I recently ran into a friend and the subject of auto accidents came up along with the fact that I treat them. My friend didn’t know that when she had been in an accident in the past that she was entitled to receive massage through her auto insurance. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to educate my clients a little about what they can do in case of a motor vehicle accident.
Anyone who has driven in Oregon knows that when the rains start, the roads become a lot more dangerous. If you are in an accident in Oregon you are required by law to file an accident report with the DMV within 72 hours if your car’s vehicle damage is over $1,500, if damage to any of the cars involved is greater than $1,500 and any involved vehicle is towed from the scene, or when property damages are over $1,500. You can find more information about your rights and responsibilities at the Oregon DMV’s website http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/Pages/driverid/accidentreport.aspx
You are also required to file an accident report if you or anybody else involved is injured. Now you might see this and think “no biggie, as long as I’m not injured and it’s a minor fender bender then I don’t have to report it, right?” While that may be true, it can get tricky because you don’t always know if you are injured.
Case in point; someone pulled out of a parallel spot on MLK Boulevard and side swiped my front right fender a couple of years ago. At the time, I felt like nothing was wrong and drove home. A couple hours later the adrenaline wore off and I was hurting. Pains radiated down my chest and into my arms and my neck and low back were also very sore. So I went to the doctor to get checked out. I had whiplash. Fortunately I had learned my lesson from a previous accident and I got the other drivers insurance information and I took pictures. I ended up needing several treatments of both massage and chiropractic over the course of a few months until I was fully recovered.
If you are in a car accident, you should always seek medical treatment as soon as possible. And you should never just let the other driver go because you feel sorry for them or because you think that nothing is wrong with your car. At least get their information. If you turn out to be fine and your car doesn’t need any repairs (although you should have it at least checked for alignment issues but that’s a different topic), then great; no harm no foul. But if you do end up with an injury and the other driver was at fault, you could be paying for it for many years to come. Not just in the form of auto repair bills but in pain and suffering. Have you ever met someone who suffered from an untreated physical accident from years ago? The longer you go without treatment, the more likely permanent damage is possible.
Also, if you suspect that the other driver is uninsured, you are actually breaking the law if you do not report your suspicions to the DMV. So this brings up another point. In addition to liability coverage, you should carry Personal Injury Protection (or PIP) coverage. That way, if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you will still be covered. Once you are involved in an accident, whether your fault or not, your PIP coverage kicks in and all billing will go through your insurance plan. Then when the treatments are finished and all repairs are made, your insurance company will retrieve payment from the other person’s insurance company or from the person if not insured. And you don’t have to worry about it.
With all of that said, please know that you are entitled to whatever care you need to get back on your feet again. You are allowed to ask your doctor for a prescription for massage therapy (chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, etc.) and you are allowed to see whatever qualified healthcare provider you want with said prescription. Auto insurance is different than your private insurance where you have to see someone in network. You can pick your practitioner, and if you aren’t happy with them, you can get another one to treat you.
God forbid you find yourself in a traffic accident but chances are many of us will end up in one at one time or another. So please know that if you happen to be in this situation I am happy to treat you and one of my specialties is treating whiplash. If this happens, I will need your insurance information, including your agent who is handling the claim, the claim number, your full name and the date of the incident. I can then call your agent to verify your information and to make sure massage is covered (It almost always is) and then we can start treatment right away. If you have any questions please contact me and I can walk you through the process. Remember that you have rights and that you don’t have to needlessly suffer pain.