immediate and obvious expenses—the loss of the trucks, ambulances and tow trucks, shutting said Gerald A. Sterns, a San Francisco Bay Area attorney.
“Not only do you have the immediate and obvious expenses—the loss of the car, use of police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and tow trucks, shutting down the highway, etc.,”said Gerald A. Sterns, a San Francisco Bay Area attorney. “But beyond that, think of the staggering loss where there is a fatality; in many cases a breadwin- ner, so that you have huge amounts adding up over the years for loss of support to a family. In cases involving paralysis [there is the] cost of wheelchairs, and in the ex- treme, home renovations.”
the fendeR BendeR Boggle
But say it’s not a serious crash that a person is involved in. It is instead a small fender bender that maybe breaks a headlight or nicks a bumper. Maybe the drivers in each car only experience minor whiplash and walk away from the scene feeling just fine…but little do they know, their future finances might be at risk.
According to Patricia A. Richard, M.D., D.M.D.—a doctor who specializes in the head, neck, ear and jaw areas—fender benders can have lasting affects on a per- son’s health, and a person’s bank account.
When whiplash occurs and a person’s neck is whipped back and forth, they can suffer from various internal injuries to the ja , neck and throat, and ear. More often than not, these injuries are not immediately noticed. Many times, it is not until years down the road that a driver involved in a fender bender feels the impact of whiplash, and it is usu- ally in the form of allergy symptoms or an ear ache.
Richard, both a dentist and a doctor of internal medi- cine, says she has seen far too many patients who come to her after years of seeing specialists for ear infections to no avail. They incur piles of bills only to have doctors tell them they don’t know where the pain is coming from or why. As it turns out, many patients who feel like they
perpetually have the nasal stuffiness associated with al- lergies, sore throat, a cold, etc. often damaged structures connecting the throat and ear when their necks did a two-second whip during a bumpy car ride years earlier.
According to Richard, this damage prevents the nor- mal drainage from the ear, and instead creates a build up that grows bacteria and causes painful ear infections, that only worsens over time. Similarly there could be damage to the ligaments between the jaw and ear, which increases the longer it goes untreated. So while a traf- fic crash has the medical bills typically associated with it, there are underlying costs that many people don’t see until many years, pains and expensive visits with spe- cialists down the road.
the PeoPle not in the CaR
It makes sense. People involved in traffic crashes—re- gardless of the severity—will see an expected decrease in the number of pennies stuffed in their piggy banks. However, surprisingly, people who just happen to be in proximity to the collision can see a dent in their wallet.
The TTI report on congestion demonstrates a lot of reasons why passersby might be affected by a traffic crash…since they are one of the leading causes of con- gestion on today’s very crowded roads.
“Just looking at the wreck on the side of the road… ”said Sterns, “[there are] gawking rubberneckers who tie up miles of traffic, even though the highway patrol has moved the wreck off the road and tries to wave drivers through.” Depending on the severity of the crash, the road block it causes and the resulting rubbernecking can cause tons of people to be late to work, late for a va- cation, late for a great number of things—all while wast- ing that very pricey fuel whose cost made them cringe as they hopped in their cars earlier that day.
Fall 2008 | MOVE 31