LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Robert John DiCello | Jul 1, 2011

Medical Care After An Auto Accident

You are probably paying what you consider to be very high rates for automobile insurance. In fact, in Ohio there are harsh penalties for not carrying car insurance. When you are involved in an automobile accident you owe it to yourself to fully avail of all the protection that your policy offers. Since your health is very precious to you, after any kind of traumatic injury, you should be thoroughly checked out by appropriate medical professionals.

Serious Injury

Serious injuries such as being knocked unconscious, broken bones, severe gashes and lacerations should be taken care of immediately, above all other considerations. Demand that an ambulance rush you to the nearest emergency room. Once your condition has stabilized, you can then take care of other business: selecting the best doctors to treat you, getting your car fixed, handling the various details of the accident, etc.

The many ramifications that a serious injury will have on your life will especially necessitate the advice, counsel and direction of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Complex issues like permanent disability, prolonged loss of earning capacity, future medical complications, structured settlements, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. are best negotiated by an expert.

Attorney Robert J. DiCello has negotiated hundreds of claims against insurance companies for his clients over the past thirty five years. His experience with complex cases can be put to work for you.

Whiplash

Most auto accidents do not involve serious, permanent injuries. They do, however, create trauma and stress and pain to millions of people every year. The most common injuries sustained in the majority of accidents are those to the head, neck and back. The impact of being rear-ended by another car – even at relatively low velocities – is sufficient to strain and injure these parts of the body which are connected to a very delicate spinal cord.

In an 8-mile-per-hour rear-end collision, a 2G force of acceleration of the vehicle may result in a 5G force of acceleration to the back of the skull and head. The amount of damage to the automobile may bear little relationship to the forces applied to the cervical spine (neck) and to the injury sustained by the cervical spine. Some of the safety features found in automobiles may influence the extent of the injury. The position of the headrest, the strength of the seat back, the use of a seatbelt and shoulder strap and the presence of an air bag, all may play a role. The most common safety feature, seatbelts, designed to minimize injury to the chest wall and head, may intensify the potential for cervical trauma by restricting motion of the lower body.

Every year many thousands of victims, who are involved in automobile accidents, suffer from a painful and debilitating condition commonly referred to as whiplash. These injuries (which have been the butt of many a joke), are very real – and have known to cause years of suffering when improperly diagnosed, mistreated or ignored. When your automobile is struck from behind, the head is suddenly and forcefully flung backwards beyond its normal extension, then just as abruptly is recoils forward. Damage occurs to soft tissues in the neck – mid back, and lower back; which could affect ligaments, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, vertebrae and discs. In most cases the only evidence of the injury is the victim’s complaint; for such soft tissue damage usually does not show on x-rays. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, stiffness, numbness, impaired vision; as well as pains in the neck, arms and lower back may show up immediately, or even days or weeks later.

That is why it is so important: 1) not to give a premature opinion or statement about your condition at the time of the accident, 2) to be checked out by doctors who specialize in soft tissue injuries, and 3) to hold off settling with any insurance company until all symptoms have surfaced, all injuries have been treated, and all damages have been repaired.

Whiplash victims who suffered painful symptoms beyond three months following the injury may have a less-than-favorable long term recovery. Where symptoms persist for more than a year following the injury, the long term prognosis is frequently not good.

Pre-existing Conditions

Many people who are injured in automobile accidents were suffering from some other condition before the accident. The most common pre-existing condition, especially for anyone over the age of forty, is degenerative disc disease. While this is a natural part of the aging process, it often causes greater pain and discomfort when aggravated by whiplash-type injuries. Other pre-existing conditions include unstable spine structures, prior spinal (neck and back) surgeries, a disease which often inhibits or slows down the healing process (Crohn’s disease) and a variety of other pre-existing health disorders, including osteoporosis (soft bones) and spondylolisthesis (vertebrae deformity in lower back).

A person suffering from a pre-existing condition is at much higher risk of serious injury than a perfectly healthy person. The insurance adjuster assigned to handle your claim is not likely to take an aggravation of a pre-existing condition as the serious injury that it is in reality. The insurance company will not take responsibility for the condition and will tend to evaluate the injury independent of it. If you have a soft tissue case (no broken bones), the reserve (money estimate) that is put on the file by the insurance company will likely be low and make without taking into account the pre-existing condition and the serious, sometimes long-term, ramifications.

Ohio law provides a remedy for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition or acceleration of a pre-existing injury or disease. The law recognizes that the wrongdoer takes the victim as he finds him and the wrongdoer (and his insurance company) is liable for all the injuries and damages caused by the wrongdoer’s negligence.

Attorney Robert J. Dicello has extensive experience in working with doctors and medical providers in the identification and documentation of aggravation and acceleration injuries. If you have any concerns or questions concerning injuries or medical treatment following an automobile accident, please call The DiCello Law Firm at (440) 953-8888 for a free initial consultation.

Additional resources provided by the author

For more information about medical care after an auto accident visit the DiCello Law Firm hompage: http://www.dicellolaw.com.

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