For those who have been in a car accident, there may be physical injuries and emotional trauma, but then there is also the stress of navigating medical forms, insurance claims and legal issues.
But there is help out there, in the form of a new book by Dr. Lawrence Matrick, who performs independent psychiatric evaluations on behalf of lawyers and insurance companies representing accident victims.
Matrick's guide, Road to Recovery: Following your Motor Vehicle Accident, aims to help people deal with the aftermath of a car accident.
"While I was seeing all these people for so many years, I observed that they're not only dealing with their orthopaedic and medical injuries and the psychiatric disorders that follow, but also the stress of dealing with this long process," Dr. Matrick told B.C. Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.
"So I thought I'd write a book to guide them on this long, stressful, disabling journey...[although] I hope nobody has to use the book really, because it's a terrible tragedy to go through, and it's a long process too."
Here is some of Dr. Matrick's advice for what to do following a motor vehicle accident (after first calling the police if it's a serious incident, he says).
1. See your family doctor
"See your family physician as quickly as possible, that day or the next day," Dr. Matrick said, adding that a person's doctor can also refer them to counselling if that is necessary.
2. Call your insurance company
"Call your insurance company to talk to the assessor there and fill out the necessary forms," says Dr. Matrick.
3. Get legal advice if necessary
"Depending on your injury, depending on what your physician tells you, depending on what your insurance company tells you, it may be a very long complicated process for you to deal with, and you may want to talk to a lawyer and get some good legal advice."
Dr. Matrick said there are lawyers that focus specifically in the area of motor vehicle accidents.
"A lot of legal firms will give you some time — without any cost to you — to help you decide on what's next, and what's best for you legally."
4. Keep documentation
Dr. Matrick suggested having documentation in order before going to speak to a lawyer.
"Make sure you have all the forms with you, make sure you have all the details as to what the emergency doctor said to you, what your own physician said to you, make careful notes, get copies from the physician or emergency department, [and] from the insurance company, so you have those notes and those records with you to take to the lawyer."
5. Go to a pain disorder clinic if necessary
Dr. Matrick says if you are really struggling with pain, and want to avoid developing an addiction to medication, a pain disorder clinic may help, and a physician or lawyer can refer you to one.
"There are many [pain disorder clinics] in the Lower Mainland and throughout B.C who will help you — with therapists, and counsellors, and psychiatrists and medical doctors — who are very knowledgeable about the kind of medication that is helpful for those chronic pain conditions."
To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: New book from Vancouver psychiatrist explains what to do following a car accident