Rehabilitation Therapy After a Car Accident

For anyone, a car accident is a traumatic event. Unfortunately, a car accident can cause serious injury or even death, and many do. In 2018, there were 39,598 accidents leading to hospitalisation in Australia. In 2021, there were 1,121 car crash fatalities nationwide.

Unsurprisingly, many people involved in a road traffic accident need immediate medical attention. But after a car accident, therapy and ongoing rehabilitation are often also a necessary part of the healing process.

Can I Claim The Cost of Rehabilitation Therapy After a Car Accident?

While it's hard to give a definitive answer, it is certainly a possibility. Generally, the costs you can be compensated for include:
- Medical expenses, including fees for doctors and specialists, hospitalisation costs, and medicines
- Ongoing medical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation
- Travel costs for attending medical or therapy appointments
- Lost earnings like wages or self-employment income
- An additional amount for pain and suffering, called 'general damages', which is set by law

Personal injury cases are sometimes complex and specialist advice can really help in determining what you're entitled to. Talk with an experienced car accident lawyer for more information.

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Common Forms Of Rehab Therapy For Injuries
From a Car Accident

The common forms of therapy utilised when a person is injured in a car accident include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological treatment.

Physiotherapy or Physical Therapy
Seeing a physical therapist can be a vital part of you recovery. Physical therapy can help to:
- alleviate or reduce pain symptoms
- improve joint mobilization and strength
- prevent your condition getting worse

The use of physical therapy is generally recommended where an accident impacts on movement. Physcial therapists focus on improving "movement, mobility and function".

The treatment regime developed by a physical therapist might include:

- Massage and stretching to manage pain and help reduce inflammation
- Exercises designed specifically to help your recovery - for example, postural training can help to treat whiplash
- Ultrasound treatment

Physical therapists are trained to recognise and utilise those techniques that will be beneficial to help their patients recover.
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Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy, or OT, differs from physical therapy in that it focuses on helping people recover sufficiently to participate in their normal daily activities. However, it is similar in some respects. An occupational therapist, like a physical therapist, can help you manage pain symptoms and aid in their healing and recovery.

Like physical therapists, OTs utilise techniques that are best suited to help with their patients' particular symptoms. This can include:

- Teaching life skills - depending on the severity of the impairments, this can include eating, getting dressed or bathing
- Working on fine motor skills
- Training in exercises to help manage pain
- Teaching strategies to deal with stress
Mental Health Care
As well as seeing an occupational and/or physical therapist, seeing a phychologist or psychiatrist to deal with mental health issues may be an important part of your recovery. Mental health care providers may utilise talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy. Some can prescribe medication like anti-depressants if they are needed to help you cope.

Most people will have feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, or depression immediately following a car accident. You would usually see a therapist if your symptoms last more than a few weeks, or any of the following apply:

- You feel a sense of social isolation, or that you have no-one to talk to
- Symptoms affect your work or study
- You have difficulty performing tasks or engaging in normal daily activities
- Someone close to you notices changes in your personality
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Which Forms of Car Accident Injuries Usually Require Therapy?
People injured in the following ways are particularly likely to benefit from undergoing physical therapy or receiving mental health support.
Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) involve damage to the bones or connective tissues in the body, like ligaments and tendons. Depending on the severity, an MSI may require surgery and impact your physical capability for some time. People suffering MSIs often display the following symptoms:
- pain
- swelling and bruising
- difficulty moving, or an impaired range of movement

Broken bones are a type of MSI, and ones that result from a car accident can be particularly serious. Sprains, tears, and complete ruptures of tendons and ligaments can also result from a motor vehicle accident. They may require surgery and a significant period of rehabilitation.

A very common example that results from car accidents is whiplash. Whiplash occurs due to the forces in a motor vehicle accident suddenly moving the head forwards, backwards or sideways.
This causes damage to the structures in the neck, including muscles, ligaments and tendons. Symptoms include neck pain, swelling and bruising. As discussed above, physical therapy exercises and postural training can assist to alleviate pain and other symptoms.
Spinal Injuries
An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Reportfound that in 2017-2018, the most common cause of traumatic spinal injuries was a land transport crash, such as a road accident. Spinal injuries can result in paralysis, meaning the loss of the ability to move part of the body.

A person who has suffered a spinal injury may also display the following symptoms:
- Extreme back or neck pain
- Tingling or numbness in the limbs
- Weakness or lack of coordination in part of the body

Psychological Impacts
Most people involved in traumatic events will have strong feelings and other emotional reactions in the weeks and months following that trauma. This can include difficulty sleeping, restlessness and irritability, problems with concentration, and feeling stress and sadness.
Some common psychological after  effects of a traumatic event, like a natural disaster or serious car accident, persist over a longer time. These include post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression.
Who Covers The Cost of Rehabilitation After a Car Accident?
This will depend on the circumstances of the accident.

For an non-work-related traffic accident, medical costs, including rehabilitation, will usually be met by the compulsory third party (CTP) insurer of the other driver, if they were at fault. If you cause the accident, the costs may be met by your insurer, depnding on the terms of your policy.
In some cases, the other driver is at fault but does not have the required insurance, or they cannot be identified, for example, because they left the accident scene. In these cases, there is an organisation called the Nominal Defendant  which meets the costs.
If you are injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident that occurs you may have a right to claim through WorkCover or a self-insurer. The law says that a worker can make a statutory or WorkCover claim if the injury arises out of, or in the course of, their employment and the employment is a 'significant contributing factor' to the injury.
In addition to medical and rehabilitation costs, a successful WorkCover claim can include a lump sum payment if you are permanently impaired.

If you are suffer a permanent disability from a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to make a claim on your TPD insurance. TPD, or total and permanent disability, insurance is often included as part of your superannuation. Your policy will specify the amount you are entitled to.
How Long After an Accident Can You Claim Injury?
There are strict time limits to make personal injury claims, whether you make a statutory (WorkCover) or Common Law claim.
WorkCover Claims
Generally, you can make a WorkCover claim if the car accident occurred at work, or travelling to or from work, or if you suffered an in the course of performing your work duties.

A claim must be made to WorkCover or a self-insurer within 6 months from when the accident occurred, or when your injury is first linked to your workplace duties by a doctor.
Common-Law Claims
Most motor vehicle accident claims will usually be based on a claim of negligence. Very basically, a negligence claim is available when a person or organisation:

- Owes you a legal duty to care for your safety and wellbeing
- Fails to do so to a reasonable standard, and
- You suffer injury as a result.

There are also strict time limits for negligence claims. Generally, you are required to commence a claim with the court within 3 years. Before lodging the claim there may be certain steps you must take under the law to notify the person you are claiming against that you intend to make a claim.

These time limits can be relatively straightforward to work out for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, as the time will be counted from the date the accident occurred. However, some injuries, including psychological ones, only show up a considerable time after an incident.

If you have been in a car accident in which you were injured, it would be worth seeking legal advice on your situation and your rights.
Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim
If you suffer injuries while at work, you don't have to worry about the whole process of making your claim or the legal fees involved. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer free consultation services for injured workers looking to kickstart their claims. As mentioned before, we also have a no-win no fee, no catch policy.
Get in touch with us to give yourself the best opportunity to receive the maximum compensation possible for your claim.
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