Page Updated: September 16, 2021
Physical Therapy After Car Accident
If you have been in an accident, you may very well need physical therapy.
What you may not know is what this will entail, how it can affect your legal settlements, or if your case even needs physical therapy.
In this article you will find information on:
♦ Car accidents and their relation to physical therapy
♦ What to expect in physical therapy sessions
♦ Why people get physical therapy after car accidents
♦ Car accident physical therapy settlement factors
If you need more info on physical therapy and your accident, keep reading.
Clickable Table of Contents
General Settlement Information
10 – About the Author
Car Accident Injuries & Physical Therapy
Every year 20-50 million people are injured or disabled due to vehicle accidents.
These accidents do more than the immediate damage, they result in chronic pain, stiffness, immobility and decreased range of motion.
Physical therapy helps with many with their damages and pain, improving recovery times and preventing long-term damage.
This therapy helps to increase flexibility, improves range of motion, and restores strength and functions after accidental injuries.
Because of this, physical therapy tends to be one of the most common treatment plans given to an individual after an accident.
If you are in any level of an accident, be it minor or major, it is more than likely that you will be given some period of physical therapy for your recovery.
This does not mean that physical therapy itself is easy or a walk in the part.
Physical therapy is a time-intensive, and often painful process that requires weeks if not months or years of appointments to help avoid permanent damage and injury.
What Will Physical Therapy Entail?
Types of Physical Therapy After Car Accident
Physical therapy has many possible treatments which include manual therapies and machine assisted therapies.
Common manual therapies include hands-on techniques like light pumping exercises and micro-current which are often used in muscle sprains, whiplash and soft tissue injuries.
The first step in any physical therapy program will be a one on one assessment with a therapist.
There will be differences in therapy based on the severity of your injury, how many body parts are hurt and how serious your case is.
Factors that affect your physical therapy plan will be:
♦ Severity of accident
♦ Type of injury
♦ Previous injuries
♦ Your Age
Recovery With Physical Therapy After Car Accident
This first step of getting an assessment is then followed with a treatment plan that lays out the details of what is believed will help your situation.
Many cases have an average recovery time of 3-6 weeks for less severe cases, while more serious ones can average anywhere from 3-9 months of intensive physical therapy.
While it may be a long and costly process, physical therapy has many benefits for both your physical health and your ultimate settlement as well.
Physical therapy is the best option you have of avoiding long-term damage after an accident.
This is done by enhancing strength, endurance, and mobility during the physical therapy sessions.
Additionally, being physically active following a car accident will also help to relieve discomfort and to heal from injuries much faster than bed rest alone in most cases.
Movement pumps the injury site with oxygenated blood and other nutrients, which allows the body to repair itself.
In some cases, physical therapy can even help to avoid more serious treatments, like surgery by helping to strengthen muscles in a supportive and efficient manner.
Even cases of surgery will have post-surgery treatment plans which include rehabilitative physical therapy.
Will I Need Physical Therapy After A Car Accident?
The answer to this is more than likely, yes.
The answer is yes because physical therapy helps to support physical healing in most accident cases.
Not only that, but car accident physical therapy settlements are higher because it shows both severity of an accident, as well as that an accident was treated seriously.
Most patients also do not know the seriousness of their injuries associated with car crashes until they return to their usual everyday activities.
Usually, common injuries include discomfort, stiffness, decreased movement capacity, and chronic headaches or migraines take time to present, and physical therapy can help with managing this.
If you have been told you need physical therapy, but feel that your injury is not that serious, it is best to listen to your medical care provider and go to the therapy.
Not all of our injuries tend to present themselves to us right away. Many injuries like neck injuries, take time to show up. Even if you do not feel like you need physical therapy, you probably do need it, and you should make an effort to go to all of your physical therapy appointments.
Some injuries are almost guaranteed to come with a treatment plan that includes physical therapy in some format. Some of these injuries and symptoms which necessitate physical therapy are:
♦ Back and Spinal Injuries
♦ Numbness/Tingling and Weakness
♦ Dizziness/ Balance Issues
♦ Multiple Bone Fractures
♦ Being of older age
This is not an exhaustive list, but just some of the more common auto injuries that end up necessitating physical therapy.
