What You Need to Know if You Have Been in a Car Accident

This page is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions.

What are my rights and what am I entitled to?
What if my car only sustained only minor damage?
I was only a little sore, do I still need care?
My doctor said it is just a strain and I will be okay. What does research show?
What do I need to know if I think I’m injured?
Is going to the hospital and getting a prescription all I need?
Suppose the person that hit me is uninsured. Can I still receive care?
If I don’t have medical coverage on my policy, can I still receive care?
When does someone need an attorney?
When should I settle with the insurance company?
How do I choose the right clinic? Is there a difference?

The quality of your future life may depend on the decision you make today.

If you have been in an auto accident recently, there are some important decisions to make, and if you are wise, you will consider these decisions seriously. Unless your injuries were obviously serious, you, like most people, are mostly concerned with you vehicle. For example:

“Who is going to pay to have my car fixed?”
“What will I drive in the meantime?”
“Will my insurance rates go up?”
“My truck is considered to be totaled. What do I do now?”


To top it all off, you may have noticed since the accident you may not be feeling your normal self. You might be experiencing obvious pains and symptoms like muscle stiffness, neck pain, headaches, difficulty sleeping, irritability, memory loss, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and a host of other symptoms.

Worse than that, you may be feeling nothing at all!

Either way, it is possible your car could be the least of your concerns if you have undetected and untreated injuries, or injuries that are treated incorrectly.

Most medical doctors are not trained in the proper treatment of musculoskeletal injuries such as injuries suffered in a car crash.

Because most medical doctors are not trained in the proper treatment, most people are unaware of the long-term effects of these kinds of injuries.

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis is one of the most common long-term effects.

Many receive pain medication or muscle relaxers then are released from medical care. While the patients’ pain is hidden under medication, they settle their car crash accident case.


If you do, you may experience pain, headache, muscle stiffness and soreness, fatigue, and other problems months or years down the road. Nothing is more important than your health when you start to lose it. Except for life-threatening conditions, no other health condition will interfere with the quality of your life as much as this kind of chronic pain.

So, let’s answer some of these important questions.

1. What are my rights and what am I entitled to?

You have the right to be compensated for pain and suffering if the accident was not your fault. If you had the proper coverage, then you have the right to have you car fixed properly. You have the right to the proper medical care to assist you to regain the state of health that you had before the accident. Even if the accident was your fault, if you have medical coverage on your policy, you have the right to all  the care that is needed to make sure you have the same level of function prior to the accident. Just being out of pain may not be the full state of function. Read on! There may be many other things that you are entitled to. 

2. What if my car sustained only minor damage?

Documented studies done by Charles Carroll, MD, Paul McAfee, MD, and Lee Riley, MD, revealed:

“The amount of damage to the automobiles bears little relation to the force applied to the cervical spine (neck) of the occupants.”

In other words, the damage to the passengers is not necessarily directly related to the damage of the vehicle. As a matter of fact, many injuries occur in accidents that have little to no outward damage to the vehicle body.

A recent Canadian study (Brault et al., 1998) demonstrated an injury threshold of only 2.5 mph! In other words, a vehicle hitting your vehicle as slowly as 2.5 mph may cause injury to certain tissues in your body. Modern vehicles are equipped with bumpers that can withstand 10 mph impacts, leading you to absorb the energy of the impact, leaving your body and your spine to take the beating!

3. I’m only suffering from sore muscles. My doctor said it is just a strain and/or sprain and I will be okay. What does research show?

Arthur Ameis, MD, said in a 1986 report, “Whiplash injury to the neck is a significant 20th century problem without a natural parallel. It may be less surprising, therefore, that the protective and adaptive biologic mechanisms against movement injury seem often to fail in these circumstances.”

Ian MacNab, FRCS, (a world-renowned research scientist) reported in a 1982 study, “Using anthropomorphic Dummies, he (another researcher) showed that in a 15 mph collision, the head would accelerate with the force of 10 G’s. Victims of rear-end collision were indeed subjected to severe strains of the neck.”

This states car crashes and the injuries they create are a much greater health problem than most of us have been aware of until now. Sore muscles are only an outward sign that you may have a substantial injury to your spine and nervous system.

4. What do I need to know if I’ve been injured?

There are two important facts you need to be aware of if you are the one involved in a car crash and may be injured. First, since the possibility of spinal structure injuries, degenerative conditions could develop within months, leaving your with a permanent painful condition. Not to mention the disability to your nervous system as well.

