Auto Injury



Almost everyone will be involved in a traffic collision at one point or another. While it is important to collect the appropriate information at the scene, this is often quite challenging under the chaotic and unexpected circumstances. This pamphlet was design to provide motorists with a checklist of things to do in the event of a collision and in the aftermath. Keep it in your glove compartment. It may come in very handy some day and save you a lot of aggravation.

In most cases, if you are in a collision, you should remain inside you vehicle until you are certain it is safe to exit the vehicle. If the collision is not severe and your vehicle can be safely driven to the side of the road and out of traffic, you should do so. Once on the side of the road, it may be safest to exit your vehicle on the side opposite traffic. If it is unsafe to exit the vehicle, use your cell phone to call 911 or ask another motorist to do so and wait for police or emergency workers to arrive.

If you are able, assist injured persons at the scene until emergency personnel arrive. If you have the training or skills, provide first aid to those who require it. Remember the ABC’S of first aid: maintains a victim’s Airway, breathing, and Circulation (i.e., make sure there is a pulse and stop any serious bleeding). Most states have Good Samaritan Laws that protect persons attempting to render first aid, no matter what their training happens to be. Don’t be afraid to help persons in need.

Reporting traffic crashes

In nearly all sates the law requires that all traffic collisions be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV), regardless of whether it was your fault or the fault of another driver. Collision on private property must also be reported. If you report the collision to your insurance agent, he or she can report it to the DMV for you. Use the checklist provided in this booklet to collect all necessary information from the other person involved in the crash.

Protecting yourself

There is always the possibility that you may be cited for causing the collision, even if you feel you were not at fault. It is also possible that other persons may file a lawsuit against you, alleging your responsibility. In order to protect yourself in either event, following are recommendations that can save you a lot of trouble later on.
If there are any witnesses to the collision, it is helpful to collect their names, phone numbers, addresses, and get a brief statement from them. Your insurance agent, the police, or your lawyer, should you later hire one, may want to get a statement from them later. Write down the license numbers and descriptions of other vehicles hat appear to be involved in the collision, especially if they attempt to leave the scene before sharing their information. Draw a diagram of the crash scene, making note of skid marks, glass, fluid spatter marks, locations of damaged roadway, and other details. Collect broken parts, shredded tire tread, or other debris from the crash. This can also sometimes be helpful later as evidence, especially if reconstructing the crash becomes necessary. If you have a camera, taking photos of the crash scene, skid marks, gouge marks in the road, and involved vehicles are a good idea.

Always be courteous and helpful to police officers and emergency workers. They have a difficult job and are only trying to help. Remember that you are required by law to provide the following information to any law enforcement officer who comes to the scene and requests it: you driver’s license, registration information, current address, and insurance company name and policy number.

Information you should collect at the scene (even if police do come to the scene)

Note that police officers may come to the scene but may leave if there are no apparent injures, disruptions in traffic, etc., or if they have other pressing business. Many motorists are later dismayed that no police report was actually made, even though the police had been on the scene. This is why your collection of information can be so important. Be sure to obtain the following information:

  • Date and time of the collision
  • Location of the collision (direction of travel, lane number, street address)
  • Driver license number and state of issue of other motorists involved; their dates of birth
  • Addresses and phone number of other motorists involved.
  • Insurance company name and agent’s name of other motorists’ policy number and expiration date; policy holder’s name and address
  • Names and addresses of passengers in other vehicles (make, model, year, license plate number and state of issue, and any other unusual features)
  • Estimate the amount of property damage and its location to your vehicle and others involved by using a simple diagram or drawing.
  • If police officers are on the scene, write down their names and badge numbers for future reference
  • Any apparent injuries to persons involved in the collision, including yourself

What to do after the collision

Many crash victims feel shaken, but otherwise uninjured at the time of the crash, but 24-72 hours later, become symptomatic, experiencing headache, neck pain, or other symptoms. If you are advised by emergency workers at the scene to go directly to the hospital, it is best to follow their advice. Such advice is usually made with the benefit of much experience. If you feel that you are not injured, but will not be able to drive safely after the crash, follow you instincts and refrain from driving. If you do not go directly to the hospital, it is always a good strategy to see your doctor for a checkup soon after a crash.

