Bill Ferguson
Registered Osteopath, Cranial Osteopath, Acupuncture and Sports Injuries
Tenterden Osteopathic Clinic
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Special Topics

What to do after a Car Accident
After the Car Crash

As the morning and evening sun becomes lower and the roads are often damp and slippery, driving becomes more hazardous. This is the time of year that I see most cases of whiplash injury.

If you have the misfortune to be a victim of this sort of injury it is easy to be overwhelmed and react with stunned incompetence. As well as receiving a painful injury your car is damaged, there might be legal and insurance complications to sort out and then there are the effects on your livelihood if you are unable to work.

Below is my advice, as an Osteopath, on what to do next and because there are so many things to consider I have also invited some of my professional colleagues from the Wealden Business Group, Tenterden, Kent, to give you their advice too. I am very grateful to the expert professionals who have contributed to this article, namely:

  • Terry Thorpe on dealing with insurers, DG East Partnership

  • Natalie Kedge, an employment solicitor, Baileyfields Solicitors

  • Richard Byrt, a litigation specialist, Byrt & Co


Bill Ferguson
My advice as an Osteopath
What to do after a motor vehicle accident

Imagine that you are sitting in your vehicle, not moving, waiting to turn right, suddenly "bang" someone drives into you from behind at 45mph. Life suddenly gets very complicated.

Hopefully you and your passengers (if any) survive the impact. What happens next?

  • If you are seriously injured. You will probably be taken to hospital and I might see you in a week or two when you have been discharged.

  • Your vehicle is a mess but you feel OK. Maybe someone came and collected you and took you home or to work, and now you are not feeling too well. My advice is to think ahead - get some evidence in case there are insurance issues. Go to your GP, explain what happened, if your neck hurts ask for a neckbrace, make sure the information is recorded. Tell your insurers. Write down everything you remember - was the weather wet or dry, how was the visibility, was the traffic heavy or light, draw a diagram of the road and what happened, write down the time of day, any witnesses - you might be asked for this information in 6 months time.

  • The accident was yesterday, you were not hurt but this morning you woke up with a painful neck, sore back, bruises etc Same advice as above - record everything you remember and gather evidence to support what happened.

As soon as you are able, call your Osteopath to make an appointment. I normally recommend no treatment, only rest, for two or three days depending on the severity of the injury. If you had a whiplash injury to your neck, where your head was thrown violently forwards and backwards there is probably ligament damage, this means you are vulnerable to sudden head and neck movements for up to three days so it is best to rest with some support (neck brace or soft support) until the ligament tension is restored. Then is the best time to start osteopathic treatment.

Treatment is gentle and aimed at restoring comfortable, pain-free range of movement as the neck heals. It is not unusual for the low back to need some treatment as well and sometimes there is injury to the shoulder and chest from the seat belt.


Terry Thorpe
DG East Partnership
My advice on dealing with Insurers

Once you have obtained the details of the other party and any independent witnesses ensure that you and any passengers are checked over by your doctor even if your have no visible injuries and feel fine. Whiplash can take days to develop and if not reported to a GP will make any later personal injury claims more difficult to prove.

Draw a clear plan of the scene giving road conditions along with vehicle positions prior and after the collision. If possible take photos before the vehicles are moved, with a view of all vehicles in the after impact position, along with damage images.

If possible contact your normal repairer to arrange recovery if required, this will keep you in control rather than letting the insurance machine take over. It is your vehicle and you decide where and when it will be repaired.

We would advise all our customers to call our office at this stage if possible, all the arrangements will be made for recovery if required, estimates, replacement vehicle, and claims handling procedures.


Natalie Kedge
Baileyfields Solicitors
My advice as an employment solicitor

The information given does not constitute legal advice, please obtain legal advice based on your specific circumstances

This accident may necessitate a prolonged period of absence from work, so you will need to know what your rights are as an employee and what obligations your employer has towards you.

There could be a number of consequences following on from this accident:

  • You are absent from work and you then return after a brief period having made a full recovery

    From the fourth day of sickness absence, you are entitled to receive statutory sick pay. You will need to supply your employer with a certificate from your GP if you are absent for more than 7 days. You should also check your contract of employment to see if you have the benefit of contractual sick pay, ie payment of your normal salary or a proportion of your salary for a fixed period of time.

  • You return to work after a prolonged period of absence but you have a disability as a result of the accident

    Your employer is likely to want confirmation from your GP or from an Occupational Health advisor that you are fit to return to work and capable of performing your duties safely. If you have a disability (which is defined as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities) then you will be protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Your employer is likely to require a medical report in order to make this assessment and then identify the extent of any reasonable adjustments which you need to be able to carry out your job safely.

    If your employer does not carry out any reasonable adjustments which are necessary, then you should seek advice as to whether you could have a claim for disability discrimination.

  • You are unable to return to work

    If it is unlikely that you will be able to return to work you may have the benefit of a permanent health insurance or ill-health pension provision to cover your loss of earnings. There are usually strict criteria to qualify and there would likely be a deferment period for payment (usually 28 weeks).

    If you do not have the benefit of any such policy and you are dismissed, you should seek advice as to whether you could have a claim for example, for unfair dismissal and/or disability discrimination.


Richard Byrt
Byrt and Co
My advice as a Litigation Lawyer

Contemporaneous evidence is the key to any successful claim. I would suggest you keep a pad and pen in your car in case of any road accident. Record everything about the accident where physically possible including:

  • If you are injured make sure medical assistance is called for and the Police are notified and attend the scene of the accident. Note the names of the individuals who attend upon you

  • The date, time and place of the accident and any nearby landmarks

  • The weather conditions (sunny, cloudy, raining, frosty, snowing)

  • Any comments made by the driver accepting liability for the accident

  • The name, address, telephone number and email address of the driver of the car that hit you

  • The name, address and policy number of the driver's insurance company

  • The registration number, make and colour of the car that hit you

  • The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses

  • Draw a diagram of the accident if possible

  • If you have a camera phone take as many pictures from all angles of the accident scene and where possible the driver of the other car

  • The name of the doctor and nurses who attend to your injuries. Those injuries must be reported to your medical team or GP as soon as possible

  • Report the accident to your own insurers as soon as possible

  • Verify whether the pursuit of your claim will be dealt with by your insurers upon your behalf under the terms of the policy

  • Instruct solicitors, if necessary, to pursue any personal injury claim as soon as possible. You have 3 years within which to commence a claim.

   
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Osteopath Tenterden

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Bill Ferguson
Tenterden Osteopathic Clinic
2 St Benets Court
Tenterden, Kent
Tel: 01580 762754

Email: mail@billferguson.co.uk

 

© Created by Sue Ferguson
Enquiries to : mail@sueferguson.co.uk
Last Updated: 12 January, 2012