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June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.  Most people don’t associate PTSD with vehicle collisions, but it is something that I see all the time. Todd Buckley, PhD, on the website U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, says that researchers are looking more closely at motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) as a common cause of traumatic stress. In one large study, accidents were shown to be the traumatic event most frequently experienced by males (25%) and the second most frequent traumatic event experienced by females (13%) in the United States. Over 100 billion dollars are spent every year to take care of the damage caused by auto accidents. Survivors of MVAs often also experience emotional distress as a result of such accidents. Mental health difficulties such as posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety are problems survivors of severe MVAs may exhibit.

How many people experience serious motor vehicle accidents?

One unfortunate consequence of the high volume of commuter and personal travel in the US is the number of accidents that result in personal injury and fatalities. In any given year, approximately 1% of the US population will be injured in motor vehicle accidents. Thus, MVAs account for over three million injuries annually and are one of the most common traumas individuals experience.

How many people develop MVA-related PTSD and other psychological reactions?

Studies of the general population have found that approximately 9% of MVA survivors develop PTSD. Rates are significantly higher in samples of MVA survivors who seek mental-health treatment. Studies show that between 14% and 100% of MVA survivors who seek mental-health treatment have PTSD, with an average of 60% across studies. In addition, between 3% and 53% of MVA survivors who seek treatment and have PTSD also have a mood disorder such as Major Depression. Finally, in one large study of MVA survivors who sought treatment, 27% had an anxiety disorder in addition to their PTSD, and 15% reported a phobia of driving.

When do you seek help?

You should seek medical advice if your symptoms:

Are worrying you.

Are preventing you from doing your normal activities.

Have lasted longer than three months after the accident.

Are causing your friends and/or relatives to be worried about you.

If your symptoms don’t ease after 3 months, or if your symptoms are severe enough to stop you living your normal life, then you have may an anxiety disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

I hope this will help those of you out there who are suffering after a collision.  Please remember that we are always available to listen to you should you feel the need.

 

What You Need to Know When a Dog Bite Leaves You Scarred in More Ways Than One (1)

Negligence on the part of the owner often plays a role in a dog bite or animal attack. Savage Stallion is not just a great name for a rock band! Laws vary by county, so if you, or someone you know, have been bitten or attacked, it’s important to seek legal advice right away to help determine liability and negligence and seek damages, if appropriate. And of course, if there is an injury, seek immediate medical attention!
Stay safe out there friends!
YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne

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Listen to any morning traffic report or talk to any friend and you know — car accidents happen all the time. And everyone’s got their own story. So how do you separate fact from fiction?

Here are five of the most persistent car accident myths compiled by Christopher Coble, and why they’re they are just plain wrong.

If You’re Not Hurt Right Away, You Can’t Sue for Injuries Later.

Some injuries, especially those like whiplash, can take weeks or months to develop noticeable symptoms. As long as you’re within your state’s statute of limitations, you can file an injury claim. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you should probably seek medical attention immediately, just to be safe.

The Other Driver and I Can Work It Out.

One of the biggest mistakes after a car accident is admitting fault. And this can happen easily, even by mistake, if you’re negotiating on your own with the other driver. While a minor fender bender may only require the exchange of insurance information, anything more serious may require legal assistance.

The Police Will Determine Whose Fault It Was.

If your car accident involves significant damage or any injury, you should call the police so they can write an accident report. And while this report may come in handy in court later, the police don’t ultimately decide blame for an accident. It’s possible that insurance companies, lawyers, and the courts could battle over liability, so you should supplement any police report with your own notes, pictures, evidence, and recollections.

Your Insurance Company Will Handle Everything.

While insurance is a great, and a legally required thing to have, your policy may not cover everything, and the company may not be eager to pay out what is covered. You should review any offer your insurance company makes and be especially wary of talking to the other driver’s insurance company or attorneys.

I Don’t Need an Attorney to File My Injury Claim.

It’s possible a minor accident won’t necessitate the advice of an attorney, but if there’s any dispute regarding who was at fault, the damages, or enforcing payment, you might want a good lawyer on your side. This is true even if you’re planning on settling your claim out of court.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself involved in a serious car accident. But if you have been, you may want to consult an attorney regarding your options.

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A black box. Also known as event data recorder it is traditionally associated with airplane accidents because it helps the investigators to determine what went wrong. But the technology is no longer limited to aircrafts. In fact, you most likely have a black box beneath your seat or behind the dashboard in your car. Almost all new cars are already equipped with one of these small devices and if you drive a car that is not older from 5 years, you most likely have one yourself. If you are not sure whether your car is equipped with a car black box or not, you can check the owner manual. The data from the car black box is a reliable record of the driver’s actions few seconds before the accident and is an important piece of evidence when there are no witnesses of the accident or/and the drivers are blaming each other for causing the collision. It records various data depending from one car to another, most often the speed, turning, braking, accelerating, decelerating, etc. about five seconds before the collision. However, those five seconds are usually enough to get the necessary information about the events that led to the accident. Even more, the data from the car black box has been also used as evidence in the courts and had a major influence on the outcome of the trial.

