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Can Minor Car Accidents Cause Serious Injuries and Property Damage?

August 31, 2020

Car accidents can range from relatively minor fender-benders to serious wrecks. Fender-benders are the most common type of accident, and drivers in the U.S. will be involved in an average of three to four wrecks in their lifetime. While it can be easy to brush off minor accidents as mere inconveniences, they can still cause injuries and substantial vehicle damage, depending on the circumstances. Police should be called to the scene of any accident, no matter how minor it may seem.

There are many different situations in which a fender-bender can occur. They often happen at times when drivers may have difficulty seeing other cars, such as when backing out of driveways or parking spots or when making sharp turns. Rear-end accidents are common and can happen when traffic slows suddenly or if a driver misjudges their stopping distance. Weather can also be a factor in minor accidents, causing vehicles to slide on slippery surfaces and making it difficult to stop. Distracted drivers and drivers who are under the influence are also at risk for fender-benders. Most fender-benders happen at slow speeds, which can minimize the damage caused, but there are still significant risks.

What Injuries Occur in Minor Car Accidents?

Injuries should always be attended to, no matter how minor the car accident seems. When an accident occurs, drivers should do their best to get out of the way of traffic and then check to see if anyone has sustained injuries, including pedestrians or bicyclists who may have been involved in the crash. Sometimes, injuries may not be immediately obvious, especially if victims are in shock, so if there is medical care available at the scene, they should get checked out.

Whiplash is a common injury in fender-benders and can occur at speeds as low as five miles per hour. Whiplash occurs when the force of the crash causes the victim’s head and neck to snap back quickly. This movement can result in persistent head, neck, or back pain, limited range of motion, or cognitive issues, such as confusion and memory loss. Symptoms of whiplash often take time to appear after an accident, but they can be severe enough to require hospitalization and force victims to miss work and limit their movement while they recover.

Fender-benders can also cause minor traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), such as concussions. Even if a driver or passenger does not lose consciousness, they may still have a concussion. TBIs can happen in minor accidents, but victims should not assume they are minor injuries. Post-concussion syndrome can cause prolonged symptoms such as the following:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Loss of sensation
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Tinnitus

Each year, there are approximately 1.4 million cases of TBIs in the U.S., and about 45 percent of these cases are caused by car accidents. Similar to whiplash, these injuries may not be apparent at the scene.

How Do I Get a Police Report?

When an accident occurs, the drivers involved should contact the police, even if the accident seems relatively minor. The police will arrive at the scene and take a detailed report, and it is easier to get the facts straight right after the accident happened.

The report will include notes about how the accident occurred, the road conditions at the time of the accident, driver and witness statements, and the contact and vehicle information of the drivers involved. Police officers can also help determine whether anyone at the scene needs medical attention. If it is not an emergency, drivers can use the non-emergency number to request police at the scene.

In addition to the police report, which can be obtained using an identification number after the accident, a driver involved in a fender-bender should exchange license and insurance information with the other driver. This information will be needed when talking to their insurance company. Drivers should also take photographs or videos of the damage from multiple angles, as well as any skid marks in the road, traffic signs, or other clues that could help determine who is at fault.

Should Police Always be Contacted?

It can be tempting to not inform law enforcement for a minor accident and to handle matters on one’s own accord. Even if the other driver seems amicable, it is always a good idea to have police document the scene of the accident. There may be disputes later about how the accident actually occurred and who is at fault, or whether they were involved in the accident at all. The official police report will help to prevent these disputes and ensure that any injuries that appear later can be covered by the appropriate insurance company.

How are Minor Car Accidents Handled in Virginia?

In Virginia, drivers have certain responsibilities in accidents that result in injuries or fatalities, as well as those that cause damage to attended vehicles or other property; these can include minor accidents. Those responsibilities include notifying state or local law enforcement, as well as some other steps to help protect themselves and anyone else involved in the accident.

After the accident, drivers must stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible while being careful not to block traffic. They are obligated to provide the other driver with their name, contact information, license and registration numbers, or share these details with another person in the car if the driver is incapacitated.

If there are injuries, drivers should provide reasonable assistance to the extent that they are able, including calling an ambulance or taking them to the hospital if needed. Drivers who are injured and are not able to fulfill these obligations immediately following the crash should do their best to give the other driver their information through law enforcement after the fact.

Should I Contact My Insurance Company About a Fender-Bender?

A driver must report all accidents to their insurance company, even if they are minor and there is no visible damage. Most insurance policies have a written clause that requires drivers to report all accidents and to cooperate with any investigations that they conduct.

Similar to injuries, it may not be immediately obvious how much damage was done to a vehicle, so it is best to notify one’s insurance company right away to maximize the chance of getting injuries and vehicle damage covered. Drivers may be concerned about raised premiums and think that they are better off handling minor accident themselves, but waiting to notify insurance companies can result in denied coverage, which can be particularly costly for drivers who are at fault. Typically, it is the at-fault driver who is responsible for paying for the damages to the vehicles. A lawyer will help establish who is the at-fault driver.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Protect Victims Injured in Seemingly Minor Car Accidents

If you were hurt in a fender-bender, contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we will be with you through every step of the way so that you can get proper compensation. Complete our online form or call us at 757-352-2237 for a free consultation today. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.

301 Bendix Road, Suite 460
Virginia Beach VA 23452
Ph: 757-352-2237 | Fax: 757-994-8910