While a car accident may not appear to be serious at the outset, appearances can be deceiving, especially when it comes to certain types of musculoskeletal injuries and brain trauma.
For starters, there is no precise definition of what constitutes a “minor” car accident. Generally, an accident that causes less than $1,000 in damage can be considered minor. People may also speak of a minor car accident as one where there is no damage to the car and the passengers suffered no injuries.
But just because you feel fine immediately after an accident doesn’t mean you’re actually uninjured. You might not feel any pain as you’re standing at the accident scene surveying the damage. That’s because during moments of stress, your body produces chemicals, like adrenaline and endorphins, that can block pain. It may only be later, when you get home and relax, that you start to notice any injury symptoms.
Even then, you might dismiss your symptoms as nothing serious and assume they’ll resolve on their own. But this could be a serious mistake that plays into the hands of the insurance company.
Insurers and their defense lawyers frequently use the argument, and trot out experts to support their claim, that the forces involved in low-speed accidents are not significant enough to cause injuries. There is a significant body of research, however, showing that even low speed accidents can cause chronic injuries, including so-called “whiplash,” a type of injury to the soft tissues (such as ligaments and muscles) of the neck, and concussions.
For example, a 2021 scientific article found that the use of the “biomechanical approach” (i.e., the defense tactic used by insurance companies) vastly underestimates the actual risk or real-world, low-speed impacts. Emerging evidence also shows that there’s no such thing as a “mild” concussion. Some people develop headaches, fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, and other symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. These symptoms can last for months or years. Similar symptoms, which can also be long-term, may result from whiplash. Both whiplash and concussions can occur in relatively low-speed collisions that produce little vehicle damage.
The problem with assuming your injuries are “minor” is that you might put in an initial car accident claim, and then find out later the true extent of your injuries. The insurance company might pressure you to settle your claim immediately, but you don’t have to. For help dealing with the insurance company and advice on seeking medical treatment, get in touch us.