It is vitally important to contact an experienced Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible after your accident in order to preserve as much evidence as possible.

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Last week I wrote about a young client of mine who developed an intense fear of driving or being a passenger in an automobile after she was involved in a rear end collision that injured her.  Many of you expressed a similar fear, so this week I researched to find some helpful tips to overcome, or at least alleviate, this common fear.

If you are someone that would like to overcome a driving fear, these tips from Jennifer Johnson may be very helpful. If you are the type of person who would rather run in the opposite direction in order to avoid driving or if you find yourself wobbling on jelly-legs whenever you try to open the driver’s door, it is possible that you are suffering from driving anxiety. Here are some tips on how you can cope with driving anxiety…

Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective relaxation techniques for anxiety disorders.

Self-talking and positive affirmations are another relaxation technique that you can make use of while driving.  Tell yourself some words of encouragement such as “I can do this and I will be at my destination very soon and safely!”

Another self-talk technique is to tell yourself your reason for driving and outline the details or purpose for the trip.  The key here is to try to relax yourself by distracting your mind and keeping it away from any negative thoughts that will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety.

Think of the good points for your purpose of driving. Are you excited about your arrival or the event coming up?

There are also self-help driving programs that have been helpful to many.

Observe Mindfulness While Driving

You need to observe ‘mindfulness’ all throughout the duration of your trip. Don’t allow your anxiety to make you lose focus whilst driving! Once you notice your hands starting to grip the steering wheel more tightly and your mind is telling you about impending accidents…stop your thoughts and get back to rule number one. Use relaxation techniques.

Choose A Driving Companion

People who are suffering from driving anxiety should carefully choose someone to keep them company while driving.  It should be someone whom you trust and someone who is very much aware of your anxiety and completely understands your condition.

This person must also be prepared to help you relax and stay calm.

Avoid those people who do not understand your anxiety or those who will only be causing you more stress and anxiety behind the wheel. Even if it is a husband or wife…if they are not supportive…do not drive…let them. Only drive with people who can help…not hinder. If you also hate being a passenger, say positive affirmations and deep breathe.

Know When To Take Driving Breaks

If you are experiencing driving anxiety, it is best to take several breaks behind the wheel. For example, you can take a break every 30 minutes of driving. You can either have someone else drive the car or you can look for a safe place to park for a few minutes.

You may increase the length of time for driving and shorten the time for your breaks once you notice yourself improving. If you are in a hurry, allow a trusted friend or someone else to do the driving for you.

Anxiety First Aid Kit

Another important thing that you must remember before you start driving is to check whether your anxiety first aid kit is complete.  Make sure that you have your bottle of water, cell phone with its charger and your relaxation CD inside the car.  It would also be best to have your own GPS so you can easily find your way back especially when you are driving to unfamiliar places.

Avoid Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications may effectively relieve your anxiety. Unfortunately, most of these anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications cannot be taken while driving.  Taking these medications before or during driving is not recommended and will only increase your risk of accidents.

There are other tips too, such as progressive muscle relaxation for driving anxiety. There are self-help programs too and in my opinion these natural anxiety relief techniques are the best!

I sincerely hope this is helpful! Stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne Howanitz

 References

  1. http://www.theravive.com/blog/post/2011/09/25/Coping-With-Your-Driving-Anxieties.aspx
  2. http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/types/driving
  3. http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia
  4. Anxiety relief techniques blog by Jennifer Johnson

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The most dangerous thing you do daily is get into a vehicle. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the U.S., and the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it is estimated that the numbers for 2015 will come in even higher. While you cannot control what other drivers do, you can minimize your risk of being in car accident by modifying your own behavior and always being alert to red flag behavior on the part of other drivers.

Red Flags to watch out for on the road would include:

  1. Tailgating
  2. Failing to indicate
  3. Hogging the middle lane
  4. Dangerous overtaking
  5. Hogging the outside lane
  6. Jumping traffic lights
  7. Undertaking
  8. Being slow away from traffic lights
  9. Hesitant braking
  10. Last-minute braking

And this doesn’t even take into count the drunk, distracted and new and old drivers on the roads!

Stay safe out there friends!

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So, why should you hire me? Besides the fact that I like to eat? 🙂  Here are some good reasons to hire me, or another Personal Injury Attorney.

