Sometimes what appears to be a relatively insignificant life experience turns out to be far more than you bargained for. If you’ve been involved in a “minor” car accident, you may find that – over time – your repair bills and medical expenses related to your crash spiral out of control. Reviewing your rights and determining whether you’re owed compensation right now is a good idea, even if your accident seemed “minor” at first glance.
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What Is A Minor Car Accident?
There is no universally accepted definition of what a minor car accident is. People can, and do, disagree on exactly where to draw the line between a “minor” auto accident and “major” auto accident. Generally, accidents are categorized as minor if two criteria are met:
- The damage done to a car is so minimal that it can be driven safely away from the scene.
- Any injuries sustained by those involved don’t require emergency or long-term medical care.
What To Do After A Minor Auto Accident
Even with a minor car accident, you may suffer from shock in the moments after the crash before you can process the extent of the damage. In moments like this, having a checklist can be helpful. As you gather yourself, you’ll want to do the following things immediately:
- If safe, move your vehicle to a more secure location on the side of the road. If you don’t, you risk being struck again by inattentive drivers.
- Call 911 if you or anyone involved in the accident requires immediate medical attention. A broken bone may not seem life-threatening, but it can become serious if it’s not promptly treated.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with anyone else involved in the crash.
- Exchange contact information with witnesses.
- Take photos and video of the accident scene, including the condition of all vehicles involved, their positions on the road, weather conditions, and any other potentially significant details.
- Avoid speaking with insurance adjusters, posting about your accident on social media, and admitting blame to anyone until you’ve spoken with an attorney.
Do You Have To Call The Police After A Minor Accident?
If your minor vehicle accident resulted in little damage and relatively manageable injuries, you may be hesitant to go through the stress of filing a police report. While understandable, you may want to push through this hesitation. Not having a police report on file can compromise your ability to get compensated and may leave you legally vulnerable to accusations that the wreck was your fault.
If you’re wondering how to report a minor car accident, know that this is usually a straightforward process. If you’re still at the accident scene, call 911 or the non-emergency number of the local police and tell them that you’ve just been involved in an accident. Let them know that you’re still at the scene and that you want to file a report.
Addressing Property Damage
Although it’s possible to settle a car accident claim without an attorney, allowing an attorney to speak with an insurance adjuster on your behalf will help to ensure that your interests and opportunities for compensation are protected. Insurance companies aim to turn a profit, so if they can devalue or reject your claim, chances are that they will.
Minor vehicle accident settlement amounts vary based on the circumstances surrounding the crash, each driver’s type of coverage, and the amount of auto damage that needs to be repaired. That’s why it’s important to have an accurate – and documented – estimate of damages. An attorney can help you obtain documentation of your property damage and can ensure that it is effectively presented in support of your claim.
Are You Injured?
If you have injuries as a result of your crash, you need to seek medical attention right away. If you don’t, you risk losing the ability to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning potential once you start to perceive injuries that are not initially symptomatic. For example, whiplash occurs frequently as a result of minor auto accidents, but many injury victims don’t perceive their harm for days or even weeks after a crash. But once this soft tissue injury becomes apparent, it can quickly become debilitating.
Crash victims are often entitled to compensation if their injuries were not their fault or were only partially their fault. This is one of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer after a minor car accident, even if you think that your case might not be worth much. You won’t know the true value of your case until your situation has been objectively evaluated by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
You’ll want to take additional action if any of these special circumstances apply to your minor vehicle accident:
- It was work-related: You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were hurt as a result of your crash, even if you were at fault. Act quickly because filing a workers’ comp benefits claim is an unusually time-sensitive matter.
- A child’s safety seat was in the car at the time of the crash: Even if a child’s safety seat didn’t sustain visible damage in the crash, it may need to be replaced due to its presence in a crash vehicle. Although the government doesn’t insist that all car seats be replaced after minor vehicle accidents, they recommend following each manufacturer’s guidelines. Some of these guidelines state that seats should be replaced immediately even after a minor auto accident.
- You suspect that a dangerous or defective auto part played a role in your accident: If a part of your car behaved strangely right before your crash, you may want to speak with an attorney about whether you should report your situation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Doing so could alert authorities to a recall need and could potentially save lives.
Learn More About Your Legal Rights And Options After A Minor Car Accident
Just because a car accident isn’t catastrophic doesn’t mean that it can’t result in significant financial losses due to property damage and injuries. To learn about what your car accident case might be worth, schedule a free case evaluation from a local lawyer today.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.