According to the national statistics report on traffic accidents provided by the NHTSA, between 5 and 6 million accidents occur yearly. From those accidents, between 1 and 2 million result in injury.
Of course, plenty of those accidents likely result in severe injuries and even death, but the majority of them tend to be minor collisions. Minor accidents or fender benders happen most often, but just because an accident is minor doesn’t mean it can’t still have serious consequences.
There are many minor accident cases in which people are still badly injured. Thus, these cases should not be taken lightly. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to try to downplay minor accidents to get out of paying the injured victims what they deserve.
If you’re asking—“should I get a lawyer for a minor car accident?”—the answer is yes. If you were injured and are owed compensation to help pay for your injuries, then yes, you should work with a lawyer.
At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we take all of our client’s cases seriously, whether they are dealing with a major collision or a minor accident. We’ve represented car accident victims in Michigan for over 40 years and fight hard to ensure our clients get the fair settlement they deserve.
When is a Car Accident Considered Minor?
Generally speaking, a minor car accident or a fender bender is a collision that results in minimal damage. The best way to describe a minor accident is to say that it is one that you can easily still drive away from, meaning the damage to your car is so minor that it is still functional.
These kinds of accidents tend to occur at lower speeds and are most common closest to home. Still, they can also happen anywhere at any time.
Common examples of minor car accidents include:
- Getting hit by a vehicle backing up, such as in a parking lot or from a driveway
- Misunderstandings at stop signs leading to a collision
- Distracted driving resulting in one driver rear-ending another at slower speeds
- Sideswipe collisions when two cars collide while merging or changing lanes
No matter the scenario, a minor collision will result in minor vehicle damage. That being said, though the damage to the car might be minor, people can still sustain serious injuries in these kinds of accidents. This is why taking certain steps and precautions after the accident is important to ensure you can file a claim without any issues.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
Again, just because the accident you are involved in doesn’t seem like a big deal does not mean you should so easily dismiss it. On the contrary, you should always report the accident and take certain steps to protect yourself in case you need to file a claim to recover compensation for any injuries you might have sustained.
Below are the steps you should take after a fender bender or minor collision to ensure the best possible outcome for your case:
- Pull your car over to the side of the road or anywhere else nearby that gets you out of oncoming traffic. You don’t want to chance getting hit again while you exchange information and wait for the police to arrive.
- Call 911 to report the accident and have them send medical responders if you have injuries that need to be addressed immediately.
- Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident. Even if there is no sign of damage or injury right away, you should still get their info.
- Gather evidence. Though the police may take note of evidence on their own, it’s not uncommon for things to get overlooked, especially with minor accidents. So if possible, take photos and videos of the accident, including close-up shots of the vehicles and where they were impacted.
- Get witness contact info. Even if the accident seems straightforward regarding what happened and who was at fault, it doesn’t hurt to have witnesses. When you file your claim, the person who hit you could try to deny fault and blame you, so having witnesses to back up your claim will help.
- Get checked out by a medical professional. Even if you feel fine following the accident, you never know what injuries could develop down the road. So it’s always best to get evaluated by a doctor as soon as you can. This will serve as evidence should you file a compensation claim, and it will also ensure your health and well-being are taken care of.
- Consult with a lawyer. The other party’s insurance company may try to contact you, but you would be wise to consult with an attorney before you talk to the insurance company. They might try to use your own words against you to deny your claim, but a lawyer can prepare you for this and help you avoid making any mistakes that could be used against you.
Why Should I Get a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
It’s not uncommon for minor car accidents to get dismissed as so inconsequential that there is no need to file a claim or work with a lawyer. Unfortunately, this line of thinking can easily put you in a difficult situation.
1. Injuries Could Be Worse Than You Think
The injuries you sustained in your minor accident could be more serious than you think. With minor car accidents, it’s common for injuries to take time before symptoms start appearing. For example, back injuries are not always immediately apparent after an accident, but if you delay seeking treatment for this kind of injury, you could end up having back pain and other problems later on as the issue gets worse.
Whiplash is another common injury that occurs in minor accidents, which is a type of injury that results in damage to the soft tissues in the neck. What might initially feel like a very minor neck strain could turn into severe pain and limited range of motion down the road if the injury is not treated.
However, once your injuries and symptoms appear, you might struggle to file a claim and recover compensation for your medical bills if you waited too long. A lawyer can help you file your claim immediately and ensure you have the medical evidence you need to prove your injuries and get the compensation you deserve.
2. Liability Disputes
Though Michigan is a no-fault state, meaning you can seek compensation through your own insurance company, there are cases where fault and liability do come into play. If another party was at fault, there are certain circumstances where you may be able to file a third-party claim or lawsuit against them to recover additional compensation for damages, such as pain and suffering.
However, if there are disputes over who was at fault, it can make filing a third-party claim challenging. But if you work with a lawyer, they can help you build a strong case proving you are the victim and that another party is to blame. Even with minor accidents, liable parties can try to deny fault to avoid taking responsibility for what happened.
3. Insurance Undervaluing Your Claim
Minor car accident settlement amounts are not necessarily small. For example, if you sustain a back injury, it could end up affecting you long-term, which means you deserve to be fully and fairly compensated for all the ways that injury will affect your life.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to undervalue minor accident claims. They simply take these accidents at face value, meaning they automatically assume they don’t owe you much since the damage was minimal. But again, just because the car damage is minimal in a minor accident doesn’t mean the injuries are minimal or non-existent.
If you work with a lawyer, they will help you provide as much evidence as possible and craft a strong argument to ensure the insurance company awards you fairly. Without a lawyer, the insurance company will likely offer you a reduced settlement of much less than what you deserve.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm: Michigan Minor Car Accident Lawyers
If you were involved in a minor car accident and need help navigating your claim, our team of legal experts can assist you. At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we have over 40 years of experience handling Michigan car accident claims, including those involving third-party claims and lawsuits for minor car accidents.
Call our Michigan car accident lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). You’ll pay nothing until we settle your case.