- Low-impact car accidents can still result in injuries, although the insurance company may try to avoid paying a fair settlement.
- Even in minor car accidents, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
- Depending on the severity of your injuries or the type of collision, you may not need an attorney to receive a fair settlement. But, it also never hurts to contact a personal injury law firm just to be sure. Many lawyers offer a free consultation and may be able to advise you about how to handle the case yourself or may be able to refer you to a law firm that specializes in small cases.
- In some cases what may seem to be only a small case could become larger. For example, if the injury is more severe than originally thought or if an investigation of the accident reveals that the at-fault driver was intoxicated or violating a trucking regulation.
- Before accepting any compensation offers from an insurance carrier, it is usually wise to discuss it with a car accident lawyer who can help ensure the insurance company covers the full costs of your damages.
Fortunately, the amount of damage to your vehicle is not the only thing that affects whether the at fault driver or his or her insurance company may owe damages. In some minor-impact cases, especially rear-end collisions, the car that hit you from behind often has more damage to its front bumper or hood than the rear of your car or truck. We recommend taking photos of both vehicles at the accident scene.
Additionally, people are not cars. Cars are constructed out of metal, plastic and rubber and are designed to withstand impact without damage — up to a point. Imagine you are seated in an office chair and someone or something suddenly strikes the back of the chair, propelling you forward onto the floor. The chair might not be damaged at all, while you sustain a serious injury. Do you think it would be fair for an insurance company to claim that because your chair was not damaged you could not be hurt? We don’t think so either.
Common Types of Injuries Experienced in Low Impact Car Accidents
Even in low-impact or minor car accidents, a range of injuries can occur. Here are some of the most common injuries associated with these types of collisions:
- Whiplash: A soft tissue neck injury due to a sudden jerking or “whipping” of the head.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Sprains, strains, or contusions affecting muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Cuts and Scrapes: Often resulting from broken glass or impact with objects inside the vehicle.
- Bruising: Especially from the seat belt or impact against the car’s interior.
- Concussions: A type of traumatic brain injury caused by the sudden movement or impact of the head.
- Jaw Injuries or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain: Especially in side-impact collisions.
- Chest Injuries: Typically from the seat belt restraining during the accident.
- Wrist or Hand Injuries: Often occurring if a person braces for impact on the dashboard or steering wheel.
- Back Pain: Can be due to muscle strains, ligament sprains, or even herniated discs.
Treatment for Minor Injuries in Low Impact Car Accidents Adds Up
Experiencing a minor injury in a car crash might seem financially inconsequential at first. Yet, in the U.S., even minor healthcare interventions can be notably pricey. A simple fender bender causing minor back pain can lead to multiple, costly medical doctor or chiropractor sessions, while a single emergency room visit may range from $500 to $1,000. Visits to urgent care or a family doctor can further escalate medical expenses. Moreover, what might appear as a minor injury initially can evolve into chronic conditions like neck, back, or shoulder pain, as well as persistent headaches. It’s essential to recognize that even minor car accident-related injuries can qualify for compensation.
The Challenges That Come With Low Impact Car Accident Claims
Did you gather the at-fault driver’s details, including their insurance information? Many victims overlook this step in minor accidents. However, this omission can complicate the claim process. It’s essential to know precisely who caused the accident and how to contact their insurance company.
Did you state at the accident scene that you felt fine and believed you weren’t injured? Many people say this, especially after minor collisions because we instinctively say, “I’m ok” to the police officer or the at-fault driver after an impact – even when we are not. We do not encourage anyone to be dishonest about their condition after a crash, but it is often a bad idea to say “I’m OK” when you are not, just to be “nice” or polite.
Did you neglect to call the police? Police reports can serve as valuable evidence. For minor accidents, police might not be summoned, or they might arrive much later. If there is no police report or you leave the scene before the police arrive, it can make proving your case more difficult.
Did you undergo a medical examination or physical after the accident? Delaying medical attention can complicate claims for compensation, as the defense could argue that the injury wasn’t directly caused by the accident.
Did you sustain no injuries? Insurance companies typically cover the exact cost of vehicle damage. Without injuries, there’s likely no case, as all expenses have been addressed. If you’re pursuing a legal claim to contest liability, your insurance company can assist you.
Is there no visible damage to the vehicle? It becomes difficult to assert that an injury resulted from a car accident when the vehicle shows no signs of harm. Demonstrable vehicle damage often supports claims of injury due to an accident. Without any damage or injuries, a case is unlikely. If your car has minimal (or no damage), does the car that hit you have damage? If so, take pictures of the other car or truck or request them from the insurance company.
Streamlining The Car Accident Legal Process
To increase your chances of fair compensation in a legal claim for a minor accident, consider the following:
- Gather the Other Driver’s Details: Obtain the other driver’s information, especially their auto insurance details. Use your smartphone to capture clear photos of relevant documents. If you don’t have a smartphone on hand, ensure you use other means to document this critical information.
- Refrain from Admitting Fault: Avoid making admissions or acknowledging any mistakes at the accident scene. Before making any statements, even if the other driver is clearly at fault, consult with a car accident lawyer.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Prioritize getting a medical check-up to document any injuries, even if they seem negligible. Injuries may not always be immediately apparent, so it’s essential to have a record.
- Engage the Police: Acquiring an official report from law enforcement can fortify your claim, especially if you’re not at fault.
- Document the Damage: Take clear photos of the vehicle’s damage, as these visuals can effectively illustrate the accident’s circumstances and its impact.
What Else to Watch Out For With Minor, Small or Low Impact Car Accidents
Damage May Not Present Itself Immediately
In some cases, the full extent of damage caused by an accident is not immediately apparent. Some injuries, such as internal damage, may not be visible, while other injuries, like whiplash, may take time for the full pain to kick in. It is important to document what you experience and seek medical attention immediately, if necessary.
These “silent car accident injuries” may not appear to be serious initially but can be harmful to accident victims over time.
At-Fault Drivers May Be More Likely to Lie in Smaller Car Accidents
Police do not always respond to minor accidents if no injuries are reported and traffic isn’t obstructed. When they do, a thorough investigation into minor crashes is rare; officers usually gather statements and create a police report. Similarly, due to cost concerns, insurance companies might only superficially investigate minor claims, leading to approvals without comprehensive research. Such limited scrutiny increases the chance of at-fault drivers lying or even denying the incident. This deceit can cause victims to incur higher insurance rates, traffic tickets, car repair bills, and alternative transportation costs. Therefore, it’s crucial to have knowledgeable counsel to ensure rightful compensation isn’t jeopardized by another driver’s dishonesty.
Insurance Companies Can Be Difficult to Work With
Insurance companies prioritize their profits, often seeking ways to minimize payouts. In Georgia, the comparative fault system can reduce your compensation based on your share of blame. For instance, if you’re deemed 20% at fault, your potential compensation drops by that percentage. Insurance firms might delay communication or propose undervalued settlements, not accounting for potential medical expenses that might emerge over time. It’s advisable to consult a personal injury attorney before accepting any offer to ensure you’re adequately compensated.
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Yes, you can pursue a legal claim. However, certain criteria must be met, such as you not being at fault, the other driver having auto insurance, and the presence of injuries resulting from the accident.
Yes, if an accident leaves your vehicle unusable and you need alternate transportation, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover these expenses.
Any costs incurred either directly or indirectly because of the accident should be documented and presented to your adjuster or car injury attorney.
The other insurance company will pay for medical expenses once it’s proven that the other driver was at fault and an agreement to settle has been reached.