12 million cars are involved in crashes each year. In most of these crashes, drivers will walk away from the scene and the only thing that sustains damage is their car.
However, not all drivers are that fortunate.
What is the real difference between a minor and a serious car accident? The answer may surprise you!
Even after a minor car accident, a Houston car accident lawyer can help you collect evidence and get on the road to recovery. It’s their job to protect your rights throughout every step of the process.
How do you know if your accident was minor or serious, and how will this change the course of your potential accident insurance claim? Let’s dive in.
A combination of bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time could leave you with a damaged vehicle. Fender benders happen every day on the road. More serious car accidents are less frequent, but they can be life-threatening or life-changing, with significant impacts on victims and their families. They can leave you hurting physically and financially for quite a while.
The truth of the matter is that everyone involved in even the most innocuous-seeming car accident should allow the police to investigate the collision and contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Many car accidents in Houston involve injuries that grow significantly more painful in the hours and days after the initial collision.
It is not unusual for someone involved in a car accident to walk away from the collision and be in so much pain the next day that they cannot even comfortably get out of bed. Even if your injuries may be less serious, by allowing the police to investigate your collision and promptly contact a personal injury lawyer that specializes in auto accident injuries, you can be sure that your legal rights are protected and that you will have the evidence necessary to assert a legal claim if necessary.
Some Minor Car Accidents Injuries Are More Serious Than You Think!
Every car accident victim’s experience is unique. There’s no clear-cut definition between a serious auto accident and a minor car accident. To complicate things even more, sometimes people miraculously walk away from violent collisions without a scratch, while other times simple “fender benders” result in serious injuries and chronic pains.
Additionally, car accidents can cause certain types of injuries that may go undetected for days. Symptoms for some injuries such as whiplash are not immediately noticeable.
Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe injuries to the neck or spinal column. It occurs when the head snaps quickly backward or forwards on the neck resulting in a rapid extension and compression of the structures in the neck. Common signs and symptoms of whiplash include:
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Be aware that these symptoms may not develop for some time after the injury occurs, but failing to have whiplash properly diagnosed may make it more difficult to establish that it was caused by your accident. In more serious cases, the injury may not be simple whiplash, but a tear or bulge in the disc materials between the bones that make up your spine.
People with these types of injuries may be unable to care for themselves or work, resulting in significant medical expenses and loss of income. As a result, they can bring a personal injury claim against whoever caused the injuries.
The damages that can be recovered from an accident claim include past, present, and future medical bills, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, physical pain and mental anguish, scarring or disfigurement, and disability, whether temporary or permanent. Even if it was a “hit and run” accident or the person that hit you did not have liability insurance, you may be able to recover damages via your own insurance coverage.
Bottom line? Always report accidents to the police, and always contact a personal injury attorney after a car accident of any kind. By retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible, car accident victims can ensure that their rights are protected and that they will be able to recover for their injuries.
The Difference Between A Minor and Serious Car Accident
While there are millions of traffic accidents every year, only a small percentage can be classified as “serious.” But what does that classification entail? Well, serious auto accidents usually involve serious injuries or fatalities.
In a minor car accident, the drivers can get out of their car and exchange insurance information. They do not have any immediate physical injury that prevents them from handling details at the crash scene. In a minor car accident, there is no immediate threat to the driver’s safety or that of their passengers.
Your car may have a minor dent, but it is certainly not totaled. You may even drive away from the scene in your car without needing a tow truck. Your financial loss is likely to be more minor as it would cost less to repair your car.
Basically, after a minor accident, most people are content to exchange information and go along their way.
However, it’s just not that simple.
Everyone involved in even the most straightforward-seeming car accident needs to allow the police to investigate the collision, and they need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to protect their rights. Why? Many car accident injuries grow significantly more painful in the hours and days after the initial collision. In fact, it isn’t unusual for someone involved in a car accident to walk away from the collision feeling “fine”, but be in so much pain the next day that they can’t even get out of bed.
