In this twelve-part blog series, personal injury lawyers Bree Hankins and Adrienne Staley discuss important steps to follow after a motor vehicle accident and what you need to know about making a personal injury claim. Part 2 focuses getting treatment after you have been in an accident.
Part Two: Getting Treatment
The next step after you have been in an accident is to get appropriate treatment for your injuries.
Injuries not requiring attendance at the hospital
If you are in an accident where you are injured, but your injuries do not require immediate treatment from emergency services and an ambulance, it is important to go to see your doctor as soon as possible, preferably the same day as the accident. If you cannot get in to see your regular family physician or if you do not have a regular family physician then you should attend a walk-in clinic to get assessed.
Your doctor may provide a number of recommendations including attending at the hospital to have x-rays taken, physiotherapy, and pain medication.
Significant injuries requiring attendance at the hospital
If you are injured in an accident and your injuries are more serious you may require assistance from emergency services and you may be transferred from the accident scene to the hospital by ambulance. Depending on the seriousness of your injuries you may be assessed at the hospital and released the same day, or you may require an extended stay in hospital.
While in hospital, if possible, it is important to advise your treatment providers of all the areas of your body you feel to be injured or in pain. Upon discharge from the hospital it is important to follow your discharge instructions and to attend your family physician or walk in clinic if you do not have a family physician for follow up.
General recommendations for treatment
It is important that you advise your doctor and other treating professionals of all your symptoms both physical and mental as they arise following the accident. This includes pain in different parts of your body, headaches, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
It is also important that you follow the recommendations of your treatment providers, and complete the recommended treatment. Full and frank communication with your treatment providers is necessary to ensure that you are receiving the most appropriate treatment for your injuries. For example, if a treatment has been recommended to you and you tried it and it did not work or help, communicate with your treatment provider and advise them that you did not receive relief from this treatment, so that you can find the appropriate treatment that will help you.
Types of treatment
There are many different types of treatment, and the type of treatment that is recommended to you will vary depending on your injuries. However it is important to know what types of treatments are available. For example for a whiplash injury, physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractor treatment are some of the types of treatment that may be recommended to you. These are passive treatments where the treatment provider works on the injured areas to help heal the injury. In addition to passive treatments there are also active treatments that may include kinesiology, personal training and home exercises, these types of treatments help to strengthen the injured area of your body. Your treatment providers may recommend either passive treatments, active treatments or a combination of both.
One of the types of injuries that often goes untreated is mental health issues arising from an accident. It is not uncommon for people to suffer mental or emotional injuries when they are involved in an accident. These injuries can range from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, to depression and anxiety, including driving anxiety. These injuries can have a significant effect on people’s lives especially if left untreated. Similar to physical injuries emotional or mental injuries often require treatment including counselling, therapy and pharmaceutical treatment if necessary.
Mitigation: what you have to do to get better
If you have suffered an injury as a result of an accident you have under law a duty to mitigate your damages. What this means is that you have to take all reasonable steps to get better. You cannot get injured, not undertake any treatment or do anything to recover and expect to be fully compensated for those injuries. Instead you have to take all reasonable steps to recover from your injuries as best as you can. This includes following recommended treatment, participating in your treatment and attempting to return to your normal activities as best as you can and as recommended by your treatment providers.
Your duty to mitigate does not mean that you have to try every possible form of treatment and spend all of your money on different types of treatments. Your duty is to do what is reasonable, follow your treatment provider’s advice and make reasonable efforts to participate in your recovery and get back to your prior activities to the best of your ability.
We understand that many forms of treatment can be costly and these costs can add up. Fortunately many of these cost are either covered by benefits provided by ICBC or can be recovered through your injury claim.