Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?
Car accidents can be upsetting and dangerous for everyone involved. Serious accidents can cause life-threatening injuries and devastating damage to your vehicle. Minor collisions, where the associated injuries and property damages aren’t severe, may seem like no big deal in comparison. It may be tempting to just walk away. It is important, however, to take the accident seriously. Even after a fender bender, you should report the accident to the police and your insurance company, seek medical attention, and consider contacting a car accident lawyer.
What Is Considered a Minor Car Accident?
The severity of a car accident depends on your injuries, the damage to your car, and the amount of money involved in any potential settlements. If no one involved in the car crash was seriously injured and the vehicles are still operable, the accident was likely a minor one. Some examples of minor vehicle damage may include:
- A broken headlight or taillight
- A cracked windshield
- A small dent or scratch to the body of the vehicle
- A broken side view mirror
Minor car accidents usually occur at low speeds, like being rear-ended in a parking lot. After a minor crash, you should be able to drive your car away from the scene of the accident.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
Check for injuries
Check your body for any visible injuries as well as any pain you may be feeling and be sure your passengers do the same. If anyone has serious injuries, seek medical care immediately. Even if no one appears to be injured, see a physician soon after your accident in case of hidden injuries. Tell your doctor you were in a car accident so they know what to look for. This will also ensure that your injuries are documented.
Move vehicles out of traffic if possible
If your car is operational, move it to the shoulder of the road or even into a nearby parking lot. This will allow traffic to continue to move and keep everyone safe as you deal with the accident.
Take photos of the scene
Document the accident with pictures. These can be used as evidence when determining who was at fault. Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the collision from multiple angles, as well as the scene of the accident itself.
Report the accident to the police
Many insurance companies require a police report in order to file a claim. Even if you do not need an ambulance, call your local non-emergency line and ask them to send a police officer to the scene. Give the officer a factual account of the incident without speculating on whose fault the accident was.
Exchange information with the other driver
Calmly and professionally exchange contact information with the driver of the other vehicle. Be sure to get their name, address, phone number, and insurance information. Ask any witnesses for their contact information as well, in case they need to provide statements later.
Notify your insurance provider
Report the accident to your auto insurance company. Even if it is determined that you were not responsible for the accident, your insurance policy may cover initial damages until you receive a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. It is important that you notify your insurer as soon as you can to protect yourself and any insurance claims you may be entitled to.
Consider contacting a car accident lawyer
Not all car accidents require the assistance of an attorney. However, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or damages you suffered due to the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you with your car accident case.
What NOT to Do After a Minor Car Accident
What you don’t do after an accident is just as important as what you do. Saying or doing something you shouldn’t can harm your case. You may even enable the other driver to file a claim against you.
Don’t admit fault
It may seem natural to apologize or say “it was my fault,” after a car accident. Do not do this. Insurance companies may see something as simple as an apology as an admission of fault. When giving the police a report of the accident, simply state the facts of the event. Do not give opinions or speculations on what happened. Do not admit fault to the police, the other driver, an insurance adjuster, or anyone else involved in the case.
Don’t leave the scene
In many places, leaving the scene of an accident is against the law. Regardless of how minor the accident may seem, stay put until law enforcement clears you to leave.
Don’t discuss the accident on social media
Anything you post on your social media page can be used against your claim. Avoid talking about the accident, your injuries, or your case in a public way.
Common Injuries From Minor Car Accidents
Immediately after a minor accident, you may feel fine physically. This might mean that you are uninjured, but it could also mean that you have hidden injuries. Thanks to the adrenaline produced by your body after an accident, you may have suffered injuries that you won’t notice for hours, days, or even weeks after the crash.
In the time following the car accident, pay close attention to your body. Take note of any new symptoms or pain you are feeling, and get them looked at by a medical professional as soon as possible. Some common car accident injuries include:
- Muscle strains or tears
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
While you may not have suffered broken bones or large lacerations, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately after a car accident, even if you believe you are not hurt. Some serious injuries, such as back pain, may progress gradually. This can make them difficult to notice. Easily overlooked injuries can cause serious physical and emotional distress if left unchecked.
What Damages Can I Recover After an Accident?
Even after a fender bender, you may find bills and expenses piling up around you. If you were in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Medical bills, including ambulance rides, doctor visits, chiropractic care, and physical therapy
- Vehicle repairs, tow truck fees, and rental car costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
A car accident attorney can help you determine whether you have a case and what damages you may be owed according to the law.
Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friend
Insurance providers will often do anything they can to avoid offering fair compensation for injuries and other damages. They have a number of tactics to get out of paying a full settlement. Some things an insurance adjuster might do to try and minimize your settlement are:
An insurance company may try to insist that their client was not at fault for the accident. Documenting your crash thoroughly can help you provide evidence for your claim.
Offer a quick settlement
By giving a settlement offer quickly, the insurance provider may hope to satisfy you with less money than you deserve. Your medical treatment needs to be completed before receiving a settlement so that you know the full extent of your damages.
Claim that your injuries were not a result of the accident
An insurance company may try to claim that your injuries were pre-existing conditions, not caused by the car crash. This is why it is crucial to seek medical care after your accident and have all your injuries documented by your doctor.
Diminish the severity of your injuries
Insurance adjusters will use any evidence they can to assert that your injuries are not as bad as you say. Avoid posting anything on social media that could give the insurance provider proof that you are not hurt. For example, a picture of you participating in physical activity could serve as evidence that you are not in pain.
Attempt to be friendly
The insurance adjuster may ask you questions about your injuries or recovery. This might seem like a kind, caring thing to do. Avoid talking to the adjuster about these things– they are likely trying to gain your trust and gather information from you.
Encourage you not to hire an attorney
Insurance companies know that accident victims who hire a personal injury lawyer are more likely to receive a larger settlement than if they were not being represented by an injury attorney. They do not want you to have legal representation that can negotiate your settlement for you.
When Should I Hire an Attorney?
If you have medical expenses, vehicle damage, or ongoing pain as a result of your motor vehicle accident, it is a good idea to contact an attorney. If your damages were due to another driver’s carelessness, you may have a legal right to compensation. A car accident lawyer can help you understand the claims process and receive the payout you deserve.
The Advocates are a law firm of compassionate, competent attorneys who can help you receive the car accident settlement that you are entitled to. An Advocate can help you access medical care, find a body shop for car repairs, build your personal injury claim, and negotiate a fair settlement.
Call or chat online with a live attorney for a free consultation. You deserve a legal team that communicates openly, cares about your recovery, and doesn’t take a dime unless you win your case. You deserve an Advocate!