Even if your injuries are less serious, you may be entitled to compensation for property damage, pain and suffering, and more. By allowing the police to investigate your collision and promptly contact a personal injury lawyer that specializes in auto accident injuries, you can be sure that your legal rights are protected and that you will have the evidence necessary to file a legal claim if necessary.
According to data published by the United States Census Bureau, on average there are more than 10 million car accidents every year, ranging from minor fender benders to catastrophic accidents. As the fourth largest city in the country and a very “car-centric” city, at that Houston, has a large number of auto accidents every year. Houston is a car city, and it has a very high accident rate. Most drivers take to the traffic-choked roads since the current mass transit infrastructure isn’t enough to support the booming metropolitan population.
In 2019, Houston itself had nearly 70,000 crashes, and there were over 110,000 in Harris County alone. Most drivers walked away from these incidents unharmed. However, there were over 30,000 accident-related injuries in Harris County. Most of these injuries were minor, but more than 10,000 drivers and passengers required medical attention after the crash. There were over 2,200 serious injuries in Harris County crashes.
In a minor car accident, the drivers can get out of their car and exchange insurance information. They do not have any immediate physical injury that prevents them from handling details at the crash scene. In a minor car accident, there is no immediate threat to the driver’s safety or that of their passengers. Your car may have a minor dent, and it is certainly not totaled. You may even drive away from the scene in your car without needing a tow truck. Your financial loss is likely to be more minor as it would cost less to repair your car.
Nonetheless, you should still call a police officer to the scene, even for a more minor accident. Even if the other driver seems physically fine, you never quite know what they will claim as injuries after the fact. You need a record of the accident and the conditions surrounding it because it will help when liability is determined. A police officer is a neutral third party who may make more objective observations.
You Can Gather Evidence at The Scene of a Minor Accident
It’s common legal advice to gather as much evidence at the scene of the accident as possible, but this isn’t an option when you have been in a serious car accident with injuries. However, remember you can take pictures and talk to people at the scene of a more minor accident.
We suggest you get pictures of all angles of the damage and the conditions at the time of the crash. You should also speak with people who saw what happened and get their contact information. These witnesses can provide valuable testimony later, but connecting with them is only possible if you are not dealing with your own serious crash injuries.
Even in a minor crash, you may begin to experience physical symptoms in the hour or days after the crash. One of the most common delayed onset accident injuries is whiplash. This happens when your head snaps quickly backward or forward but your body remains in the same place.
You may be surprised to learn this injury could affect much more than just your neck; whiplash can even cause a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion. Effects can linger for months or years, especially when it affects your head and neck.
This is why it is always better to see a doctor the second you notice any accident-related symptoms. If your crash was anything other than the most minor fender bender, go to the doctor for a thorough examination. Otherwise, you may have a hard time recovering because the insurance company can argue that your injury came from something else.
More Serious Accidents Require Medical Attention at the Scene
When the car crash is more serious, you cannot get out of your car on your own and begin to establish what happened. Instead, you will require medical attention at the scene. You may even need emergency life-saving care or an ambulance ride.
Serious car crash injuries could include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Internal bleeding
Severe Car Accidents Pose Short and Long-Term Threats
Serious car accidents will have a long-term effect on your life because they damage more than just your car. The accident is just the start of both the legal and medical processes.
Here are some of the challenges that you may face after a severe car accident:
- You could suffer injuries that could put your life in danger.
- Your injuries may require a long hospital stay.
- Medical bills could mount over time as you need continuous care and treatment.
- Your injuries could keep you from working for a prolonged time if you can even work again
- Your car is likely seriously damaged, and you have suffered significant property damage.
Don’t go through this ordeal alone. Partner with a car accident attorney who can connect you to the resources you need and help you heal.
Damages From a Serious Car Accident
When you were in a bad car crash, you may suffer a variety of damages:
- Medical bills for both your past and future treatment
- Lost wages for the time that you missed from work or your inability to earn what you once did
- Pain and suffering for what you went through and are still experiencing
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death (if a family member died in an accident)
What Happens After a Serious Car Accident
Major car crashes mean that you do not easily go back to your daily life. After the accident, your time will fill with much more than just taking the car to the insurance adjuster for a damage estimate. You’re coping with your bodily injury and probably aren’t in any condition to handle the tedious details of the accident.
