As car accident attorneys, we know that too many of us wrongly presume that a “minor” traffic accident can cause only minor injuries.
But keep reading, and you’ll learn how some minor accidents can cause catastrophic injuries – and you’ll also learn what your legal rights are if you’re injured in this way in South Texas by a negligent driver.
How do minor accidents cause major injuries? Here’s a comparison that may help:
Have you ever opened a carton of eggs at the supermarket and found a cracked egg – even when there was no visible damage to the carton itself?
Auto accidents can be like that. Drivers and passengers can sometimes be quite seriously injured in a low-speed collision even if there’s no serious damage to your vehicle.
WHAT KINDS OF INJURIES HAPPEN IN LOW-SPEED COLLISIONS?
Low-speed rear-end crashes, for example, are a leading cause of TBI – traumatic brain injury – and the severity of a crash sometimes has little to do with the severity of a brain injury.
Brain injuries often can be tricky and deceptive, so you must be extra-careful about any blow to the head in a low-speed accident.
Low-speed rear-end collisions can also violently affect a driver’s neck and head – for these reasons:
Impacts to the head: A safety belt will not always stop a driver’s head from striking against the windshield or from being thrown back forcefully against the headrest.
Strain on the neck: As a driver’s head is jerked back and forth in a collision, the neck can be violently pulled, causing whiplash, muscle strain, and even serious spinal injuries.
“Bouncing” of the brain: In a rear-end collision, a driver’s head may be tossed back and forth violently and repeatedly, causing the brain literally to bounce back and forth against the skull. A traumatic brain injury is the likely result.
HOW DO SOME INSURANCE COMPANIES HANDLE LOW-SPEED CRASHES?
When someone is hurt in what seems like a minor traffic accident, an auto insurance company may try to deny an injury claim by charging that such a minor collision could not possibly have caused such a serious injury.
But in far too many accident cases, that is exactly what has happened.
We generally assume that the faster vehicles are moving, the more powerful the impact, and the more severe the injuries.
That’s a general rule of thumb, but the exceptions are significant. Even when vehicles are moving slowly, and there’s little or no vehicle damage, auto accident victims may sustain serious injuries.
Bumpers are designed to withstand slow impacts, but when a bumper doesn’t absorb a slow impact, the force of that impact can transfer to the driver and any passengers. Being thrown forward and back in this way is a leading cause of whiplash and other neck injuries.
AFTER A MINOR CRASH, WHY WOULD YOU NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION?
After even a “minor” auto accident, you need to be examined by a healthcare professional right away. What may seem at first to be a trivial injury could emerge days or even weeks later as a critical medical condition.
The most common injuries reported in low-speed traffic accidents include: TBI, spinal cord injuries, whiplash, nerve damage, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and post-concussion syndrome.
If you’ve sustained an injury in any traffic accident, your health must be your top priority. If you are involved in a low-speed collision and you feel lingering pain – or if you sense that something’s just not right – see a doctor immediately. Take no chances.
AFTER YOU SEE A DOCTOR, WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?
After seeing a doctor, discuss the accident and injury with an auto accident attorney. If you’ve been injured in this state because another driver was negligent, you are entitled to compensation under Texas law.
Don’t worry if there was little or no physical damage to the vehicles. If you are injured, get medical attention and legal advice at once.
When a personal injury lawyer takes your case, that lawyer will gather evidence, question witnesses, and use the legal tools and strategies necessary to win compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages arising from the accident.
Treatment for severe spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries can cost millions of dollars over a lifetime.
WHAT CAN BE AT STAKE IN LOW-SPEED ACCIDENT CASES?
In these most egregious of personal injury cases, a dedicated injury attorney will fight aggressively for every available dollar of compensation – and will settle for nothing less.
If it’s necessary, your personal injury lawyer will arrange for a spinal cord or brain injury expert to testify on your behalf.
If you’re injured by a negligent driver in a Texas traffic accident, you must begin immediately to gather evidence – on your own – even before consulting an attorney.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AT THE SCENE OF A LOW-SPEED COLLISION?
There won’t be a lawyer to advise you at an accident scene, so if you’re involved in a low-speed collision, try to think clearly, and start compiling evidence.
If you can, take photos of the accident site, your own injuries if visible, and any visible vehicle damage. If there are eyewitnesses, try to get their names and contact information.
Keep copies of any bills, documents, test results, police reports, or other paperwork arising from the accident.
Be examined by a healthcare professional and follow the recommended treatment.
Keep any medical appointments. They create the records you will need to prove your personal injury claim.
After an injury in a low-speed accident, a skilled Edinburg auto accident attorney can fight for your compensation, but compiling the documents and the other evidence you’ll need will be up to you, at least at first.
DO INJURED VICTIMS HAVE A TIME LIMIT FOR TAKING LEGAL ACTION?
In the state of Texas, with very narrow exceptions, a personal injury lawsuit arising from a vehicle accident must be filed within two years of the date of the accident, the date of the injury’s “discovery,” or the date when the injury should have been detected.
But if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence, especially in a low-speed crash, do not wait two years. Too many injury victims wait, and then they scramble to file a lawsuit at the last minute.
Instead, speak to an accident attorney immediately after you’ve been injured by negligence. The laws are different in states like California, so it is best to speak with a team of CA car accident lawyers.
WHY CAN TAKING LEGAL ACTION BE SO IMPORTANT?
When you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, it’s important to do the right thing, both for yourself and for others. Negligent drivers should be held accountable, and their auto insurance companies should meet obligations to injury victims.
Get the help you need if you’ve been injured – it’s your right. And don’t try to go it alone – get experienced legal help. Your health and your future are too important to put at any further risk.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.