Again, post-traumatic osteoarthritis is one of the most common degenerative conditions.

Second, the most common misconception about this kind of injury is it shows only as a little strain that will heal in a couple of weeks.

There are three phases in the healing process.

The first phase is the Acute Inflammatory Phase. This is characterized by the swelling and redness of the tissue, which is caused by the bleeding and oozing of the injured part. The fact that this goes on inside the neck and cannot be seen leads some to thing there wasn’t much damage. This phase can last up to 72 hours, so it is not uncommon for some to feel worse everyday for almost a week. Just because you start to feel better doesn’t mean you are healed. You have only gone through the first phase.

The second phase is the Phase of Regeneration. This is when the tear in the muscles and ligaments are healed with fibrous scar tissue. This phase of healing will last at least 6 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer.

The third phase is the Phase of Remodeling, when the fibrous scar tissue is remodeled into the shape of the original tissue. This phase is almost never treated by traditional medical therapy. To make matters worse, if you don’t receive proper treatment in this phase, you will have permanent disability to some extent. Depending on what tissue was injured, this phase can last up to a year. It is now easy to see why taking only pain medication for sore muscles may lead to a restriction if you want to live a full active life after the car accident.

What should you do?

In a study one by Kirkaldy-Willis, MD, he states, “These discussions clearly show that there is a component of motion that cannot be properly addressed by traditional medicine alone and that this component of motion can be properly addressed by osseous joint manipulation. Therefore, traditional chiropractic osseous joint manipulation is the treatment of choice for the remodeling of periarticular soft tissues that have sustained an injury.”

This is a complicated way of saying going to a chiropractor is the best way to receive care you need if you have been involved in a car crash. 

5. Suppose the person that hit me is uninsured. Can I still receive care?

YES! This is one of the advantages of the “no fault” laws we have here in Utah. Your minimum medical coverage is at $3,000 after a car accident. Even if the accident was your fault, you still have the right to have your medical coverage. Depending on the coverage you have on your vehicle, if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may have more than just the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If you are not sure what your own coverage is, call your insurance agent. Because of the number of people who have no coverage, it is one of the wisest additions to your coverage.

6. If I don’t have medical coverage on my policy, can I still receive care? 

Again, YES! As long as the person at fault has the minimum coverage required by law. Check with your insurance agent to see if it is wise to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your policy.

7. When should someone seek and attorney?

We recommend that you seek out a qualified experienced attorney soon after the accident. Many times, an insurance company will deny the benefits that should be available to you. Unfortunately, that practice is all too common! Insurance companies are trying to protect their bottom line, and not your rights. The judicial system is just too complicated to fight for your rights by yourself. Because HealthQuest of Murray specializes in treating car accident injuries, our billing specialists can assist you in choosing an attorney who fights for you. 

8. When should I settle with the insurance company?

The reason that you buy insurance in the first place is to protect yourself against loss in the event of an accident.  But you must also remember that your insurance company will do all that it can to reduce it’s own expenses.  After all, that is how they make their profit.  You have the right to be as good as you were before the accident, or if not, to be compensated for your loss.  So rule number one is, do not settle with your insurance company until you and your doctor are satisfied that you are as good as you are going to be.  In other words, you are the one that should make the final decision to settle.  Just don’t be pressured into a settlement for the promise of a few bucks that the insurance adjustor is offering to close out your case.  If you allow your case to be closed before you are completely well, you may very well be ensuring yourself a lifetime of pain and misery.  Make sure that you get all the proper care you are entitled to before you settle your claim.

9. How do I choose the right Clinic? Is there a difference? 

To some this may seem obvious, yet we are constantly surprised by those who would choose a doctor simply because he or she is close. HealthQuest of Murray has over 28 years of experience specializing in treating auto accident victims. We have seen literally thousands of patients in that time and helped them return to normal function with expert care. Just as you probably have had an experience with a barber or hair stylist that just couldn’t cut your hair the way you wanted, there is definitely a difference in experience and skill level with chiropractors. Dr. Tran at HealthQuest of Murray have attended hundreds of hours of postgraduate education in the field of personal injury treatment to go along with the thousands of patients they have treated and a 96% success rate. Our chiropractor has been specifically trained in advanced courses of study in the diagnosis and clinical management of cervical trauma and whiplash related joint disorders.


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