It can be tempting to avoid reporting a minor car accident, especially if no one was injured. However, the safe approach is to always report a crash to the police and speak with a car accident lawyer, even if it seems unnecessary.
A car accident should never be brushed off as a minor event. It’s important to understand that even if the people and vehicles seem okay at the time of the crash, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been major damage.
Protecting Yourself After a Minor Accident
There are two significant reasons you should always consult a car accident lawyer after a minor crash. First, you can’t know what the long-term impact of the accident will be, for the people involved as well as their vehicles. Second, you should never take another driver at their word.
A minor car accident can do serious damage to a vehicle. At the scene of the crash, you might see only a small dent or a scratched paint job. However, down the line, it often becomes apparent that a fender bender did major damage.
Common car issues that can come out of even a minor crash include:
- Transmission problems
- Bent axle
- Battery failure
- Steering problems
- Door issues
Some of these common car troubles can be costly to fix. In addition to mechanical and electrical problems, most minor crashes leave one or both vehicles in need of bodywork and a new paint job. Fixing a minor dent or scratch usually costs, at minimum, a few thousand dollars.
Even if you’re prepared to pay out of pocket or live with the damage, the other driver might not realize at the time of the crash the expenses that go into repairing seemingly minor issues.
One of the most important reasons you should always take a minor crash seriously is because of the high risk of accident injuries. A car accident is a shocking event that causes adrenaline to run high. The trauma of the event coupled with relief that it wasn’t more severe makes it hard to accurately assess the state of your health.
You can experience injuries that you’re simply not aware of at the scene due to shock. There are also several types of car accident injuries that aren’t immediately apparent. In some cases, it can take hours, days, or even weeks for car accident injury symptoms to appear.
Some of the most common injuries that happen in even minor car accidents include:
- Slipped disc
- Muscle strain
- Neck injury
- Lower back injury
- Organ damage
Most of these conditions can lead to serious complications. Any type of injury that impacts the brain or spinal column has a high risk of diminishing your earning ability and may lead to long-term effects like chronic pain or the eventual need for surgery.
You should always have yourself checked by a doctor immediately after a minor accident. You should also follow up promptly if you begin experiencing delayed onset symptoms in the days or weeks following the crash.
One final concern you should keep in mind is the possibility of the other driver making false statements. It can be tempting to take the other person at their word when they say they won’t be reporting the accident or when they claim to be uninjured at the scene.
Car accident lawyers often meet clients who trusted the other driver at the scene only to find out that they later changed their story. Common false claims that drivers make include:
- You caused the crash
- You committed a hit-and-run
- You seriously damaged their vehicle
- They suffered serious accident injuries
When you don’t have an official police report and a car accident lawyer on your side, it becomes a matter of your word against theirs. All too often, a well-intentioned driver gets stuck paying for a crash they didn’t cause, injuries that didn’t really happen, or vehicle damage that wasn’t related to the accident.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Helps After a Minor Accident
A car accident lawyer can help in many ways after a crash. They can help you recover the money you need to fix your vehicle and fight for injury compensation when you end up dealing with medical bills and lost wages after a crash.
One of the most important roles a car accident lawyer fills is establishing liability. A lawyer will investigate the car accident and leverage their experience to prove that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident. Things a car accident lawyer might do to build your case include:
- Reviewing accident reports
- Reviewing medical records
- Ensuring police procedure was properly followed
- Collecting footage from traffic and security cameras
- Gathering eyewitness testimony
The exact steps your lawyer will take usually depend on the circumstances of the crash. However, in every case, reporting the crash and consulting with a lawyer protects you from false claims the other driver might make.
Identifying Car Accident Compensation
If you end up dealing with medical issues related to the crash, you’ll need to recover injury compensation.
In most cases, successfully making the other driver’s insurance company — or even your own — pay for your injury expenses requires first establishing liability. Once your lawyer achieves this, they’ll collect evidence of your losses and use it to establish your case value.
When minor accident injuries lead to major costs, a car accident lawyer can help you recover compensation for things like:
- Medical bills
- Ambulance bills
- Medical devices
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages and benefits
- Pain and suffering
Once a lawyer finishes building your case, they’ll submit a claim to the insurance company and work to negotiate a settlement. In some cases, an insurance company refuses to settle for what you need. Then, a lawyer might recommend taking your case to court for a lawsuit. However, the majority of accident claims are resolved through negotiation and settlement.
It’s important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. Involving a lawyer right away protects you and increases your chance of recovering the compensation you need. It also helps ensure you don’t miss the deadline if a lawsuit becomes necessary.
Our Car Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Help
Schiff & Associates understands that even a minor accident can have a major impact on your finances. Our award-winning car accident lawyers have been producing impressive results for clients in Columbus for over 40 years.
Contact Schiff & Associates today to speak with an experienced Columbus car accident lawyer.