So you crashed your car…Now what??
You drive so carefully, never speed through school zones, never change lanes in an intersection, never tailgate and always pay attention in parking lots… and yet here you are… a dump truck ran over your VW beetle or some new driver decided to not yield to oncoming traffic and you’ve totalled your car and your neck is screaming in pain!
We don’t deal with your car…take that to your auto body shop…but we deal with any of the injuries that you may get following a motor vehicle collision. Regardless of if you are at fault in the accident, your injuries need to be cared for. The province and your insurance company have set out ways to get you the care, without hiking your premiums through the roof for the foreseeable future. But there are some procedures that you need to follow in order to make sure your care and your claim go smoothly.
Step 1: Don’t Panic!!!… We do this all the time!!!
There are over 142,000 traffic collisions in Alberta every year. That amounts to approximately 400 auto collisions every day. Assuming that a great deal of these collisions end with some sort of injury (or multiple injuries, if there are passengers involved) this leaves a lot of people out there that require at least a small amount of care to properly heal their injuries.
Step 2: Don’t Wait!!!… The earlier you get in for an evaluation the earlier we can start you on your path to recovery.
While the insurance protocols like you to get an evaluation within 10 business days of your accident, you really can’t start care too early after the accident. If you have symptoms, get care—quickly.
There are a couple of pieces of paperwork that need to be completed in order to get the claims process started. There is one that is fully filled out by you to report the circumstances surrounding the accident (Form AB-1) as well as your current symptoms and injuries and then there is one that is filled out by your healthcare practitioner (Form AB-2) detailing their opinion of how you will need to be treated. You can get these forms directly from the insurance company (sometimes they pre-fill them out) or we have copies at the office for you to complete. We submit these forms to your insurance company and then we get started with care right away, for simple injuries, there is no need for the insurance company to pre-authorize the treatment. We just start.
Step 3: Don’t Worry!!!… There are a lot of established protocols to deal with things.
Simple injuries following a motor vehicle accident usually fall into certain categories and treatment protocols are largely dictated by what your diagnosis is. Most injuries are called Whiplash Associated Disorders (WADs) and fall into either a Category 1 (WADI) or a Category 2 (WADII) The most common in a chiropractic or physiotherapy realm of treatment is a Category 2. There are sometimes extremity sprain and strain injuries like wrists and shoulders from airbags being deployed, or ankle, foot or knee injuries from slamming on the brakes or hitting the dash. These are usually handled simply by conservative care, of which treatment is usually fairly straightforward.
There are cases where your motor vehicle collision has caused fractures, dislocations, herniated discs or nerve damage. These are not as common as lower-severity injuries and if you do present to your practitioner with an injury that is too severe to be treated with chiropractic, physiotherapy or massage (at least initially) you’ll be referred appropriately to the hospital or specialist that you need to see.
Step 4: Don’t Stop!!….Until you are better…(mostly)
We have all heard of car accidents causing life-long symptoms. But if you follow steps one through three your chances of getting to this state are significantly less. It is our job to get you back to your operational level that you were at before your accident and make it so that your injury’s impact on your daily life is minimal. This can sometimes take time and, thankfully, in Alberta, the system is set up so that most people have fairly good access to the services they need. Once we are done proceeding through the protocols (see Step 5 for details) usually you are doing pretty good, although you are allowed to attend and submit for treatment directly related to the accident for up to 2 years following most injuries.
Step 5: Do the Math….or we’ll do it for you!
If you’ve been diagnosed with a WAD1 injury you are entitled to 10 treatments directly billed to the auto insurance company. Our office uses a team-based-patient-first approach to care and thankfully the procedures in Alberta allow a combination of Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Massage Therapy and Acupuncture to make up these treatments. So you can get a care plan that is developed specifically for your injury. If you have sustained a WAD2 you can use up to 21 treatments for the first section of your care. Sometimes you will need all of these treatments, but sometimes you don’t.
It is our job to get you back to the way you were prior to the accident, if these initial treatments are not sufficient, we can ask your insurance for more. The next section of care is called Section B and is typically described in terms of dollar amounts. For example, chiropractic care is authorized for an additional $1000 in Alberta. Massage is $350 and Acupuncture is $350 but with Physiotherapy, the dollar amount is substantially more. The catch: This dollar amount is secondary to any personal benefits (Blue Cross, Great West Life, Work Benefits) that you might have. This means you have to bill your personal benefits first, and once these are used up, then we can send the additional balance to the auto insurance company.
The math seems daunting at times…but remember Step 1: Don’t Panic….We do this all the time!
Step 6 (unlikely): Don’t Settle….or do…it’s up to you.
Although it’s uncommon, there are times when things don’t progress as planned. When this happens and you end up requiring more care than is typically authorized for, or you simply don’t get back to your normal level of operation. At this point, we usually recommend getting a personal injury lawyer involved. This is typically not the first thing we recommend doing, but in cases where you need a bit more advice getting a good opinion is important. You can also set up agreements through lawyers that allow our clinic to carry a balance for unpaid care until your settlement comes through. Or you can have us write reports and opinions to detail your injuries. While we never like things to come to this (because it usually means you are not “better”) there are ways for us to take care of you throughout the entire process and be with you every step of the way.
So whether you decided to fall asleep at the wheel driving your dad’s car home from a party, or someone just didn’t see you waiting for the traffic to clear in a right-hand turning lane. There is always a way for us to help you heal.
Follow the Steps.
You’ll be fine.
Dr. Scott Rude