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Major Car Accident vs Minor Car Accident

May 29, 2023

No one expects an accident, but car accidents happen every day, including over 8,000 car accidents in Seattle alone in 2022.

Distracted driving, intoxicated driving, and failure to follow traffic laws are the main contributors to the upward trend of traffic accidents in Washington. When a crash seems relatively minor, some accident victims may wonder if it’s worth filing a claim. Before you make that decision, it helps to have a deeper insight into the difference between a major car accident and a minor one, as well as what isn’t different about the claim process for both.

Major Car Accident vs Minor Car Accident

What is a Major Car Accident?

A major car accident is one in which one or more vehicles sustain major damage or become totaled. These often involve a car that flips, rolls, or becomes significantly crushed and dented. The driver and passengers in a major car accident may have serious injuries that take significant medical treatments and long recovery times. In some cases, victims of major car accidents may have catastrophic injuries. These are life-altering injuries such as traumatic brain damage, multiple fractures, lost limbs, or damage to the spinal cord. Some may leave the victim with permanent disabilities that impact their ability to earn a living or perform daily routines.

What is a Minor Car Accident?

A minor car accident is a step above a parking lot fender-bender and typically involves at least minor damage to a vehicle. Rear-end collisions are typically minor car accidents. In many cases, the injury victim may not immediately recognize that they’ve sustained an injury after a minor car accident. Whiplash is a common complaint after a minor car accident, but it often doesn’t manifest symptoms until days or weeks after the initial accident. Whiplash occurs when the head snaps suddenly back and forth on the neck due to an impact or sudden braking, causing damage to the tiny vertebrae and soft tissue of the neck. As inflammation builds after the accident, the symptoms may manifest as a painfully stiff neck, headache, and sometimes problems with balance, mood, and other symptoms.

When Should I File a Car Accident Claim?

Washington’s insurance law operates under a fault-based system, requiring accident victims to prove liability on the part of the person at fault in a car accident. It’s best to file a claim as soon as you understand the scope of the property damage and your injuries. By seeking a medical evaluation right away after a minor car accident, you can tell a doctor about symptoms that may seem relatively minor—including neck pain. It’s important to have your evaluation on record in case your symptoms progress and you require compensation for an injury that could require medical treatment and time off from work.

Back injuries and soft tissue damage to the wrists and ankles, knees, and elbows are also common after car accidents, even when the accident was minor.

Whether you have a major or minor car accident, it’s important to file a police report and have a full medical evaluation so you can file a claim for compensation if you later develop worsening symptoms and lose time from work.

Damages Recovered From a Car Accident Claim

A successful claim after a major or minor car accident can recover compensation for damages such as the following:

  • Medical expenses and future medical expenses related to the injury
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity if a major accident causes disability
  • Pain and suffering and other appropriate non-economic damages like disfigurement, loss of limb, trauma, and loss of pleasure in life after a major car accident

An experienced car accident lawyer in Seattle can help you recover economically while you focus your energy on maximizing your physical recovery after an accident of any severity, whether major or minor.

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