While many people might consider a minor crash to be a low-speed fender bender with relatively minor injuries and a little damage, these accidents can also cause severe injuries. Some might classify a serious accident as totaling one or more vehicles, injuries requiring immediate medical care, and other significant damages.
There is no legal difference between minor and serious auto accidents in most states. Some states that have no-fault auto insurance laws may have a legal definition of “serious” injuries. However, the process for recovering damages in minor and serious accidents is the same in most states.
Are Low-Speed Auto Accidents Always Minor?
Automobile accidents that you think are minor might turn out to be much more serious. Even in a relatively low-speed fender bender, serious injuries can occur. You may end up having thousands of dollars in medical bills and significant damage to your vehicle despite what you thought at the scene.
This is one reason why you should never admit fault or let the other party leave the scene without speaking with law enforcement. It also pays to see a doctor as soon as possible if you develop any signs of an injury or unexpected pain.
Possible Injuries in Minor Accidents
Parking lot crashes, stop sign collisions, and rear-end bumps are all generally thought to be minor. However, injuries sustained can still cause you to miss work or suffer long-term complications.
For example, whiplash is common in these accidents. It can cause pain and reduced range of motion for weeks, and some people develop chronic pain. Broken bones could take months to heal, and you might not be able to complete all your tasks at work. A minor concussion could mean you experience symptoms for a week or more.
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What Types of Injuries Can Victims Suffer in Serious Auto Accidents?
The injuries suffered in a serious auto accident may not be more severe than those in a minor crash. However, they could also include catastrophic injuries that affect all aspects of your life.
You may need occupational therapy to relearn job skills, or you may never work again. In addition, they could severely affect your quality of life, relationships, and independence.
This could include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Burns and scarring
- Lost limbs and loss of use of a limb
- Internal injuries
How Do I Recover Damages After a Car Crash?
No matter the severity of an accident, assuming your state has fault-based car accident laws, you can build a case to hold the negligent driver responsible. This will require you to prove:
- The other driver had a duty to do something, usually follow a specific traffic law
- They violated this law and put you in danger
- This action or inaction caused a collision
- You suffered financial, physical, and emotional harm in the collision
You can recover damages for the harm you suffered in one of two ways:
- An insurance claim based on that driver’s mandatory auto liability coverage
- Suing that driver in civil court
If someone else caused your accident and injuries, you should not have to pay for it, no matter how severe. However, you can seek compensation to cover your expenses and losses if you have documentation to prove them.
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney to Help With My Insurance Claim?
Many people are curious about the differences between minor and serious accidents because they wonder if a car accident attorney is necessary to recover compensation in their case. While there is no requirement to have legal representation regardless of the severity of your injuries or property damage, there are reasons to consider working with an attorney, even for minor accidents.
The insurance company is not on your side. They don’t want to pay out more than they absolutely must to settle your claim. Your attorney can:
- Gather evidence to show negligence and liability
- Manage all communication with the insurer
- Value your claim
- Fight for a just settlement
- Sue, if the insurer does not engage in a fair manner
Letting someone else handle your claim also means you can focus on the critical things, like healing and getting back to the things you enjoy. In addition, your lawyer will have the resources and experience to develop a case based on your accident and move forward with a claim or lawsuit.
Deadlines in these cases range from one year to several, although numerous factors can affect the timeline in your case. Some statutes of limitations on these lawsuits include:
- Two years in Alabama; Ala. Code § 6-2-38
- Three years in Arkansas; Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-105
- One year in Louisiana; La. Civ. Code Art. 3492
- Three years in Mississippi; Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49
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We Offer Complimentary Case Reviews to Injured Victims of Auto Accidents
At the Morris Bart law firm, we will assess your legal options with you today for free. We can answer your questions about filing a claim and recovering compensation based on your accident and injuries. Our firm has 16 locations, and the areas we serve include Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Call (800) 537-8185 to speak with us about your car accident claim. We are here to help.
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