Your symptoms, circumstances or injury may not be listed here, this does not mean you will not need physical therapy.
Car accident Physical Therapy Settlement Insights
Physical Therapy Helps a Car Accident Settlement
Physical therapy and car accident settlements tend to go hand in hand.
Physical therapy is a time intensive and costly endeavor.
You can expect weeks or months of therapy, and to see a therapist anywhere from 3-5 times a week. The cost of these sessions can vary from location to location and therapist to therapist, but averages $50-$150 per session.
Some therapy sessions can go as high as $150 for just 15 minute sessions!
Needless to say, physical therapy adds up in cost. Those physical therapy costs are recoverable as part of your settlement, which increases the value of your claim.
Physical Therapy Increases Car Accident Settlement Amounts
What is obvious is that physical therapy is both time intensive and bottom line intensive as well.
While it is expensive, and time consuming, going to physical therapy after a car accident can help increase your settlement exponentially.
Juries who see that an individual was given a treatment plan with physical therapy know that the person who was in the accident has an injury serious enough to need extensive medical care.
Car accident settlements after physical therapy therefore tend to be higher because of this fact.
However, it is important for the injured person to go to all of their physical therapy appointments.
If the injured person does not attend all of physical therapy sessions, misses appointments or does not follow doctor’s recommendations, this gives the insurance company ammunition to argue the seriousness of his injuries and the need for therapy.
That is called mitigation of damages, and it can really hurt your settlement regardless of how many physical therapy sessions you did attend and did not miss.
How Physical Therapy Impacts Your Settlement Value
Put simply, physical therapy after a car accident helps to increase your settlement value.
Car accident physical therapy settlement values tend to be higher because the jury sees that you sought medical help, that you were given a treatment plan with physical therapy, and that you made an effort to go to these sessions.
The total picture that this helps to create is one that proves in essence that you really were injured badly and need help.
If you go to these appointments, you will also have weeks and months of additional documentation and proof of your injury because all of your sessions and progress will be recorded.
There will be more than just compensation given to you for your therapy costs, there will also be consideration of the impact this has on your time, on your life, and this translates into pain and suffering settlement values being higher as well.
Your physical therapy settlement also considers how painful the sessions themselves were, and that ties into your pain and suffering.
All in all, physical therapy helps to ensure that you get treatment for your injuries that can save you a lifetime of immobility and chronic pain, and also help you secure a higher settlement value.
Sample Verdicts & Settlements
SAMPLE SETTLEMENT (Alabama): $6,167.97. Plaintiff was driving southbound on a local road when her car was rear ended by another vehicle that has lost control of their vehicle. Plaintiff suffered multiple bruises and lacerations which also gave her trauma to the feet and ankles. Injuries caused there to be the need for physical therapy and CAT scans. Plaintiff was awarded a settlement to compensate for the injury and needed medical care.
SAMPLE VERDICT (Florida): $19,424.00 An adult male passenger was in a car driving on a highway when the vehicle lost control and slammed into a barrier. The plaintiff suffered multiple injuries including a sprained shoulder and sprained back. Follow-up medical included weeks of physical therapy as well as bouts of bed rest. Case resulted in a verdict of $25,000 which was reduced down to $19,424 by a jury whi reduced the amount due to a prior payment.
SAMPLE VERDICT/ SETTLEMENT (Indiana): $26,450.50 An insured male driver was driving east on a street in downtown Indianapolis with his young son while intoxicated. The driver went down a one-way street by accident and then went through an intersection when he hit the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff suffered a twisted knee and pulled muscles in the legs and hip. The injuries called for steroid injections as well as months of physical therapy.
SAMPLE VERDICT (Florida): $34,584.00 Plaintiff was struck by an underinsured driver who was driving recklessly and hit her car at a red light while she was stopped. Plaintiff suffered herniated discs which led to neck and head pain. Insurance company argued that previous injuries were responsible for the injuries and the extensive physical therapy and treatment that was prescribed was not a result of the current injury. Jury awarded the verdict after the plaintiff sued the underinsured motorist and their insurance company.
Physical Therapy Q&A
My doctor said I should go to physical therapy; how important is it that I go?
