Every day, auto accidents are occurring all around Orlando. In fact, if you are reading this, there is a great probability you have been involved in an accident yourself. A large portion of the of car crashes, however, are what we might call “minor fender benders” or small impacts. These are accidents where maybe you were hit from behind while stopped at a light. Your car, at first glance, does not show a bunch of damage. Just because your car isn’t a total loss or maybe can be driven off from the scene does NOT mean you might not have sustained a legitimate injury. It frustrates me, when dealing with insurance companies, to hear an adjuster use the damage of a vehicle to assess the validity or severity of what an injury “should be”.
I had a client who was involved in one of “these” accidents where she was hit from behind while waiting, stopped, at a red light. The at fault party was a young boy that was distracted and looked up right before he hit her. Now, he wasn’t driving at a high rate of speed, but hit her car with some force. Her car was hit hard enough to spill drinks, throw items off of seats and push her knee into the dashboard. Upon inspection of her vehicle, an older model Nissan Maxima, there was not a lot of visible damage to the rear of the car. She ended up needing surgery for her knee for a crushing injury sustained as a direct result of the accident. The insurance company put up a big fight.
The issue here is that from the perspective of her symptoms, she did feel ok a few days after the accident, but her functionality was not ok. It is within these first few days that many injured victims are contacted by the at fault insurance company and agree to monetary settlements because they are feeling ok. Unfortunately, they are unaware of the actual injuries that might not be ascertainable yet.
Injuries do not just occur in big hefty accidents, in most cases, they appear just as often in these accidents, where there is little damage to the vehicle. Would you believe that in many cases when there is little damage to the car there is generally more damage to the driver and passengers. This is the explanation as to why many cars have crumple zones, allowing the majority of the force from the impact to be absorbed by the car instead of you.
Believe me, injuries can happen in accidents that occur while going less than 5 mph, so just because the car does not have any damage does not mean you did not suffer an injury. You see, when you are involved in an accident or trauma, your body is rather amazing, and your brain communicates with your body informing your muscles and joints to take it easy so as not to further injury what is already injured. This dysfunctional or abnormal movement of your muscles and joints can cause long lasting complications and many times, you are not even aware that your body is compensating like this after a trauma.
Our normal reaction is to either “take it easy” or jump back into our normal routine because we just don’t have the time to rest. So, you have been in involved in a motor vehicle accident and are a little achy, sore or tense. You look at your car that shows little damage and think, I will be ok. The sad truth is that it is extremely likely you may have neck pain from whiplash injuries, shoulder, chest and low back pains from seat belts, and knee/hip injuries from striking something inside the vehicle. Not addressing these aches and pains and cause a lot of trouble down the road.
Therefore, do NOT let the amount of damage…either visible or on your estimate from the body shop, to dissuade you from visiting your doctor and receiving a full examination. You owe it to yourself to at least have an immediate post-accident workup and let a doctor make the decision as to whether or not you sustained an injury. Visit the ER and receive the peace of mind that a doctor can give you. Additionally, even if you don’t decide to hire an attorney and handle the accident yourself, don’t sign anything from the at fault insurance company until you know the true of extent of any injuries you might have sustained.