There are many benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney when you’ve been injured in a car accident, especially if your injuries are serious. See below for some of the ways hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you deal with your claim.

Experience with Car Insurance Companies

You don’t deal with insurance companies every day. These lawyers do. They understand the process of reaching a settlement, and because they’ve seen cases like yours, most personal injury law firms have a good idea of the type of settlement you can expect.

An attorney also understands how to negotiate with auto insurance companies to get you the fairest settlement possible.

Knowledge of the Law

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the particular laws that apply to your accident. Because of this, they may see other avenues for settlement that you don’t. This can be especially important if the accident involved an uninsured driver.

Understanding of Accident-Related Injuries

Because lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases deal with injuries caused in car accidents frequently, a trained attorney may be able to make recommendations for medical tests and care you should explore.

More importantly, he will understand the long-term effects, if any, of your injuries. This is vitally important in deciding whether a settlement offer is a fair one.

Court Experience

Finally, if you are unable to reach a settlement with an insurance company, or if the cost of the injuries exceeds the insured amount, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court.

This is essential if you have to sue the auto insurance company or others to get full coverage of your medical expenses and other pain and suffering.

Source:  DMV.org

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Many of us choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, traveling to visit relatives or taking a winter vacation, but with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, taking the family vehicle is dangerous. In 2013, 360 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 88 on Christmas Day, and 343 people on New Year’s Day  according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals. There are other dangers out there too friends.

Here are some great, simple tips from AAA and myself to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.

  1. Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
  2. Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  3. Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
  4. If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
  5. Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
  6. In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
  7. Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
  8. And lastly, but certainly not least, NO TEXTING!

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and arrive safely to enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

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Chances are that after an accident your first priority was to recover from the injuries your body sustained. Many of my clients struggle mentally in the wake of a crash. If this happens to you, it’s important to get help.

It might have been a crash where you were the driver, a passenger, a pedestrian or even just an observer.

Lynda Matthews, the Head of the Rehabilitation Counselling Unit at the University of Sydney, says that while many people will recover totally, even from severe road crashes, up to 30 per cent of people will have to deal with a negative psychological response.

“It’s not so much the severity of the crash or the severity of any resulting injury that counts – it’s how someone perceives it,” Dr. Matthews says.  “If you perceive the crash as life-threatening, or if someone is killed in the accident, then that can influence your response.”

The good news is that most people will recover from the anxiety which is a natural reaction to a stressful incident. Some people will have no symptoms of anxiety at all, others will have a few, while others will run the full gamut.

Common symptoms of anxiety include worrying, being very active, feeling irritable, unable to relax or sleep properly, having no energy, finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling upset, angry, confused, tired, helpless or ‘out-of-control’.

Anxiety can make a person feel unsociable and you may have unwanted thoughts or experience problems with personal relationships.

Dr. Matthews says that most people recovering from a crash generally focus first on physical recovery – treatment in hospital, visiting physiotherapists and the like. It’s also very important for people to tell doctors if they are feeling anxious or distressed.
And there are simple things you can do if you feel anxiety taking control.

“If you feel like it, it’s good to talk with people about the accident. One of the most important parts of recovery is having support from family and friends,” says Dr. Matthews.

“It’s also very important to try and re-engage with your social scene and get back to work – to get back to your pre-crash lifestyle.”

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

Here are some tips to look after your mental health following an accident:

  1. Give yourself time. Any difficult period in your life needs time to heal. Be patient with yourself and what you are feeling. Anxiety is normal for everyone.
  2. Talk to someone about the accident. It may be a friend, family member or someone you feel comfortable with. Just talking about your experiences, getting information about anxiety and meeting any practical needs is often all that is required to help you manage your anxiety.
  3. Look after yourself. When people feel anxious they often neglect themselves. Eat balanced meals and try to get plenty of sleep. Do some exercise, like going for a walk. Avoid increasing the amount of alcohol you drink and avoid drugs that have not been prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Take some time for yourself and do a hobby or other enjoyable activity.

WHEN TO SEEK HELP

You should seek medical advice if your symptoms:

  • Are worrying you.
  • Are preventing you from doing your normal activities.
  • Have lasted longer than three months after the accident.
  • Are causing your friends and/or relatives to be worried about you.

If your symptoms don’t ease after 3 months, or if your symptoms are severe enough to stop you living your normal life, then you have may an anxiety disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most people who are involved in a road crash won’t develop an anxiety disorder. If you do, you may experience extreme anxiety and disturbing irrational thoughts and fears. Every part of your life suffers and you seem overpowered by the experience of the crash.

Some people may:

  • Have flashbacks to the accident.
  • Dream about the accident.
  • Become distressed when exposed to reminders of the accident.
  • Feel like they are continually in a daze.
  • Be out of touch with the world or feel that their life does not seem real.
  • Avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the accident even when they may be beneficial.
  • Feel guilty about the crash.
  • Problems getting back in the car.

