What to Do After a Loved One Has Been in a Car Accident: A Checklist (Part 1)
A dear friend or loved one is hurt, and you want to help. What constructive steps can you take? We’ll explore your options in a two-part post. (These are not presented in time-sensitive order, nor are they comprehensive. For insight into a legal case, consult an experienced car accident attorney. For medical advice, speak with a qualified doctor.)
- Go to the hospital to visit her.
If possible, get a ride to the hospital from a friend. Science suggests that learning about trauma can impair your driving ability, so play it safe. If necessary, use public transportation or a ride-share service.
2. Get help with your children.
If you have babies, toddlers or young kids, make arrangements for them as soon as possible against all else, so you can concentrate on your hurt loved one. You may need to notify school and have someone collect your children. Ask a relative or friend to take care of them for a few days.
- Keep friends and family in the loop.
Ask one or two people to spread the word, so you do not have to rehash the news repeatedly.
- Tell the boss.
- Call in favors from your own friends.
Be direct, and be specific. What do you need to serve your loved one, to coordinate with doctors and to stay comfortable? For instance: get fresh clothes, toiletries, medications, your cell phone charger and your tablet.
- Check in with law enforcement.
Get the report number and the name of the officer who went to the scene of the accident.
- Find an experienced Georgia car accident attorney,
Time may be of the essence to preserve critical evidence from the scene of the crash before it gets cleaned up or forensic clues get lost. Our team at Smith, Wallis and Scott LLP can help you develop a battle plan. Call us at (770) 214-2500 for insight about your next steps.
Someone You Love Was Hurt in a Georgia Car Accident: What Now?
You’ll never forget the phone call. Your day was going along like any other; then you got the news. A catastrophic car accident severely hurt someone you love. Perhaps a runaway truck veered into your mother’s car’s lane; or maybe a teen driver immersed in text messaging T-boned the vehicle.
In any case, the situation has probably been quite overwhelming. Hopefully, your loved one survived. But no matter what happened, you face many challenges in the weeks ahead.
To that end, in this and upcoming posts, we’ll discuss strategies, tactics and resources to cope with the aftermath of a loved one’s car crash. Please bookmark this series, or call us for immediate, personal assistance.
The Next Several Days and Weeks
In the short-term, your to-do list will likely be packed. (And it’s not like you didn’t already have a tremendous amount on your plate.) Among many other projects, you might have to notify employers, friends, and relatives; help with the immediate medical crisis; keep the family going with meals, clean clothes, and school; deal with insurance issues; and find a good lawyer. We’ll explore challenges related to all these problems.
Beyond Triage—Coping with a New Normal
Depending on what happened, the echo of the accident could ring for some time. Over the long haul, you may need to deal with costly rehab; psychological fallout; loss of income to the family; and legal and financial crises. We’ll walk you through what to expect and connect you with powerful resources to weather the storms ahead.
Undoubtedly, you’re feeling strong emotions—overwhelm, anxiety, dread, perhaps numbness. But you don’t have to go through these challenges alone! The experienced team at Smith, Wallis and Scott LLP is standing by to help your family understand and protect your rights. Call us at (770) 214-2500 for a confidential free consultation. We can help you reclaim control.
Common Back Injuries and Their Surprising Workplace Causes
Strains, sprains, and muscle tears are the most common workplace injuries that keep people from work in the United States. Although they affect every industry, the most vulnerable people labor in physically demanding jobs in transportation, warehousing, agriculture, forestry, and healthcare.
If you overuse a back muscle–either in a single, stressful incident or by repeating the same movement over and over–you may strain it. Twisting is especially stressful for the back, so even office workers who swivel frequently between tasks risk pulling a lower back muscle.
If you expose a back ligament to intense stress–again, either through repetitive movement, like moving boxes, or a single incident–it may tear. A torn back ligament, or a back sprain, takes longer to heal than a pulled muscle.
Pulled muscles and sprained backs are the most common causes of lower back pain; fortunately, though they might not feel like it, they’re also the easiest to treat. Most strains will heal naturally in several weeks, although physical therapy can prevent future injuries. (Learn more about identifying and treating lumbar sprains and pulled muscles here.)
A slipped disk, or hernia, is the result of overexertion (e.g. from lifting a hospital patient). The disk protrudes from the spine and pinches adjacent nerves, causing lower back pain and sciatica. (Learn more about recognizing the symptoms of a slipped disk here.)
