Minor car accident cases are often relatively straightforward. Still, in an at-fault auto insurance state, the process can quickly become frustrating when the other driver or their insurance company does not cooperate. If you have trouble getting the compensation you need, you could sue the at-fault party and recover the losses you suffered. If you have questions or hit bumps in the road, it costs you nothing to reach out to a car accident lawyer for answers.
What Defines a Minor Car Accident?
There is a particular element of subjectivity when defining what is or isn't a minor car accident. However, an accident may be considered minor if the collision:
- Occurred at low speed with low impact
- Resulted in only minor damage to the vehicle, typically amounting to less the $1,000
- Involved only minor injuries or no injuries at all
- May not require the help of an attorney when pursuing compensation for damages
For example, if you coast to a stop in a parking lot where most vehicles travel at relatively low speed, and the driver behind you followed too closely and bumped into your car, the damage is likely minor, given the low speed and impact. However, that same accident may graduate to a major accident if the rear-end collision results in a whiplash injury.
Potential Injuries From a Minor Car Accident
Most damages from a car accident claim come from the injuries victims suffer. Minor car accident cases may only result in property damage, but even a low-speed collision at just the right impact position can cause significant injuries. Some examples of potential injuries from a minor car accident:
- Whiplash occurs when the force from the crash causes your head to project forward and backward aggressively, resulting in tiny micro tears in the soft tissue of the neck. It can vary in severity and affect you for years, causing pain and stiffness in the neck.
- Head injuries can result from forcefully hitting your head on the window or windshield, causing a concussion.
- Lower body injuries are common because the body's position in the car and the car's size may have little room to accommodate movement, causing you to bang against the dashboard, door, or steering wheel.
- Spinal cord injuries are dangerous and can occur even in low-impact collisions. An unnatural twist could cause significant damage.
If you suffered significant injuries in a seemingly minor car accident, you should still speak with an attorney about your case. Any of the above injuries could result in long-term medical care, and you want to ensure those costs are included in your claim.
Can You Claim Pain and Suffering for a Minor Car Accident?
The economic damages from a car accident include apparent financial losses, such as lost wages, medical bills, and property damage. However, you may also have access to non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, even following a minor accident. Pain and suffering refers to your physical and mental discomfort due to injuries. The value is often based on the severity of the injury and the extent of medical treatment. You can recover non-economic losses for the pain of recovery, but it can be challenging to prove in minor accidents. Consider talking to a car accident attorney about your injuries and their effect on your life to understand better if compensation for pain and suffering is available in your case.
What Should You Do in the Aftermath of a Car Accident?
Immediately following an accident, you can take certain steps to preserve evidence and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Those steps include:
- Report the accident to the police. Some states do not require you to report an accident under minor circumstances. For example, California law says you do not need to register a collision if no one suffered an injury or died and the damage to the vehicle amounted to less than $1,000. However, you can still call the non-emergency number and request an officer. In some jurisdictions, the station may not dispatch one for a minor crash, but you can still file a report online or go to the station to file.
- Take photographs of everything. Use your smartphone to take pictures of both vehicles while still in the after-crash positions and include images of the damage to both cars. Other elements to document include visible injuries on your body and road features, such as intersections, traffic lights, and road signs. If you can, take the time to record a video of the scene and narrate what happened.
- Gather information. Ask the other driver for their name and contact information. You can also request to take a photograph of their insurance card and driver's license. Then ask eyewitnesses for their contact information as well. If you see any nearby homes or businesses with outdoor security cameras, you can request to see the footage.
- Seek a medical evaluation. Minor accidents can result in major injuries, but even if you feel fine in the immediate aftermath, you may have an injury with latent symptoms. For example, whiplash may not affect your right away. However, allowing a doctor to evaluate and treat you puts your injuries on an official record and ensures you get the treatment you need.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. Most insurance companies have policy language that requires you to report an accident even if you are not at fault. Additionally, you will need to report the accident and the evidence you collected to the other party's insurance company to get compensation for your losses.
Time is an essential consideration for car accident cases. The longer you wait to file a claim or see a doctor, the more opportunity you provide the insurance company to question the source of your injuries or property damage. For that reason, contacting a car accident lawyer could help you collect the needed evidence and begin building your case immediately.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Attorney?
Personal injury attorneys help car accident victims every day, with the vast majority of cases involving severe accidents resulting in substantial injuries. However, that does not mean you cannot seek help from a legal professional following a minor accident. As previously discussed, even a minor accident can cause serious bodily harm, including injuries with long-term consequences. Other reasons you might seek legal representation include disputes over who is liable for the collision and difficulty with the claims process or getting the insurance company to pay fair compensation. If you are still unsure whether you should reach out to a car accident attorney, remember you have nothing to lose. They typically offer free consultations and even work on contingency, meaning they will charge no upfront fees to take on your case.
At Johnson Attorneys Group, our team of car accident attorneys has experience helping victims of accidents ranging in severity. We can answer your questions and help you make the right legal choice. Contact us today at (800) 208-3538 or complete an online form to schedule your free case evaluation and speak directly with an experienced attorney eager to help you get the compensation you deserve. Should we decide to take on your case, we only receive payment for our fees when you receive a settlement or award for your losses.