What Is Considered a Low Impact Car Accident?

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The common phrase for a low-impact car accident is “fender-bender.” As the name implies, the collision point in the accident has a low impact because both cars are driving at low speed. Damages are typically limited to dents on or around the car, but even a minor car accident may result in injury. If you suffered an injury in a low-impact car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you incurred.

Examples of Low-Impact Car Accidents

The definition of a low-impact, or low-speed, collision is a car accident that occurs while traveling under 10 miles per hour. There are a number of circumstances that may lead to a low-impact collision. Some examples may include:

  • Crashes in crosswalks or any other pedestrian zones
  • Changing lanes at an intersection
  • Merging in stop-and-go traffic
  • Collisions at stops signs and four-way stops
  • Accidents in school zones 
  • Rear-end crashes in slow traffic

A common tactic of insurance companies is to diminish the seriousness of low-speed collisions, but an attorney can help you fight for compensation.

Most Common Injuries Caused by Low-Impact Car Accidents

Any type of car accident can result in dangerous physical injury and emotional distress. Despite the benign nature that low-impact implies, even a fender-bender can cause head and spinal injuries, which are serious at any level of severity. Some common injuries that occur from colliding at low speed include:

  • Whiplash: small tears in the soft tissue of the neck caused by the abrupt movement of the head forward and then backward
  • Mental anguish: usually caused by financial distress 
  • Broken or fractured bones: usually present in the extremities 
  • Lacerations: small cuts to the skin
  • Concussion: a mild form of traumatic brain injury caused by a forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head
  • Traumatic brain injurya sudden and serious injury to the head that causes damage to the brain
  • Lower back or sciatica injury: sciatica injuries include herniated disc, bone spurs, and a narrowing of the spine called spinal stenosis

Concussions are particularly dangerous for individuals that have suffered them previously, and even a slight jolt in the crash may resurface a previous spinal injury or worsen a herniated disc.

What You Should Do After a Low-Impact Car Accident

The procedure to follow is relatively the same for any type of car accident. Each step is meant to protect your health and your potential case should you decide to file a lawsuit. Here are six steps you should take after a car accident:

  1. Assess the physical condition of everyone in the vehicle, including yourself. Severe injury is rare in the case of a low-impact accident. However, latent injuries are common. If you know right away that someone hit his or her head, you know to check for a bump or watch for signs of a concussion.
  2. Call the police and report the crash. Many states and municipalities do not require you to report accidents with minor property damage and no injuries. In such cases, they may not send officers to the scene. However, you only need to go online to file a police report and get the accident on record.
  3. Take information from everyone. Ask everyone involved to provide their names and contact information. Ask the other driver for his or her driver’s license number and insurance information as well. 
  4. Document the entire scene of the accident. Take photographs of everything, including damage to your vehicle, the area surrounding the accident, your injuries, and any nearby landmarks. The best option is to record a video on your phone of the scene and narrate the timeline of the accident when it is the freshest in your mind. 
  5. Seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, see a doctor as soon as possible to get ahead of any possible latent injuries. 
  6. Contact an attorney. This is particularly important if you know the other party is at fault. If they appear combative or do not want to provide car insurance information or contact the police, you want the advice of an attorney.

Filing a police report, documenting the scene, and seeing a doctor all provide relevant evidence for a potential lawsuit. Taking down the contact information of witnesses could help your case. In your initial consultation with a personal injury attorney, you will provide all of that information for a thorough assessment.

Why You Should Still See a Doctor

Building evidence for a lawsuit is not the only reason, or even the most important reason, that you should see a doctor after even a minor car accident. Some other pertinent reasons are:

  • Adrenaline and endorphins can mask injuries. No one expects a car accident to happen, and the shock can send a jolt of adrenaline through your body. A side effect of excess adrenaline is the blocking of pain receptors, causing you to feel fine when you may have an injury. If your injury is internal, you are even more likely to miss it.
  • Soft tissue damage may cause delayed pain. Soft tissue is made up of tendons, ligaments, and muscles and is present in vulnerable areas like the neck and joints. Whiplash is the most common type of soft tissue injury, and it does not always present itself quickly.
  • Concussions can be deadly if left untreated. Depending on the severity of the concussion, you may not even realize you have it if you do not have experience looking for the signs. 

The underlying theme in each example is that injuries following a car accident sometimes present days after the accident occurs. Waiting to see a doctor could result in further damage that may have been avoided with immediate treatment.

Additionally, waiting too long to seek medical attention could hurt your case. Insurance companies notoriously search for ways to avoid payment, and if you leave a large gap of time between the accident and treatment, an adjuster may argue that your injuries were the result of a different accident.

Potential Damages You May Recover

Medical treatment for even minor injuries and auto repair for minimum damage may still result in major financial loss. The type of damages you could potentially recover from a car accident include:

  • Economic damages: costs of medical treatment, cost of lost wages, costs of auto repair, and any out-of-pocket expenses associated with your case
  • Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of enjoyment

Economic damages are easily calculated using receipts, medical bills, pay stubs, and estimates for auto repair. Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify and may be harder to recover in a minor car accident case.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help

There are many advantages to hiring a personal injury attorney after a low-impact accident. An experienced car accident lawyer better understands the potential for your case and can help you assess your options in difficult situations, such as dealing with an at-fault driver with no insurance. If you are concerned that you cannot afford an attorney, most personal injury lawyers work on contingency, which means that they only get paid when you get paid. If you suffered an injury in a low-impact car accident, do not assume that your case is not valuable. Let the experienced car accident lawyers at Mike Morse Law Firm help you understand your options. Call us today for a free consultation.


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