If your doctor has asked you to go to physical therapy, it is of the utmost importance that you not only go, but that you make sure you attend every single session. Doing so, will make sure that your settlement values are as high as possible.
How long does physical therapy tend to last?
Physical therapy tends to last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. On the lower end, it ranges from 3 weeks to 6 weeks, while on the higher end it can range from 3 months to 9 months. The exact length of your physical therapy will depend on your injury and your specific needs.
What happens if I miss some of my physical therapy sessions?
If you miss some of your sessions for physical therapy, it is very likely that this will be used against you by the insurance company. This will then result in your claim being denied or lowered. It is not advisable to miss your physical therapy sessions.
What will my car accident settlement be after physical therapy?
Your settlement after a car accident when you attend physical therapy is not a simple one size fits all number. Rather, this number will depend on your injuries. What physical therapy does is help to increase your settlement value.
What most affects car accident physical therapy settlements?
The biggest things that affect your car accident physical therapy settlements will be how much therapy you need, what your injuries are, and whether or not you attend all of your physical therapy sessions.
Are car accident settlements after physical therapy higher?
Yes, there is often a higher settlement value in car accident cases where there was physical therapy given as treatment and you make the effort to attend all of your sessions.
I don’t feel pain, why do I need physical therapy?
Yes, even if you do not feel pain, you need to go to physical therapy if your medical provider believes that this is the best course of action for you to take. Physical pain after a car accident often takes time, meaning that you are injured and you do need this therapy, but you cannot tell right away.
Get Help With Your Settlement
If you have been in an accident, you will need help and advice understanding how physical therapy will help your settlement.
Long before settlement is topic, you will need to select the right physical therapists, and do so in the correct way, or you will get impeached and cross-examined to the moon on this exact issue.
Citations for Supporting Literature & Resources:
Prendergast, S. A. (2017). Pelvic floor physical therapy for vulvodynia: a clinician’s guide. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics, 44(3), 509-522.
Vassiliou, T., Kaluza, G., Putzke, C., Wulf, H., & Schnabel, M. (2006). Physical therapy and active exercises–An adequate treatment for prevention of late whiplash syndrome?: Randomized controlled trial in 200 patients. Pain, 124(1-2), 69-76.
Ladeira, C. E. (2011). Evidence based practice guidelines for management of low back pain: physical therapy implications. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy, 15, 190-199.
Safer, V. B., Safer, U., & Kaya, L. (2016). An Unusual Os Trigonum Syndrome Case Secondary to Car Accident: A.”
Deutscher, D., Horn, S. D., Dickstein, R., Hart, D. L., Smout, R. J., Gutvirtz, M., & Ariel, I. (2009). Associations between treatment processes, patient characteristics, and outcomes in outpatient physical therapy practice. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 90(8), 1349-1363.
Escortell-Mayor, E., Riesgo-Fuertes, R., Garrido-Elustondo, S., Asúnsolo-del Barco, A., Díaz-Pulido, B., Blanco-Díaz, M., … & Group, T. T. (2011). Primary care randomized clinical trial: manual therapy effectiveness in comparison with TENS in patients with neck pain. Manual therapy, 16(1), 66-73.
Elkin, B. S., Elliott, J. M., & Siegmund, G. P. (2016). Whiplash injury or concussion? A possible biomechanical explanation for concussion symptoms in some individuals following a rear-end collision. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 46(10), 874-885.
Kristen Saviola, A. T. C. Cervical Stabilization Exercises in People with Neck Pain Following Concussion: A Case Series. ORTHOPAEDIC, 143.
Wand, B. M., O’Connell, N. E., Di Pietro, F., & Bulsara, M. (2011). Managing chronic nonspecific low back pain with a sensorimotor retraining approach: exploratory multiple-baseline study of 3 participants. Physical therapy, 91(4), 535-546.
Clair, D. A., Edmondston, S. J., & Allison, G. T. (2006). Physical therapy treatment dose for nontraumatic neck pain: A comparison between 2 patient groups. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 36(11), 867-875.
About the Author
Article Author: This law article was written by attorney Ramin Benyamin, Esquire. Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California. His law license number is #277263. He has been practicing law for ten years. Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Mr. Benyamin has helped his clients recover millions of dollars in car accident claims in the State of California.
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