If the collision was the fault of the other driver, his or her insurance policy will pay for any medical or chiropractic treatment you should require. If the other motorist was uninsured or the collision was your fault, your own insurance policy will usually provide for your treatment. If healthcare cost reimbursement is ever disputed, your treating doctor will usually continue to treat you and wait until this dispute is settled to receive his or her fees. The most important thing is to maintain active necessary treatment in order to achieve the most complete and speedy recovery.

What about defective safety devices?

If there is ever a question that some part or safety system on your vehicle was defective, such as the tires, brakes, accelerator, airbag, or restraint systems, you should maintain the chain of custody of the vehicle. If the vehicle is towed to a salvage lot and the insurer declares it a total loss, it can be sold and important evidence may be lost. In product liability cases in the past, such vehicles were quickly purchased by the defendants and destroyed in order to prevent the plaintiffs from using the evidence against them in a trial.

Do you need a lawyer?

Whether you will need the services of lawyer will depend on many factors. Your healthcare provider has plenty of experience in treating collision victims and can offer you good advice based on the circumstances of your particular case. Should you decide to seek advice from a lawyer, it is advisable to find one who specialize in personal injury cases and one recommended by your doctor. Cases are usually taken on a contingency fee basis; you usually will pay nothing until the case is concluded.

Auto Safety Facts

That can save your life or the lives of your children

Seat belts

Always wear your seat belt and shoulder harness when riding a vehicle. The safest place for you in a crush is sitting securely in your seat. Many fatal crashes occur at relatively low speeds and you double the chances you will survive a crash by wearing your belts.

Your best bet in reducing your risk of fatal crash is your seat belt. Here are the facts:

  1. The belt should cross your shoulder and rest on your hips and pelvis.
  2. Pregnant women should place restraint belts over under the abdomen.

In most cases, in a frontal crash with restraints you will stay safely in your seat and away from the car’s interior parts.

In a frontal crash without restraints as your car stops abruptly, your body will keep moving forward at collision speed.

Many people mistakenly believe that they can brace against the steering wheel and avoid serious injury in a frontal type crash. However, even at only 25 mph, an unrestrained driver can strike the steering wheel with the same force as falling from a 3rd floor balcony.

Child Restraint Systems (CRS)

Did you know that, tragically, more than 40% of children who die in car crashes are unbelted? Always be sure children are properly protected when riding in a moving motor vehicle under your control. It’s the law.

In most cases, child restraint systems (CRS) provide more safety than your car’s standard seats. But, research shows that most parents either don’t use them at all or don’t use CRS properly. For more information about CRS or other safety issues, please check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website at www.nhtsa.gov. Its also a good idea to check your car’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations before shopping for a CRS. Note: Some cars made before 1996 have the wrong kind of belt anchors for typical CRS systems, but Ford, GM, Honda, and Nissan make replacement parts to upgrade for newer CRS compatibility. Check with your dealer.

All children under 12 years of age should ride in the back seat when possible. Carefully install the CRS using both the seat and vehicle instruction manuals. You can have your seat installation checked at local child safety seat check points. Visit www.nhtsa.gov or your local law enforcement office for assistance.

Airbags

Airbags are supplemental restraint system (SRS): They are designed to work in conjunction with your seat belts and shoulder harnesses, Not instead of them. Any people mistakenly believe that because airbags are “newer technology” they must be more effective than seat belts and shoulder harnesses. However, by themselves, airbags provide less protection than the seat belts and shoulder harnesses do by themselves. Used together, they offer the most protection in a crash.

Special Risk occupants

A smaller person, whose sternum is within 10” or less of the steering wheel, is at risk of being struck by the deploying bag. Injuries can be serious or fatal. Some cars have adjustable brake and accelerator pedals to allow shorter drivers to adject their seats father back.

