Dr. Michael Stultz, DC, Prescott Chiropractic and Rehab, came to be a doctor of chiropractic literally by accident. Having been an athlete his own life, Dr. Stultz suffered a serious back injury several years ago. After receiving chiropractic care for his injuries he decided to become a chiropractic doctor. He then made it his mission to share the same type of success he had experienced with his chiropractic treatments with others.

Dr. Stultz now owns and operates Prescott Chiropractic and Rehab, a full service chiropractic clinic in The Crossings Center in Prescott, Arizona. He specializes in treating those suffering from automobile related accidents and has dealt with many different types of injuries and accident situations. “Automobile accident and injury victims can be especially challenging. Often injuries do not show up for weeks or literal months after the accident occurred” explains Dr. Stultz.

Dr. Stultz recommends that you get a through medical diagnosis after an accident. This can be done at either a hospital or an urgent care facility. It is a critical step, he points out. Attorney Lawrence Lazzara of Parker and Lazzara, PLLC, in Chandler, Arizona, agreements. “If an accident victim does not desire a hospital visit then medical documentation from a competent health care provider will suffice.” This is important for medical expenses and addressing other hardships associated with an accident situation.

Dr. Stultz sat down with us to provide some important and practical tips on what to do when you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

Doctor Stultz, what is the first course of action someone should take if they are involved in an auto accident?

Dr. Stultz: The first course of action one should take is to assess the accident scene first and foremost. Who was involved? How many drivers? Were there multiple occupants in the car you hit or you were hit by? Whatever it is, you write this stuff down. It's a very stressful situation so the more information you write down the better the better it's going to be.

If a police officer does come to the scene a police report could be a very valuable tool. So you may want to have that police report written. You want to report this to your insurance company immediately. Get all the information you possibly can from every other party. If there is an injury that involves you or one of the passengers, you want seek medical attention immediately.

You have the right to treat yourself as you see fit. If you want to go to your primary doctor you can do that. If it's a serious injury and an ambulance wants to take you, that's definitely a plus if it's necessary.

I am not an attorney, but in my opinion there are things you want to say and do not want to say at an accident scene. Do not give an opinion to the police and do not take responsibility.

There are obviously things you do not want to do. You do not want to leave the scene. You want to assess the flaws to yourself and the other parties involved. Again, that's not legal advice it's my experience with handling these type of situations.

The more you can write down the more you're going to remember and understand what actually happened at that moment of impact. You can then convey that to whoever is going to treat you and who is going to be involved in helping you with the accident.

In your opinion, what is the most common misconception people have about auto accidents and seeking treatment?

Dr. Stultz: In my opinion, the type of injuries that can be sustained in a low impact collision. Many people do not realize that small, very low speed impacts can cause a significant amount of soft tissue damage. That's probably the biggest misconception.

Do you find that people come to you with after effects of an auto accident? In other words, do people come to you some time after the accident with latent injuries?

Dr. Stultz: A lot of people will say “OK, I'm feeling good at the time of the accident”, they get checked out and feel OK. Then a week passes, two weeks pass, a month passes, I've seen people as long as three months after an accident and they have never experienced any problems and all of the sudden they start to experience severe headaches.

In many cases a lot of time has passed since the accident occurred and they do not contribute that to the actual collision they were involved in. It's important to have an understanding that many injuries can arise weeks, days or months later. This is also a big misconception. It's very important to get checked fairly soon after an accident.

Can you diagnose these conditions before they become severe? Is this the reason people need to get examined early?

Dr. Stultz: In a lot of cases just by examining the patient you can see that there is a lot of underlying problems. When you use diagnostic tools such as X-Rays a lot of things will show up in the soft tissue and the hard tissue that will be indicative of a whiplash type injury or head or neck injury. Many of these things may be asymptomatic at the time but can cause problems later on.

If I came into your office with complaints of pain related to an auto injury what steps would you take to diagnose and treat my injury?

Dr. Stultz: In our office what we would do is a full orthopedic and neurological examination to rule out any serious injuries. In most cases following an accident, if there has been a collision and there's some significant damage to the autos involved you would want to take X-Rays to know exactly what you are dealing with. It's a good preventive diagnostic tool that can give you a lot of information. We'll fill out an accident questionnaire, we'll get a full health history because we want to know the history of what's going on with the individual.

We want to know whether they have had any past injuries or illnesses that may be contributing to what they're experiencing today. We are very through about determining what care and additional diagnostic tests that may be necessary.

Dr. Stultz, what do you feel differentiates your practice from others?

Dr. Stultz: I think primarily my experience. I have a lot of experience with these types of injuries. Being able to write a sound medical and legal report is a very essential thing for a case such as this.

You have to understand what goes into these type of injuries and the research that's out there. You have to be up to date on all of those things. I've done a lot of continuing education over the years when it comes to the biomechanics of an auto accident. I think this gives me an upper hand in understanding how these injuries can cause future problems if it's not deal with properly in the beginning.

That being said, we focus a lot on rehab of the spine. We do not just have a therapist or someone in the office that works on the patient. The doctor will be treating the patient every single visit. I think that's one the biggest things that separates us from other offices.

Thank you, Doctor Stultz, for taking the time today to give us some insight into how to deal with an auto accident.

Dr. Stultz: You're very welcome.

Dr. Michael Stultz, DC, Prescott Chiropratic and Rehab, runs a full service chiropractic practice located in Prescott, Arizona. He can be reached directly by calling 928-778-6200. His business website is prescottchiropraticaz.com.

Lawrence M. Lazzara Jr, Attorney at Law, Parker & Lazzara, PLLC, can be contacted at his Chandler, Arizona office by calling 480-456-3080. His business website is parkerandlazzara.com.

Kevin Nimmo is a writer and online media strategist. He interviews subject matter experts and educated his readers based on information provided by experts in their relevant fields. He is also Executive Editor of The Western Medical Journal.