Do I Need a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?

Major car accidents are life-changing events, while minor car accidents can be more of a nuisance. After experiencing a minor car accident, you might wonder whether contacting a lawyer is necessary, or if the aftermath is something you can handle completely on your own. Since each situation is different, there is no right or wrong answer as to whether you need a lawyer for a minor car accident, but if you were injured in any fashion, it is wise to contact a Lafayette personal injury lawyer after a collision. Keep in mind such consultations are free of charge.   

Minor Car Accidents

Minor car accidents are those in which no one is seriously injured and none of the vehicles involved sustain significant damage. Most of the time, these so-called “fender benders” are handled quickly through the responsible party’s insurance company, but some minor car accidents turn out to be not as minor as initially perceived.

For example, you may think the other driver simply dented your vehicle or scraped off the paint when he or she hit you. If you do not have the car promptly checked by a mechanic, you may not find out the damage was worse than it first appeared. Perhaps the force of the impact damaged your axle – an expensive repair job – and the insurance company may not pay for repairs if you did not have the car examined by a professional right after the accident.

Minor Car Accident, Major Injury

When a collision occurs, adrenaline starts pumping. A person may not think they suffered an injury, or anything worse than a little bruising, but some conditions may not surface until 24 hours or more after the crash. One of the most common injuries after a relatively minor car accident is whiplash, and symptoms may not appear for a few days.

Whiplash is formally known as cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome (CADS) and involves neck strain resulting from hyperextension after a collision. It often occurs in low-speed, minor rear-end crashes, affecting the driver or passenger in the front seat of the struck vehicle.

CADS may also involve nerves, muscles, ligaments, and cervical discs. The term “whiplash” derives from the violent jerking back and forth of the accident victim’s head, as with the cracking of a whip. The vehicle suffers minor damage, but it is a different story for those inside it.

Whiplash Symptoms

Even though whiplash symptoms may not appear for a few days, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately after an accident even if you do not think you were hurt. That way, if symptoms do appear, there is a record of seeing a healthcare provider right away. Not going to the doctor right away gives the insurance adjuster the ability to allege that the injury did not occur because of the car accident.

It could be whiplash if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Jaw pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression
  • Nausea

Most people recover from whiplash within a few weeks, but there are some for whom symptoms last much longer, affecting their ability to work and perform normal activities.  Sometimes, whiplash becomes chronic, requiring intensive treatment and possible surgery.

Statute of Limitations

In most states, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident is two, three, or more years after the incident. That is not the case in Louisiana, which has one of the nation’s shortest statutes of limitations, at just one year from the accident date. If the accident involved a government vehicle, such as a public school bus, the statute of limitations is even shorter. Failure to file a lawsuit by that deadline generally means the lawsuit cannot go forward in court. Because of this relatively brief deadline, when it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer, time is of the essence.

Reviewing Your Case

The Lafayette car accident attorneys at Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers can review your case and advise you of your options. Once you know your legal options, you can make an informed decision about whether to pursue a lawsuit. A lawyer will also answer any questions you have and can help guide you through the insurance process.

Having a lawyer negotiate your insurance settlement means you will not have to deal with the paperwork and should receive the maximum compensation available given the circumstances. Insurance adjusters seek to settle for as little as possible, which is their job. When you have legal representation, you have an attorney fighting hard to protect your rights so that you receive a fair settlement. 

For a free case review, contact Bart Bernard today. You’re Smart. Get Bart.™