Beware

Airbags are very expensive to replace and a large black market of stolen airbags has developed. Unscrupulous repair centers may replace airbags with stolen airbags which may be damaged or designed for a different make and model of car. Unscrupulous dealers have been known to sell used cars in which the airbags have been removed.

Head Restraints

Each year nearly 3 million people suffer a whiplash injury. About half are left with some chronic problems and about 10% become permanently disable. Only 25% of us correctly adjust our head restraints. This is the single most important way to prevent whiplash injury.

What to do if you’re about to be hit from the rear

  • Sit fully back against seat and head restraints.
  • Shrug shoulders firmly to limit neck motion
  • Look straight ahead with head back slightly.
  • (If stopped already) apply brake firmly.
  • (if the driver) place hands flat against the steering wheel.

Head restraints effectiveness for most new cars is rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)(www.iihs.org). Some cars are equipped with special anti-whiplash head restraints.

How to choose a safe vehicle

Decide what type of vehicle you really need; In general, larger cars are safer than smaller cars. When you crash into a car that is 50% heavier than yours, for example, your risk of dying in that crash is 3-5 times higher than the other driver’s.

SUVs have advantage of size, but are top heavy and more prone to roll-over crashes. They also take longer to stop and are less able to avoid crashes in the first place, compared to passenger cars.

Pick-ups and large vans also have generally poor handling characteristics compared to passenger cars.

Minivans offer reasonably good handling characteristic and fuel economy, and many have good crash ratings.

Consider safety systems that reduce the chances of a crash

  • Antilock brakes (ABS)
  • Electronic stability control (ESC or ESP)
  • All wheel drive
  • Active cruise control
  • Crash warning sensors
  • High intensity output headlights



Consider safety systems that improve crash-worthiness

  • Airbags: front, side and side curtain
  • Anti-whiplash seats

Check the crash test Result

NHTSA’s New Car Assessment program (NCAP) awards stars based on crash test performance from crashing into a rigid barrier at 35mph (www.nhtsa.gov). They also conduct side impact and roll tests.

A 5 star rating indicates that the probability of a serious injury or death in a crash is 10% or less; 4 stars equates to risks of 11-20%; 3 stars equates to risks of 21-35%; 2 stars equates to risks of 35-45% risk; 1 stars equates to a risk greater than 46%

Also realize that these rating are valid only across a size classification. So a 5 star-rated larger car will be generally safer than a 5 star-rated subcompact car. The IIHS also tests cars by crashing them into deformable barriers at 40mph and posts the results on their website.

Some cars perform well in NCAP tests, but poorly in IIHS tests and vice versa. Others might have good frontal rating but poor side ratings.

Work Injuries

Minnesota Work comp covers work-related personal injuries

One of the first things we have to determine when an employee comes into our office is whether the claimed injury is work related. As such, we need to look at what a compensable “personal injury” would be under the law.

Minnesota Statute 176.011 defines a personal injury as follows :

“Personal Injury” means injury arising out of and in the course of employment and includes personal injury caused by occupational disease; but does not cover an employee except while engaged in, on, or about the premises where the employee’s services require the employee’s presence as a part of that services at the time of the injury and during the hours of that services. Where the employer regularly furnished transportation to employees to and from the place of employment, those employees are subject to this chapter while being so transported.

As you can see, the statute does very little to provide a clear definition of what injuries would be compensable. Despite the lack of a definition that outlines each injury, the court has recognized a variety of compensable, work-related injuries, including;

  • Specific or direct trauma injuries;
  • Occupational diseases or exposure (i.e., Asbestosis, black lung disease, etc.);
  • Aggravation or acceleration of a pre-existing condition;
  • Repetitive or cumulative trauma injury, also known as a “Gillette injury”;
  • A physical injury resulting from mental stress (i.e., heart attack)

The above list does not encompass every type of injury. An attorney would be best suited to advise you on the law and whether the injury would be compensable. Although you believe you have a work related injury, the employer and insurer may argue to the contrary. If you believe you have a work-related injury, it may be in your best interest to seek legal advice.