told me he might need surgery. However, having worked for an insurance company myself, I asked him about his past medical care. He explained he did have prior complaints to the same knee. In fact, a few months before the accident, a doctor had recommended an MRI to the same knee. I explained that before I could take his case, and before he could make any significant decisions about whether or not he wanted to proceed with a car accident claim, the best thing we could do is obtain his prior medical records and study them carefully. After all, the insurance company is going to be pouring over them. It stands to reason that we should also be looking through them and learning what lurks in those records.
Here is the moral of the story: If you’re going to complain of any significant injury after an accident, and if you have similar issues in your medical past, they will certainly come back to haunt you. The insurance company will simply argue that your injuries pre-date the car accident and that you are simply trying to blame the car accident for all your previous problems.
If you have a previous problem, be candid about it and forthright. It could be that the car accident aggravated your previous problem or exacerbated an otherwise dormant injury. Then it becomes an issue of what kind of aggravation it was and whether or not you have a residual problem. Of course, sometimes it is difficult to ascertain whether or not you would have had the same problem even without a car accident (insurance companies always make that argument).
Ignoring your medical history or assuming no one is going to look at it, is one of the biggest mistakes I see clients make. If you have a significant medical history, it would be a great idea for you to obtain your own medical records so that you can review them before the insurance company does. That will help you outline your strategy and handling your personal injury case. Also, don't hide your medical history from your attorney. That doesn't do anyone any good! If you are not willing to confront your medical past, then perhaps you shouldn't be making a personal injury claim.
Hello. This is Robert Mansour. Today I wanted to make a brief video about uninsured motorist claims. If you get into an automobile accident and the other party either doesn't have insurance or the other party doesn't have enough insurance, you may have something under your own policy called uninsured motorist, or sometimes it's called under-insured motorist, and you'll see it. It's called UM on your policy. Or, you could just call your company and say, "Hey, do I have uninsured motorist?"
Now, as you can imagine that's very handy if the other party doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough, but here's the deal: For uninsured motorists who apply, it's not just enough for you to have it, it actually has to apply. So what are some things that maybe would prevent uninsured motorists from applying? Well, you have to be able to prove that the other party was uninsured.
Let's say somebody did a hit-and-run with your car. They hit your vehicle and then they took off. You have no idea who they are, what the vehicle is all about, what the VIN number is, the license plate, you don't know the name of the person who hit you, you have no idea, the police can't track them down. Well, you may not be able to use your uninsured motorist. You might think that you can, but your policy might say that if your insurance company can't rule it out and can't determine for sure whether that party has insurance or not, then uninsured motorist doesn't apply, so to some extent, you've got to know who hit you.
Now, contrast that with somebody who hit you and the police got all the information and you have that person's information and when you check on it you find that they don't have any insurance. That's different from a hit and run where you cannot conclusively even prove who that person is.
Another thing that might prevent you from being able to use your uninsured motorist benefits is if the vehicle that caused the accident never touches your vehicle, never came into contact with your vehicle. Let's say you're driving along and somebody turns left in front of you, but you don't hit them. You turn to try to avoid them and you hit a pole or something. Then you say, "Well uninsured motorist. That person caused the accident and they didn't have insurance." Well, your insurance company might say, "Hold on a second. Because there was no contact between your car and the uninsured vehicle, we don't cover that."
Make sure that you understand not only that you have uninsured motorist, but realize that there might be some hoops that you need to jump through before that uninsured motorist benefit actually applies to your case. I hope you found this video to be helpful. My name is Robert Mansour and thanks for watching.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.