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Do I Need a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?

Posted in Our Blog on March 8, 2019

Car accidents can happen virtually anywhere, and it can be difficult to determine whether your recent accident qualifies for legal action beyond exchanging insurance information with the other driver or settling the matter between the two of you. A minor car accident such as a low-speed collision in a parking lot may not seem like it is worthy of a lawsuit at first, but the reality is that even a minor car accident can warrant legal recourse.

Assess Your Damages

All of the damages from a minor car accident may not be immediately apparent. The SUV that backed into your vehicle at the shopping center parking lot may not only have dinged your bumper, but also cracked or bent your vehicle’s frame, leading to substantially expensive repairs and possibly other damages due to lack of personal transportation. A personal injury claim allows an injured person to recover compensation for the results of another party’s negligence. If another driver caused a minor accident with your vehicle, it is vital to fully assess the damages before agreeing to any kind of settlement or arrangement with the at-fault driver.

You should also seek medical treatment after a car accident, even if it seems minor. An insurance company and/or jury will take your claim more seriously once they notice you sought medical care immediately after your accident. A minor car accident may not cause severe injuries like bone fractures or traumatic brain injuries, but they can easily aggravate a preexisting condition, cause soft tissue injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, or even cause a minor concussion or whiplash.

Consult an Attorney

Even if the other driver appears contrite and willing to pay for the damages caused, do not assume you can settle a minor car accident quickly without consulting an attorney. If you file against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, the driver may contest liability or the insurer may prolong the claims process for any number of reasons. A personal injury attorney can help you determine the best way to handle a minor car accident, regardless of how minimal or substantial you think your damages are.

When You Can Handle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawsuit

If your minor car accident only resulted in minimal cosmetic damage to your vehicle like a dented bumper or broken headlight, you can probably handle the issue without resorting to a lawsuit. The other driver may offer to pay for your repairs out of pocket, and it is ultimately up to you whether to trust such an arrangement. However, you must report the accident to your insurance company, even if you do not intend to file a claim against your own policy. An accident caused by another driver may not affect your premium rate or eligibility for coverage, but failure to report a minor accident as required by the terms of your insurance policy could lead to significant legal issues later.

You may think your car only sustained minor damage until later, and then your insurance company may argue your claim for failing to report the accident in a timely manner. Every driver should understand the details of his or her auto insurance policy. If you have any doubt as to whether you should report an accident, err on the side of caution and report it or consult with an attorney about how to handle it.

Ultimately, it is very possible to handle a car accident without involving lawyers and lawsuits; however, it is vital to confirm the full extent of your damages before accepting any kind of offer from the at-fault driver or a settlement from his or her insurance carrier. Agreeing to any kind of official settlement or signing a release of liability could end up costing you substantial compensation later.