If your car was hit by a semi-truck, you wouldn’t think twice about calling an injury lawyer. Trucking accidents usually cause serious injuries and severe property damage. You’d probably call an Alabama accident lawyer right away.
But if you get into a minor car accident or “fender bender,” you might wonder if you should call a Birmingham accident lawyer. This post will explain why it’s a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer after a minor car accident.
What’s the difference between a serious car accident and a “minor” car accident?
First of all, every car accident is serious to the person who is involved in it. No one wants to deal with the financial or emotional stress of a car accident. Every injured person deserves to be treated with respect.
Nevertheless, minor and serious car accidents tend to present certain characteristics. Here are some of the factors that appear in each type of accident.
Generally, in serious car accidents,
- Impact occurs at high speed,
- Multiple vehicles are involved,
- Large vehicles, buses, or semi-trucks are present,
- Airbags deploy,
- There are multiple points of impact (e.g. both front and rear),
- Vehicles are severely damaged or totaled, and
- Injuries are immediately obvious.
By contrast, in less serious car accidents,
- Impact occurs at low speed,
- Usually just two vehicles are involved,
- Only passenger vehicles (e.g. sedans) are present,
- Airbags do not deploy,
- The car is hit in just one area (e.g. front end or rear end),
- Vehicles can be driven away from the scene, and
- Injuries appear slowly over time.
What should I do after a fender bender accident?
Generally, the steps you should take at the accident scene after a fender bender are the same as those you should take after a serious car accident.
First, call the police. A police report can help your Birmingham accident lawyer later. Second, take pictures of the accident scene, including the road and any traffic signs or signals. (Don’t forget to take pictures of the sky for proof of weather conditions.) Finally, get the names and numbers of any witnesses to the car accident.
Should I see a doctor after a minor car accident?
Yes. Minor accidents can cause serious injuries. You might feel “fine” after your accident. Go to the doctor anyway. Injuries from a car accident may take several days or even weeks to appear. (Ironically, swelling from the accident can hide injuries for several days or more.) So, even if you don’t have any visible injuries, seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. If you wait, the other driver might claim that your injuries really weren’t that serious.
What types of injuries can happen in minor accidents?
Again, even low-speed car accidents can cause serious injuries. Here are some of the injuries that you might encounter after a less severe car accident.
Head and neck injuries
Even at low speeds, a car crash causes your body to jerk back and forth in an unnatural way. That motion can lead to neck stiffness or whiplash. When the stress moves lower, it can cause back pain. Damage to the tissues between the vertebrae (the bones in your spine) can cause herniated discs. The back and forth can also cause headaches.
Soft tissue includes crucial body parts like muscles, tendons, and nerves. Common soft tissue injuries after minor car accidents can include
- Sprained ligaments,
- Strained muscles,
- Contusions (bruises),
- Lacerations (cuts),
- Shoulder damage (rotator cuff injury), and
- Pinched nerves.
You might think a broken bone would be obvious, but this isn’t always the case. Some bone breaks are small and only visible on an x-ray. These smaller breaks – often called stress fractures or hairline fractures – can take months to diagnose and treat.
Believe it or not, a small fender bender can cause traumatic brain injuries. Even when traveling at a low speed, a sudden stop can cause the brain to slam into the skull. This impact can cause concussions, coup contrecoup injuries, brain bleeds, and other brain trauma.
It’s easy to see how a severe wreck could cause emotional trauma, but the same is true for less severe accidents. Even seemingly minor car crashes can lead to post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and other emotional injuries in accident victims.
As you can see from this incomplete list, that “minor” car accident might not be so minor after all!
What if my accident makes an old injury worse?
Some people think that you can only recover damages for new injuries. This is not so. Alabama law uses something lawyers call the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. It’s based on an old legal doctrine that says if a person accidentally harms someone whose skull is abnormally thin (like an eggshell), they cannot use the person’s unique condition to avoid paying damages. So, if you are injured by another person’s negligence – whether in a severe or less severe accident – you can recover damages for both new injuries and existing injuries that were made worse by the accident.
Should I see a lawyer after a minor car accident?
Absolutely. Most Alabama personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. At this appointment, the lawyer will evaluate your case. They will compare your economic losses, physical injuries, and emotional damages to any possible insurance settlement. The examination will also consider any legal topics relevant to your case as well as the average settlement and average jury verdict in cases like yours. You and your personal injury lawyer can then use the evaluation to make a decision on the best course of action for your case.
More questions about minor car accidents?
Even minor car accidents should be taken seriously. Whether you are in a serious trucking accident or in a minor accident with another small car, you have legal rights. If you have questions about your legal rights after a minor car crash, a serious car accident, a trucking accident, or any other type of accident, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our founder, April H. Collins, is a Birmingham personal injury lawyer with years of experience helping accident victims throughout the state of Alabama. Our team will work tirelessly to protect your legal rights and get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation including a detailed case evaluation, call 205-588-1411 or use the Collins Law online scheduler. We look forward to helping you!