Even if your injuries are not severe enough to keep you out of work for an extended time, you may deal with:
- Constant calls from an insurance company that is trying to weasel out of paying for what may be significant damages.
- Having no vehicle while it is being repaired or replaced.
- Seeing a steady stream of doctors and specialists to help treat your injuries.
- Financial difficulties because of steep bills and missed work.
- Stress on your family and relationships.
Of course, medical issues should be your primary concern after an accident. Your recovery comes first. Not only that, but prompt medical treatment can help when you file a claim.
Your Capacity Is Limited After a Serious Crash
We understand the stress of a car accident. The problem for accident victims is finding any emotional bandwidth to deal with the other issues. Your medical issues can be all-encompassing, leaving you with no ability to deal with the legal process. However, you must address legal issues at the same time. Moreover, you do not have the expertise to handle the claims process on your own. There is nothing that says that you have to have a lawyer, but it certainly helps!
Handling an accident insurance claim is a full-time responsibility. The most immediate challenge at hand is gathering the evidence necessary to back up your side of the story since the other driver will rarely admit to being the responsible party for the accident. You’ll need witnesses and other proof to get the financial compensation you deserve.
If necessary, an attorney will contact possible witnesses and work with experts like crash reconstructionists to prove how your accident happened. After a severe car accident, this is not something that you can do.
What Your Attorney Does After Extensive Car Accident Damages
Your attorney will handle all details of your claim. This means that they will be your voice and advocate in dealing with the insurance company and boy, will you need one.
The insurance company is not always the easiest to handle. They have their own profit motive at work, and your interests are not their interests. They have their own infrastructure in place that solely aims to protect their bottom line. This includes a squadron of lawyers and adjusters who want to save money by not paying out claims for vulnerable victims like yourself.
After a serious accident, you need someone to level the playing field between you and the insurance company.
They have teams of experts; why shouldn’t you?
This is where we come in as attorneys. We are here to safeguard your interests and fight for your legal rights. If you’re on your own, others may think that they can take advantage of you. After all, every penny that they pay you is one less penny for their bottom line.
The first way that your attorney helps you is by gathering the evidence that you need to help prove your claim. When you are involved in a serious crash, you cannot do this on your own. There is no way to piece together your own claim when you are dealing with medical and other issues.
Hire an attorney to investigate your car crash. This is what they do for a living, and they know how to prove that someone else was at fault.
Research shows that accident victims with an attorney are far better off financially than those who do not have one. They have a better chance of proving liability, and they usually receive more money. This is because an experienced lawyer knows when to say no to a low offer from the insurance company.
(Many people do not even know that they can turn down a settlement offer and negotiate!) You do not have to take the insurance company’s offer, and they are not the ultimate arbiter of how much money you legally deserve.
You Need Someone Who Can Fight the Insurance Company
After a catastrophic accident, you will need someone who can impress upon an insurance company or jury the extent of your injuries.
Even if you need extensive medical treatment, you may have difficulty articulating how badly the accident hurts you and the effect it has on your life.
Much of the strength of your claim lies in the documentation and presentation. You must make it clear to the insurance company how much you have suffered because they will never miss an excuse to try to cut your payment, dismiss your claims, or invalidate you.
The more serious your accident, the greater your need for an adequate settlement to compensate you. This is not something the insurance company will just give you. Instead, you need to fight for it by bringing an aggressive attorney onto your case. Hold the insurance company’s feet to the fire.
When you are in a serious auto accident, you need every penny that you can get. If you cannot work in the future and cannot earn enough money, how will you support yourself and your loved ones? This is why you need to fight now. An attorney will represent your legal interests and never settle for less than you truly deserve.
Car Accident Lawyers Helping Clients in Texas
Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers have been fighting for people injured in car accidents for over two decades. We work hard to maximize your recovery because we are not afraid to put legal pressure on the insurance companies.
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Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.