There’s nothing subtle about a broken spine, nor much surprising about what causes it. Workplace accidents, often in dangerous industries like manufacturing and farming, can break the bones in the vertebrae, sometimes leading to chronic back pain that lasts for years.
Spinal Cord Injury
Damage to the nerves of the spinal cord causes loss of sensation, loss of function, and, sometimes, even paralysis.
Navigating a workplace injury can be an overwhelming undertaking. We’re here to help you get compensation, so you can focus on getting better. To learn more, contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP.
Both Workplace Accidents and Overuse Cause Serious Back Pain
Maybe your back spasmed suddenly after an accident at work; or maybe years of repetitive lifting, twisting, bending, or sitting have finally caught up with you. In either case, you may qualify for workers’ compensation in the state of Georgia.
First, let’s take a closer look at two key categories of back injuries.
#1. Accidental Injuries
A workplace mishap—caused perhaps by carelessness, lack of signage or a supervisor’s assigning you a task that you weren’t physically strong enough to handle—suddenly and obviously debilitated you. For example, you slipped on a wet floor, or a heavy load fell as you lifted it. Injuries of this kind can cause back strain, muscle tears, or painful muscle spasms. Despite their excruciating nature, these injuries are often more straightforward than cumulative injuries, because they can be traced back to a single incident.
Acute Trauma Can Still Cause Persistent Pain
A crisis that takes minutes or even seconds to unfold can have profound repercussions—and it’s often hard to predict what will happen long term. For instance, a broken back—caused by a two-story fall off construction scaffolding—might heal in just a few months. A more minor-seeming problem, such as a slipped disk, can cause shooting pain that lasts for years because it’s continually putting pressure on the nerves in your back. (Learn more about how to recognize a slipped disk here.)
#2. Overuse Injuries
Any physical task–from lifting a heavy box to sitting all day at a desk–can cause back pain if you do it too much. Up to 90% of people experience back pain at some point. Most of these cases are due to overuse rather than a traumatic accident.
Work Can Exacerbate Pre-Existing Back Problems
Repetitive work overloads specific muscles in the back, making it more difficult for them to recover from strain. This can exacerbate problems like arthritis, scoliosis, and osteoporosis, weakening your back and leaving it vulnerable to injury. Given time, overuse injuries can be just as painful as accidental injuries. (Learn how to prevent overuse injuries at work here.)
Injuries caused by workplace accidents and overuse both can qualify you for workers’ compensation in Georgia. To learn more about your options, contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP.
When Work Hurts: Seeking Compensation and Treatment for Back Pain
Perhaps your back gave out as you caught a slipping load; or perhaps you slouched in an uncomfortable office chair day after day, year after year, and then developed extreme low back pain. Either way, your workplace accident debilitated you, and now you need to figure out the next steps. For better or for worse, you’re not alone: millions of people can trace back pain to their workplaces.
In fact, back pain is the single most common complaint in a wide range of professions. At any given moment, between 15% and 42% of the population suffers from back pain, much of it related to workplace accidents or to years of repetitive work.
Over the next several weeks, we’re going to explore this topic in great depth on the blog, providing insights and resources to help you deal with your journey to recovery. Below is an overview of some of the key areas we’ll examine—please bookmark the blog and stay tuned for updates, or contact our team for help with workers’ compensation.
Identifying Your Injury
Back pain can take many forms, none of which are particularly pleasant. Some injuries, like a pulled muscle, are temporary and manageable. Others, like a slipped disk, are acute and persistent. To determine how serious your injury is, see a doctor. (In future posts, we’ll dive into the science—and controversy—of back injury diagnosis and explain how insurance companies think about these issues.)
Finding the Right Treatment
In some cases, a restful break may be all you need to heal. Physical therapy also helps repair muscles, reducing pain or eliminating it for good. Serious situations, like a slipped disk, may require surgery.
Back injuries from workplace accidents and overuse both qualify for workers’ compensation in the state of Georgia. In other words, you may qualify for time off work as well as money to compensate you for costs related to physical therapy or surgery.
Living with the Agony
Despite the debilitating nature of these injuries, your life isn’t over, and neither is your career. As we move forward in our series, we’ll take a look at various systems and ideas for living well with pain.
