First Steps After A Minor Car Accident

First Steps After A Minor Car Accident

Written by Dennis Grossman

Attorney Dennis Grossman has managed thousands of cases, obtaining millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for his clients.

Nobody ever anticipates getting into a car accident, so it can be quite shocking and frustrating when it does happen. Even if you have been involved in a minor car accident, you cannot drive away. According to the law, you must follow certain steps after there has been a crash involving motor vehicles.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are some very common injuries that occur in minor car accidents that they may be seeking compensation for. The following information is a guide on what to do if you have been involved in a minor car accident.

What are some common types of minor car accidents?

One of the most common minor car accidents is a rear-end impact. These crashes can be due to either following too closely or they can happen at stop signs or at stoplights when one person is behind another and is not paying attention. Rear-end accidents are the most common reason for developing whiplash.

Sideswipe accidents usually occur when one driver is trying to change lanes and does not see another driver before crashing into them. These accidents typically result in significant damage on the side of the vehicle.

Injuries From Minor Car Accidents

Most of the injuries sustained in minor accidents are also minor in nature. However, in some rare instances, the victims’ injuries can be more severe. Two of the most common injuries from minor car accidents are whiplash and concussions.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a temporary, non-life-threatening neck injury caused by the sudden, forceful movement of the head during a car accident. There are many different tiny muscles, tendons, and ligaments within the neck protecting the other tiny bones within the neck and head, not to mention the multiple nerves that leave the brain and travel down the brainstem to the spine. While whiplash is typically not severe enough to be considered more than a mild injury, it can still be extremely painful for the victim and limit their range of motion. The symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Extreme neck and pain soreness and stiffness
  • Inability to move neck without pain
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Headaches that typically start at the base of the skull
  • Sensitivity or tenderness pain in the shoulders, upper arms, or back

What is a concussion?

When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, there are two different types: closed and open. Open traumatic brain injuries are when the skull has been punctured, and the brain is exposed. But a concussion is considered a closed and much more mild brain injury where the brain has bumped into the inner walls of the skull and can lead to temporary cognitive symptoms. The victim may or may not lose consciousness immediately. However, they may show other signs of concussion such as:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears

Now it’s time to take a look at what you should do when you find yourself in a car accident.

First, Determine If Anyone Is Injured

Immediately after the accident, assess yourself and determine if you have been injured. If you are able to, then the next thing you should do is check on anyone in your vehicle to see if they are hurt. Look around for your cell phone to see if it moved during the accident. It is not uncommon for cell phones to fall or go flying during an accident. 

Immediately call 911 to report the accident to law enforcement and have an ambulance arrive at the scene. If you are ambulatory and are able to get out of the vehicle, you must immediately check on the other driver. Finally, you must check to see if there were any pedestrians that were affected by the accident. Even if they only sustained minor injuries, you will want to report those to the 911 dispatcher.

What To Say and Information To Exchange

Sometimes people say things after an accident that they later regret or without thinking. Or drivers who feel that they have been victimized or incredibly inconvenienced by the accident might become belligerent or start accusing other drivers of not paying attention.

Maintaining your composure on the side of the road could actually help your situation. Even if you think that you were at fault for the accident, do not volunteer that information. It’s better to wait for the investigation to be completed. You don’t for certain whether any of the other drivers were somehow responsible. Stick to the information that you are required to exchange with the other driver:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your address
  • Your email address
  • Your car insurance information and policy number. If the officer or the other driver asks for it, you must show proof of a valid driver’s license.

You will be asked by the police car, the insurance company, and your attorney to give a statement. You may even be asked multiple times. You want to just stay with the facts and not speculate on how you believe the accident happened.

Get Medical Treatment if Necessary

Even if you do not believe that you were initially injured in the crash, it doesn’t hurt to allow first responders to examine you and provide their professional input. Taking these steps can protect you and any passengers in your vehicle. Additionally, adrenaline could be masking many symptoms of injuries. Accept the medical treatment that you have been offered if you feel you need it. 

Sometimes, even with a minor accident, the emergency room physician will order imaging tests to assess your bones, organs, and soft tissues for damage. An example would be a computerized tomography or CT scan. These machines use x-rays to create images of soft tissues, blood vessels, organs, and bones, and provide greater detail than X-ray scans do. Even a minor accident can lead to fractures and injuries that could require the use of a cast, crutches, or other medical devices.

It’s important to seek medical attention after you have been injured in any sort of accident. 

Accept Medical Help if you Need It

Do not minimize your injuries or say that you don’t need help if you do. Many injuries sustained in car accidents do not show up immediately. Some show up several hours later and can be life-threatening. Stomach bleeding, for example, is a common injury caused by the blood vessels breaking in the abdomen from the torso hitting the seatbelt with great force. Internal bleeding can be life-threatening over the course of several hours or days, depending on the severity of the bleeding. But a person may not know that they have it until several hours later when they are in excruciating pain, and their skin starts to show the first signs of red and purple discoloration. Stomach bleeding is one of many types of injuries that have a delayed onset.

With adrenaline coursing through your veins as a natural reaction to stress, you may actually feel quite fine immediately after the accident. But that does not mean you should forgo medical treatment. If you feel like you could be in need of medical assistance, see a doctor. 

Don’t Talk About Your Injuries On Social Media

In this day and age, more people are on the Internet and sharing their lives. What you say on social media about your injuries could affect your case. Be mindful of anything you post online that minimizes your injuries or could conflict with your medical records or what you have told the insurance company. In fact, it’s best not to discuss your injuries with anyone other than your doctor and your attorney. After an accident, you may want to announce to your loved ones who are concerned that you are seeking treatment for your injuries. You can ask us at Grossman Law Offices if you have any questions about what you should and should not say online.

File Your Claim

Many insurance companies require that policyholders file their claims within 24 to 48 hours. You will need to review your policy in order to know what your time limit is, but it’s generally encouraged for victims to file as soon as possible. A delayed filing will usually not affect your claim unless you are beyond the statute of limitations.

Call Grossman Law Office

Hiring an attorney, you can start on your case early, is one of the best ways to start a personal injury case. We have represented accident victims from all over California. If you have been injured in a bus accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or car accident, then call us. We have won millions of dollars for our clients in settlements.