Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?
A minor car accident might result in a bump on your bumper or a dent. However, it can also result in a significant legal battle if you incur expensive repair bills and suffer a hidden injury with symptoms appearing days or weeks after the crash.
If a minor car accident causes financial, physical, or emotional consequences, it is a good idea to work with a lawyer to help you navigate the legal process of filing a claim with your insurance company.
A St. Petersburg car accident attorney can help you calculate your damages and understand Florida law to help you obtain the compensation you need after your accident. Learn what factors can affect a minor car accident and how a lawyer can protect your rights to a fair settlement.
Minor Car Accidents Can Be Expensive
Car accident costs can add up when you assess the total damages to your car. For example, the expenses for replacing a dented bumper can run between $800 to $2,000. Even a slight impact on the back of your car can result in electrical damage to the wiring in your brake lights, battery, and taillights that require major repairs.
A minor car accident may also damage expensive personal items like eyeglasses, child safety seats, or cell phones. Other factors that can influence the costs of a minor car accident, including:
You Could Be Blamed
You may pursue a claim with your auto insurance for a car accident. However, the other driver can assert they suffered severe and permanent injuries, scarring, and disfigurement in the accident.
In Florida’s pure comparative negligence system, an accident victim who suffers significant injuries in a car accident can pursue damages from the other party, even if both parties are partially responsible for the accident. The driver’s insurer might claim that you caused the accident to lower your compensation if the other driver pursues a claim against you.
Insurance Companies Won’t Be On Your Side
Dealing with your auto insurance company should help you obtain the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses. The insurance company must pay you within 21 days of receiving your claim.
If you suffered injuries and obtained medical attention after the accident, your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is responsible for paying up to $10,000 in medical and disability benefits. This includes expenses incurred within 14 days of your treatment.
In a third-party claim, insurance companies may try to settle your claim for much less than you deserve, even if it was a minor accident. For example, the insurer’s initial offer may not reflect the true value of your claim. They may also try to downplay the severity of your injuries or dispute the cause of the accident.
You can rely on Emerson Straw Injury Law to help you get the fair settlement you deserve. We can guide you through the complexities of comparative negligence and help prove the extent of your injuries. We will demonstrate the emotional and financial impact of the accident on your life by using witness testimonies and medical records connecting your injuries to the accident.
Possible Injuries You May Have Suffered
Minor car accidents may cause injuries that do not appear for days or even weeks after the accident. Chronic pain from these injuries can require long-term treatment and rehabilitation, adding to your medical expenses.
Soft Tissue Injuries
When a driver hits the brakes, the vehicle may suddenly halt, causing their neck and muscles to jerk back and forth. These motions can result in soft tissue injuries like whiplash.
Symptoms of whiplash may not appear until 24 hours or more after the crash. These symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness in the neck and shoulders
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the affected area
- Headaches or migraines
- Fatigue and weakness
- Issues with memory and concentration
You might have suffered a concussion if you bumped your head on the steering wheel when the other driver hit your vehicle. Concussion symptoms are not always evident after sustaining the accident, but they can appear hours or days later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that these symptoms can impact your mood, thinking, behavior, and sleep patterns:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance issues
- Double or blurry vision
- Noise or light sensitivity
- Feeling groggy or sluggish
A soft tissue injury may only require pain medication, rest, and ice. However, treating a concussion can lead to significant medical expenses like hospital stays, imaging tests, and rehabilitation services.
It’s crucial to seek medical attention from your healthcare provider, even if you didn’t experience significant pain after an accident. Your doctor will create a treatment plan including the diagnosis, treatment goals, treatment options, side effects, and expected duration of treatment based on your examination.
An exam from your medical provider can reveal other hidden injuries from your car accident:
- Herniated disk: Your diagnostic images may reveal a herniated disc even when you did not experience any symptoms of numbness and pain following the accident. If you experience symptoms, medications, and physical therapy can minimize pain. When symptoms don’t improve, your provider will suggest surgery to remove the herniated disc.
- Spinal injuries: Symptoms like aching legs and sharp back pain can indicate a spinal cord infarction, a stroke within the spinal cord. It can result from a head and neck injury. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can help you recover from a spinal cord infarction.
Your lawyer can use your treatment plan and medical bills to help establish the extent of your injuries and the medical treatment you require. These pieces of evidence can support your claim and ensure you receive the full benefits available under your PIP policy.
What to Do After a Minor Accident
Taking the proper steps after an accident can help you evaluate your injuries and receive medical treatment from your provider. These steps can also help you protect your rights to obtain a fair settlement from the insurance company.
What You Should Always Do After a Minor Accident
Remaining calm in a minor car accident and taking the right steps can protect your legal rights. Take the following actions after a car accident is in your best interests to increase your chances of winning a settlement:
- Assess your injuries and those of other passengers and drivers to determine if you require emergency treatment.
- If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road, and turn on the hazard lights.
- If there are injuries or property damage totaling $500, you must call the local law authorities to file a police report.
- Inform the police of the events leading up to the accident and avoid speculating or admitting fault.
- Exchange contact details, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information with the other drivers.
- Take photos of your injuries and property damage to your car and the other vehicles.
- Ask people who witnessed for their contact information so your lawyer can contact them for their testimonies.
- Notify your insurance company about the accident immediately and follow their instructions for filing a claim.
Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer After Your Accident?
Before speaking with your insurance company, contact a St. Augustine car accident attorney from Emerson Straw Injury Law. Your personal injury attorney will employ careful negotiation strategies and use vital evidence such as medical records, witness statements, and accident photos to secure a more favorable settlement throughout the claims process.
Your lawyer can provide legal advice when you must make a personal statement to the insurance company. When negotiating with the insurance company, your lawyer will focus on the severity of the incident, the extent of your injuries, and how they will impact your life to help you settle your claim.
Get a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in a minor car accident, Emerson Straw Injury Law can assist you in handling your claim. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will factor in all medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering to help you receive fair compensation from the insurance company. We have a successful track record with car accident cases and will take your case to trial if necessary.
Contact us today to book a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
When should we hire an attorney after being in an accident?
Consider hiring an attorney if you have suffered injuries or significant property damage in a minor car accident. Your attorney can help you navigate the insurance claim process and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive a fair settlement. It’s important to hire an attorney if the other party is disputing fault or your insurance company offers a lowball settlement.
Should you get a lawyer if you were hurt in a car accident and the other party is at fault?
Consider hiring a lawyer, no matter who is at fault in a minor car accident. Injuries like concussions and whiplash from minor accidents aren’t apparent until days or weeks later. Your lawyer can use your medical records and bills to link your injuries to the accident and ensure you receive compensation.