CAR ACCIDENTS FOR DUMMIES

… Does the book exist?

Car accidents are no joke. It’s hard to know what will happen, or plan for something you don’t know will happen. My luck, I was on my way to get my hair done at the salon for my brothers wedding. I took a specific route so I would pass the Dunkin’ Donuts and be able to get a cup of coffee. Coffee addictions are no joke either.

There were two cars turning in front of me and the 7-Eleven and I heard a loud noise behind me. I quickly realized that I was about to be part of a car accident. Two guys driving up the street weren’t paying attention and hit a car, who hit a car, who hit me.

There were people with injuries, so I helped as much as I could, and then waited to see what happens next without really paying attention to the discomfort in my back. Honestly, I was really concerned about missing my hair appointment, horrendous, I know!

After all of the paperwork was done, and ambulances left, I went on my way to get my hair and nails done. As the day went on it got harder and harder to walk. I started to have pain all through my back and my leg. I thought, “surely, this can’t be happening right now.” Injuries do not wait for it to be convenient, that is for sure. I ended up with with and having to get pain medicine to get through the flight to California… and the wedding.

Now, I had contacted my insurance company after the accident and I assumed that all of my bills as a result of the accident would be taken care of. As the pain got worse and the tests required started multiplying, I checked on my insurance and my rights.

Limited tort is a very important designation on your insurance policy. It is because I have limited tort on my insurance, I cannot bring a claim against the insurance company for not only pain and suffering but the expenses that I have incurred since the accident. Because of injury to my ankle, I was not allowed to drive for two weeks and I continue to have pain. I have been in physical therapy for two months. I lose two hours of my day every other day to do so. In addition, I have had to pay people to take care of simple things that I can no longer do.

After dealing with the pain and the restriction that it caused for sometime, it became very frustrating. I met with Lawyers, which was an interesting experience, but there was not much they could do because I had limited tort. In addition, my insurance policy only covered up to $5000 in medical bills. If you know anything about the medical field, you know that will not get me anywhere. I have been in chiropractic care, had x-rays on my neck and back, seen a general practitioner, had x-rays on my ankle, been to orthopedic specialists multiple times and had two MRIs. Those costs alone, before physical therapy, far exceed $5000. So what happens to those costs?

Well, in my case they turned over to my personal insurance company, who denied them. The amount of hassle and stress that this accident has caused has been incredible. I now know that life will not be the same, as I am restricted by my injuries. I have back pain that prevents me from doing things that I have always done. I cannot wear heels, and I love heels, and I can’t even blow dry my hair. The mental and emotional ramifications of the injuries and the restrictions are serious.

There is, pretty much, nothing I can do about it, because I chose limited tort. Apparently, limited tort is cheaper in your monthly payment. Insurance companies want you to have limited tort, I’m sure, so they do not get sued. Limited tort exists to eliminate your ability to make a claim against the insurance company, for expenses and/or pain and suffering.

I never pay attention when I sign something, so an insurance policy is an insurance policy. I never would have thought twice about limited tort, because I’m not the lawsuit type. I never really thought about what would happen in a car accident where I had injuries. Now, I know. I’ve change my insurance policy to full tort, and a much higher financial consideration for health and injury. Unfortunately, it took me living through it, to really know or understand it. Things that we take for granted every day, like walking, driving, wearing the shoes you want, are no longer luxuries for me. I walk into a physical therapy office in the morning in professional work clothes on…and sneakers! All ready to start my day in a way I never knew I would have to.

I don’t like it, no one would, however I know I have to do what is required to get better. I’ve always been the type to revolt against what a doctor would say or instruct me to do. This is different. I want to be able to walk.

If you are ever in a car accident, my advice to you:

Go to the doctor or hospital immediately. Even if you do not feel like you are seriously injured at the time, injuries take on new forms as time goes by. It is better to get checked out and be safe, and have it documented that you have injuries and you’ve been seen by a doctor. The insurance companies will not take your word for it if it comes down to it. Unfortunately, you have to protect yourself against greed and big corporate thinking.

Make sure you get all drivers information, the police report and the names and contact information of the police officers on site. Of course, be sure that the police are present, no matter how severe the accident.

Call your insurance company right now, and get full tort insurance.

Do not talk on the phone to the insurance companies, especially when they are recording the phone call. You want to be careful about what you say, because anything you say can and will be used against you. Again it is unfortunate, but it is reality.

Don’t assume because your car does not have much damage, that you are not injured. What I learned in this process is that in some cases the vehicle is not damaged at all but your body actually takes a more significant impact. It is better to be safe than sorry in this case.

If you need a lawyer, find a good one. Do not sign paperwork with the first person you meet, without regard for the terms and conditions. Personal injury can be an opportunity for corruption, so you want to be sure you trust your lawyer.

Keep a file. No matter who is involved, be sure to keep copies of all of your paperwork and documentation. You never know what will come up or happen. Things will be questioned along the way and you have to be sure you know what is documented so that you can be sure you are properly represented.

For me, I’m going to continue with my physical therapy, I am going to be determined to improve every day, week and month. I’m going to do everything the doctors tell me to ensure that bulging disc and vertebrae and tendons don’t bother me for the long-term. As much as I would love to have a little talk with the driver who caused this accident, I forgive him. He has changed my life. But it could’ve been much worse.

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