For instance, good lifting techniques and improved office space ergonomics can help once you return to work.
Navigating the emotional, physical and financial chaos created by a major back injury can be overwhelming. We’re here to help you get fair compensation, so you can focus on getting better. To learn more, contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP for a confidential consultation.
Car Accident Claims: Summing Up the Big Ideas
Georgia roads grow safer every year, but drivers and passengers do remain exceedingly vulnerable. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported 116,458 traffic-related injuries in 2013—down considerably from 128,315 in 2007. These injured parties can face a lengthy negotiation settlement process and, sometimes, litigation.
The following are the most important takeaways to keep in mind as you pursue a car accident settlement:
The Settlement Negotiation Process
Many Georgia car accident victims prefer the apparent guarantee of a settlement to the risk of trial. Nothing is ever certain, however, and the settlement process can be frustratingly complex. Insurance adjusters often delay claims in hopes of avoiding significant payouts. Further complications can be caused by modified comparative fault, which holds drivers at partial fault for accidents liable. Negotiations often break down, but the threat of a lawsuit can sometimes spark action among difficult adjusters.
Complicated in the best of situations, car accident cases become especially thorny when uninsured or underinsured drivers are involved. Uninsured motorist coverage provides valuable protection. Unfortunately, insurance companies often balk at providing fair coverage for drivers with UMC policies. Lack of insurance may play a role in personal injury lawsuits, especially if accompanied by speeding, running lights or other reckless behavior.
Returning to the Road
You may suffer anxiety when you finally get behind the wheel, or you may feel guilty about your role in the accident, no matter how minor. Commit to driving distraction-free. Follow the rules of the road and pull over if anxiety takes over. Apply the lessons from your accident to your daily drives, and those feelings of guilt and fear will lessen with time.
Contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP at your earliest convenience to learn more about the settlement process. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve and reclaim peace of mind.
Obstacles to Enjoying Life Following a Car Accident
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. Michael Jordan
In addition to lasting physical damage, many car accident victims suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. These obstacles can prevent victims from pursuing their dreams long after they’ve secured settlements.
Fear of the Road
Many car crash victims suffer road-based anxiety for years, even decades following their accident. Your solution may be to stay far away from the driver’s seat. Buses, carpools and Uber make it possible to avoid driving on your own indefinitely. You might not actively need a car, but you’ll feel far more confident once you’ve conquered lingering fears of driving. Enroll in driver’s education or practice in quiet neighborhoods with a trusted friend. Face your fears head-on.
If a drunk, inattentive or otherwise negligent driver caused your accident, you have every right to feel angry. Let that anger fester, however, and you’ll never find true satisfaction in your new life. Embrace the challenge of forgiveness, which Mayo Clinic experts refer to as “a commitment to a process of change.”
To hasten the forgiveness process, write a list of all the ways the responsible driver’s behavior harmed you. Develop a second list, detailing your contributions to the accident (if any), and reasons for self-anger. Read each listed item and mentally affirm, “I’m sorry and I forgive you.” You may not believe the mantra at first; continue the exercise for a week and your feelings will begin to change.
The team at Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP is committed to delivering a favorable resolution so you can move on with your life. Reach out today to learn more.
Looking Ahead to a Better Life After Your Georgia Car Accident
If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance. Ralph Marston
A terrifying car accident can change your entire outlook on life. Suddenly, every trip to the grocery store feels like an ordeal. Many survivors suffer PTSD and depression, but these and other issues can be overcome. The following are a few thoughts worth considering as you plan for a satisfying post-accident life:
Confidence and Prudence Behind the Wheel
Use the pain of your car accident to transform you into a better person. What can you, as a driver, do to prevent future crashes? Take responsibility for your role (if any) in the accident, and vow to drive attentively and responsibly in the future. Set your goals in writing; researchers at Dominican University claim that those who physically record their aspirations achieve far more than those who merely think about their goals.
Some post-crash driving related anxiety is natural. Persevere. Bring a friend if necessary, but get behind the wheel often so you can improve both your skills and confidence.
Embrace the Stockdale Paradox
Still stuck in a rut after a traumatic car accident? Look to the Stockdale paradox for motivation. Named for Vice Admiral James Stockdale, the theory presents an alternative to candy-coated optimism. It suggests that sufferers should acknowledge the reality of their situation, but resolve to persevere anyway. Your post-crash dream life may not look exactly like your past ambitions, but with a little grit, you can accomplish great things.
