Lyons Snyder & Collin. Trial Attorneys.


I got into a “minor” car accident; Should I call a Personal Injury Attorney?

By Philip M. Snyder

I got into a “minor car accident”; Should I call a Personal Injury Attorney?

As a legal intern at a Fort Lauderdale personal injury firm, I am oftentimes asked by family and friends whether to contact an personal injury lawyer after a “minor” car accident.  My answer is always YES!

Generally, when a person is involved in a major car accident with obvious injuries they know that one of the first things they need do is contact a personal injury attorney.  What many people don’t know is that even a “minor” car accident can cause any number of different, significant injuries.  Many injuries sustained in car accidents are obvious right away such as bleeding, broken bones, and the inability to walk; however, some injuries are not.  Brain injuries, memory loss, spinal disc injuries, and muscle tears are a few examples of injuries often sustained in car accidents that can take days or longer to set in.  As a result of the trauma to your body that occurs during an accident you might not know right away that you have been injured.  This is why it is so essential to immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal (and medical) options.

Back injuries (oftentimes referred to as “soft tissue injuries”) are among the most common injuries suffered as a result of automobile accidents.  Even an accident perceived as “minor” because it was low impact or there were no visible injuries has the potential to cause debilitating long-term injuries.  The back is made up of soft tissue, injuries to which can be easily overlooked because they often occur in accidents that appear minor, and symptoms may not appear until several days later. Oftentimes, soft tissue injuries do not appear until 3 or 4 days after the accident.  Signs of soft tissue injury include muscle soreness or stiffness, bruising, numbness or tingling.  People who have suffered a back injury sometimes have trouble sleeping, standing, bending, and lifting objects.  Common back injuries that car accident victims suffer from are bulging discs and herniated discs, also known as slipped or ruptured discs.    Herniated discs are considered permanent injuries and oftentimes require surgery.  Bulging discs (although considered less significant than herniated discs) can place enormous pressure on the nerves in the spinal column and cause radicular pain (or radiating pain) down to your extremities.

A neck injury is another type of injury that is often suffered in a car accident.   Immediately after a “minor” car accident, people often feel something in their necks that they typically describe as whiplash.  In the days following the car accident, people will often feel soreness, have headaches, and may even have trouble sleeping and standing.  This injury, which many people disregard, is essentially a neck sprain, and the severity of that sprain can vary greatly.   In an accident where severe whiplash occurs, there may be damage to the spine or spinal cord, as well as other severe injuries such as a herniated or bulging disc.

Another common type of injury sustained in a car accident that is very serious and often not diagnosed is a head injury.  These injuries, which at first seem minor and result in no immediate pain or other symptoms, can turn out to actually be life threatening.  Head injuries range from minor concussions all the way to fractured skulls and other traumatic brain injuries, and the injured party is often unaware of these injuries.  No matter how minor a car accident may seem, the brain might have been juggled around which could result in further injuries.

Many serious injuries can take time to show up after a car accident which is one of the reasons getting medical treatment and contacting an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options after any type of car accident is essential in protecting your well-being.  Many people don’t realize immediately after the car accident that they only have a limited amount of time in which to get medical treatment if they want benefits from their PIP coverage.  A car accident victim only has fourteen (14 days) to seek medical treatment after a car accident to be eligible for PIP.  In addition, insurance companies are not your friends, and will use your statement following the accident against you if you inform them that you feel “fine” or are not injured.  These statements can make it more difficult for you in the future if you were to need compensation for your injuries.

Even if you don’t think that you have any significant injuries you should still contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal and medical options.  The consultations are FREE – There is no obligation.   Not speaking with an attorney specializing in accidents could result in severe and long lasting consequences that affect every aspect of your daily life.

Special thanks to Courtney Steiger, 3rd Year Nova Law Student, for contributing to this post.