One might assume that low-speed car accidents cannot cause significant injuries, but they can be quite dangerous. These kinds of crashes happen at speeds of under 10 miles an hour, and although the vehicles have little damage in most cases, the chance for bodily harm is very real. Examples of these kinds of accidents include a car rear-ending another one at a stop sign, and a vehicle colliding with another while backing out of a parking spot. Sometimes the injuries are immediately apparent, and in other cases they show up shortly thereafter. In either event, contact a skilled car accident lawyer to review the facts of your case and pursue any due compensation for your injuries.
Low-Speed Car Accident Injuries
Two of the most common kinds of low-speed car accident injuries are whiplash and neck injuries. Even if a car is traveling at only five miles per hour, that sudden rear impact can cause an occupant’s neck to whip forward with the force. Whiplash can happen to the passengers in the front at a higher acceleration than the speed of the car in back. If the headrest is in the wrong position, these injuries can be even worse, so it is very important to always keep yours in the proper position. Move it up if you are taller, and lower if the headrest is not in the right position. Many people pay no attention to their headrests, but a simple adjustment could protect you from an injury or even save your life.
Other Kinds of Low-Speed Injuries
Low-speed crashes can also lead to serious fractures, shoulder injuries, and jaw injuries like TMJ. Any of these might require involved procedures, surgeries, and long-term recoveries. In some cases, they can even cause serious or fatal brain injuries. We know that a driver or passenger’s head often strikes the steering wheel, dashboard or another part of the car in a high-speed accident, but with slow-speeds the risk lies with the force of impact causing the brain to move around in the skull – the momentum can force it forward and backwards, and this is called “coup contrecoup.” This is an injury that involves bruising to the brain. It can cause it to swell with blood, putting pressure on tissues and depriving them of the oxygen they need to function.
Every collision is different, and not all people injured in these kinds of accidents experience the same problems. People impacted by low speed crashes can also suffer other kinds of soft-tissue neck injuries as well as herniated disks. Any of these can cause weakness, chronic pain, reduced function, numbness, or tingling. Lower back injuries can also occur when that part of the body gets jerked back and forth and slams against a seat – this can cause rib bruises and sprains, too. The symptoms from these injuries can last for days, weeks, months, even years. If the injured person had pre-existing conditions – including a previous neck or back injury – the resulting injuries could be even worse.
What Should I Do After a Low-Speed Accident?
Even if you feel fine after the accident and/or others involved are telling you that it is no big deal, you will want to be evaluated by a medical professional after a low-speed accident. The pain of whiplash might be very obvious, but a traumatic brain injury or other internal injuries could take a while to present symptoms.
Immediately following the crash, take a few moments to calm down and gather your thoughts, and call for emergency assistance. Once help arrives, they will take charge of the situation, ask questions and gather contact information. Make sure that you get a copy of the police report afterwards but know that this can take up to a week. Exchange information with the other vehicle’s driver, making sure that you get their name, number, license plate number and insurance information. The emergency response team will want to know if you want to have an ambulance to take you to the hospital. This is not always necessary, but it is safest to have someone else drive you.
Take photos of everything at the scene – the other driver’s license, insurance card, all the vehicles involved, weather conditions, and anything else that might be used as evidence later. If there are any witnesses, reach out to them as well. Now is also the time to call your insurance company to tell them about the crash but do not admit any guilt. Provide clear, basic information without going into detail.
The Importance of Getting a Medical Evaluation
You may experience symptoms right after the crash and may or may not realize that how you are feeling is directly related to what happened. There might be a little bit of neck, shoulder, back, or neck pain and stiffness or a headache at first. Symptoms like dizziness, memory problems, irritability and an inability to focus might be passed off as post-accident stress, but ignoring them could be unwise.
After the accident, get to a medical facility as soon as possible. Waiting is never a good idea for two main reasons: first of all, your symptoms could worsen without timely treatment, and you could find yourself facing a longer recovery time. The second reason is that insurance companies are known to deny claims when people wait too long to get seen. Their theory is that if the person did not seek out immediate medical treatment, the injuries must not have been that serious.
Once you have been evaluated and possibly treated, take your vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection. Just like the low-speed injuries sustained by your body, the damages to your car or truck might not be immediately apparent. Instead of being on the exterior where you can see them, there might be problems elsewhere, including the bumper mounts and shock absorbers. Be sure to get an estimate and if the car is safe and drivable, wait until you hear back from the insurance company before having repairs done.
What If My Insurance Companies Denies My Claim?
Since most people do not associate low speed accidents with serious injuries, it follows that auto insurance companies might be more likely to deny your claim. If they don’t see obvious issues like broken bones and spinal cord injuries, they could decide that you were not hurt badly enough to receive compensation. Or, the damages they offer could be significantly less than what you are legally entitled to.
Another problem with these claims is that people have and will continue to fake whiplash injuries. Whiplash injuries are not visible to the naked eye and can be hard to diagnose. On top of that, television and movie actors have often played characters faking these injuries in court, giving whiplash a bad reputation.
To strengthen your claim, be sure not to miss any of your appointments, procedures, therapy sessions, or treatment programs. Fill all your prescription medications and follow your physician’s orders. Keep accurate records of all your expenses, including gas for driving to appointments, co-pays, everything. If you find that you need legal assistance with your claim, an experienced car accident lawyer can help.
The Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers from Ellis Law Help Survivors of Low-Speed Car Accidents
If you’ve been endured pain and suffering from a low-speed car accident, get in touch with the knowledgeable Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. Call our Freehold, New Jersey office at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.