Dr. Matthews says that necessity will get most people back into a motor vehicle, but some people might experience difficulty.

“The general principle is, where there’s fear of something then it’s good to take it in small steps,” she says. “Make sure you have people with you to offer support, and take it slowly.”

TREATMENT AND SUPPORT

It’s important to know that, with the right treatment and support, you can recover from an anxiety disorder. Your Primary doctor is the best person to speak to first. Other health practitioners, like psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatrists, can help to treat anxiety disorders.

WHERE TO GET HELP

The following organizations and websites provide information on getting treatment for anxiety and help with driving anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America  www.adaa.org

National Center for PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia

http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/geared/your_driving_skills/car_crashes/after_the_crash.html

 

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in vehicle accidents across the country. The different injuries resulting from a car accident can be as varied as the individual circumstances of each collision, but there are some types of injuries that are more common than others.

Some car accident injuries may resolve within a matter of days without any medical treatment at all. More serious injuries might become permanent and result in some level of physical disability.

According to NOLO.com, the type and severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car accident depend on factors that include:

  • Was the person wearing a seat belt?
  • Did the person’s car get hit from the rear, side or front?
  • Was the occupant facing straight ahead in the seat? Or was the person’s head or body turned in a certain direction?
  • Was it a low-speed collision or a high-speed crash?
  • Did the car have airbags?

There are two broad categories of injuries caused by car accidents: (1) impact injuries, and (2) penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are typically caused when part of the person’s body hits some part of the interior of the car. Often this can be a knee hitting a dashboard or the head hitting the seat rest or the side window. Penetrating injuries are typically cuts and scrapes. Shattering glass or loose objects flying inside the car on impact often cause these types of injuries.

Soft Tissue Injuries and Car Accidents

A soft tissue injury is damage to the body’s connective tissue, which means muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is the most common type of injury resulting from a car accident. Soft tissue injuries can take many forms.

A “whiplash” type injury to the neck and upper back is a form of soft tissue injury. In that type of injury, the muscles and ligaments are stretched due to sudden movements imposed on the head and neck in the collision. These same mechanisms and forces can cause soft tissue injuries in other areas of the body such as the back. Car accidents often cause mid-back and low-back muscle sprains, and sometimes cause more serious back injuries because of the impact force against the spine.

Scrapes and Cuts

In a car collision, any loose objects inside the car immediately become projectiles thrown about the car’s interior. This includes cell phones, coffee mugs, eyeglasses, purses, books, dash-mounted GPS systems, etc. If any of these items hit your body, they can easily cut your skin or cause other injury.

Sometimes these scrapes and cuts are relatively minor and require no medical treatment. More serious injuries can result in loss of blood, and may require stitches.

Cuts or scrapes can also result if your airbag deploys in the collision.

Head Injuries and Car Accidents

Head injuries can take a number of forms, some relatively minor and others quite severe. A car’s unexpected stop or change in direction often causes the heads of the car occupants to experience sudden and unnatural movements. This can cause muscle strains in the neck and back (as discussed above). But the head itself can also be injured. Impact with a side window or steering wheel can cause scrapes and bruising to the head, or even deeper lacerations. More severe collision impacts can cause a closed head injury. In that situation, the fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged because of the sudden movement or impact of the head. Less severe closed head injuries often result in concussions, while the most severe impacts can cause brain damage.

Chest Injuries

Chest injuries are also a common result of a car accident. These injuries typically take the form of contusions or bruises, but can be more severe, such as broken ribs or internal injuries. Drivers often experience chest injuries because of their position behind the steering wheel, which allows very little freedom of movement before the chest collides with the steering wheel. If a person’s body is thrown forward in a collision, even though it might not impact the steering wheel or dashboard, the chest area will still experience a high level of force against the shoulder harness or seat belt, which can cause severe bruising.

Arm and Leg Injuries

The same forces that unexpectedly throw a person’s head about in car collisions act similarly on arms and legs. If your car suffers a side impact, your arms and legs might be thrown hard against the door. While positioned as a passenger in a car, your legs typically have very little room for movement. Car accidents often cause an occupant’s knees to hit the dashboard or seats in front of them. Depending on the nature of the collision, injuries to your arms and legs might be mere bruises or scrapes, but sprains and even breaks can occur.

Keep in mind that some injuries are not readily apparent following a car accident. Depending on the nature of the injury, it may take days, weeks, or even months for symptoms to appear. So, if you are in a car accident, it is best to seek medical treatment for even the slightest discomfort or early indication of injury.

Since we don’t look like “Graham” (at least I hope you don’t!), drive safely out there friends!