Dr. Dennis Charney explains it eloquently here: “The Stockdale Paradox really defines the optimism that is most important in becoming a resilient person and that is, when you’re faced with a challenge or a trauma, you look at that challenge objectively. You might make the assessment, ‘I’m in really big trouble.’ You have a realistic assessment of what you’re facing. On the other hand, you have the attitude and the confidence to say, ‘But I will prevail. I’m in a tough spot, but I will prevail.’ That is the optimism that relates to resilience.”
As you look forward to a fulfilling post-accident life, don’t forget the importance of strong legal advocacy. Contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today to learn more.
SSDI: Summing Up the Big Ideas
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not the simple program you once might have assumed. It’s a mess of applications, documentation and claim denials. Your attorney can serve as the calm through the storm, ensuring that you secure the benefits needed to lead a satisfying life.
Why Are SSDI Claims So Difficult to Secure?
High SSDI rejection rates are nothing new, but recent Social Security Administration efforts have tightened the belt for this and other disability programs. The goal, ostensibly, is to prevent those in good health from acquiring undeserved benefits. Unfortunately, the ensuing qualification process discourages many eligible individuals from pushing for the benefits they deserve. Complications include consultative medical exams, medical source limitations and the SSA’s official listing of impairments.
Even after securing disability, claimants may receive surprisingly low payments; in 2016, the average monthly compensation was just $1,166, with many qualified individuals receiving less than $1,000 each month.
Overpayment and Stopped Payments
Remain vigilant after securing SSDI, since your payments could suddenly stop. The SSA may ultimately decide you earn too much or aren’t sick enough for benefits. If SSA officials believe you’ve been paid too much, repayment may prove necessary. You can request reconsideration, but if it’s denied, you may be forced to appeal.
Working with a Social Security Disability Attorney
Forget navigating the quagmire of the Social Security Administration on your own; a skilled attorney could spell the difference between getting by with benefits and an outright denial. That being said, your lawyer can’t do it all alone; you’ll need to arrive at all appointments prepared with requested paperwork. Be honest about your condition and the true extent of your suffering; even minor exaggerations could lead to claim denial.
Throughout our blog posts on the topic over the past several months, you’ve hopefully discovered a great deal about SSDI, but applying theory to practice is challenging. Contact the experienced, compassionate SSDI lawyers at Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today to schedule a confidential case evaluation.
Common Obstacles to Living the Good Life With SSDI
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Christopher Reeve
Looking ahead to the future, you’ve emerged victorious in your battle for Social Security disability benefits—so why do you still feel anxious? Turns out, the difficulties don’t end upon claim approval. Thankfully, your newly-acquired perseverance will allow you to overcome more than you ever thought possible, including these obstacles:
Fear of a Worsening Condition
Your suffering has made you deeply thankful for the physical abilities you still possess, but also fearful of future deterioration. What happens when you can no longer walk? What if your degrading cognitive state leads to memory loss, depression or worse?
Overcome the above fears by leading the healthiest life possible right now. Eat a balanced diet, maintain an active lifestyle (ideally featuring primarily low-impact activities) and visit your doctor regularly. Continue to pursue as many interests and activities as you can in your present condition.
Don’t Ditch the Bucket List
You once maintained a long bucket list featuring bungee jumping or wilderness safaris. Your disability might make most of those aspirations seem impossible. Some may be, but others remain well within reach. Prosthetics, adaptive gear and group trips can help you chase adventure. Look to stories of disabled thrill seekers for inspiration. For example, paraplegic adventurer Riley Martin bungee jumped in his wheelchair to prove a point about leading a full life while disabled.
Typically associated with able-bodied teens, FOMO (fear of missing out) commonly strikes disabled individuals, who dread being left behind. Remind your friends that you are more than your disability. Take charge and plan outings that demonstrate your full abilities while still accommodating your limitations.
Maintaining a Growth Mindset
Remember Carol Dweck’s growth versus fixed mindset as you recover. Those with a fixed mindset (belief that intelligence, etc. are fixed traits) achieve far less than those who believe in the capacity for long-term growth
Life with a disability can be incredibly fulfilling, especially if you successfully secure SSDI benefits. Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP can help; get in touch today to learn more.