Why Minor Injuries May Not Be So Minor: Our Insight on Minor Injuries

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: December 21, 2021

What is considered a minor injury? Minor injuries do not involve broken bones, surgery or hospitalization. Soft tissue injuries such as strains, sprains and contusions are examples of minor injuries. At this level, people often neglect to seek experienced medical attention or legal advice if the injury was caused by an auto accident. But “minor” accidents or injuries may be more serious than you think.

Minor accidents/injuries are the level at which insurance companies work hardest against your interests. They are in a big hurry for you to settle. But injuries can worsen over time. If you are too quick to characterize your injuries as minor, it’s very easy to damage the value of your case. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Remember that you might have to face future medical treatment or procedures for your injury, and if you settle early, the insurance company won’t compensate you for medical costs.

At Zanes Law, we believe there is no such thing as an insignificant accident or injury because every type of accident or injury may impact your life in some way. With a minor accident/minor injury you can expect the following:

  1. Obtaining medical treatment
  2. Consulting with insurance companies
  3. In some situations, missing work and changing important plans

You are every bit as legally entitled to recover financially for a “minor” injury as you are for a major one when someone else is at fault for your car accident.When you’ve suffered a minor injury, you may be thankful that the injury wasn’t worse, but the accident still disrupts your life for a period of time and can have unforeseen complications. Remember that you have options, and you should know about them.

Do Not Try to Be Tough After an Accident: Get Help

There is a human instinct to act like everything is alright after a minor accident. People do not want to admit that they have injuries if it is not serious. They may feel weak if they seek medical treatment for what they think is a minor injury. People might try to “tough it out” because they feel like that is what they are supposed to do after an accident.

Alternatively, accident victims may feel that they do not want to be bothered with obtaining medical treatment. After all, it takes time out of one’s day to go to see the doctor. They may need to follow up with more trips to other doctors. People just may think that their injuries will go away over time, or they do not need a doctor to address them. This does not change that you sustained injuries.

You Need a Clean Bill of Health from a Physician

The truth is that you are never really okay after a car accident until you get a clean bill of health from a doctor. You never know what may be happening in your body undetected. Many people who did not require treatment at the accident scene begin to feel some discomfort or symptoms in the days after the accident. Even if you turned down treatment at the scene, you should take the time to take care of your health in the days after the crash.

Many accident victims think that they are fine after the accident and later realize that something is wrong. By then, the damage has already gotten worse in your body. Besides, there is no need to suffer if a visit to the doctor will help you physically. It makes sense to get medical help to learn about your medical situation rather than draw assumptions about your condition. An assumption can cost you valuable treatment time that can prevent an injury from growing worse.

Undetected Car Accident Injuries that Can Cause Severe Damage

Several accident injuries can initially go undetected but grow worse over time.

We will touch on each in more detail below:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Internal injuries

Traumatic Brain Injuries After a Car Accident

These can begin with whiplash that has happened in a rear-end car accident. The head can snap forward, and the brain can move inside of the head. Alternatively, the airbag can deploy, and your head can forcefully hit the airbag. This can happen even in a car accident that you think is minor.

Traumatic brain injuries do not always show symptoms right away. You may not even notice symptoms for weeks or months afterward when you do not feel like yourself. In the meantime, the injury can be getting worse when it is left untreated. This can show up on a scan in the days following an accident.

Sometimes, even victims who have been in what seemed to be a minor accident can suffer a TBI. The lifetime costs of treating a TBI start at $85,000. They can reach several million dollars. In reality, there is no such thing as a minor TBI, and it makes sense to get diagnosed and treated to rule one out. If you have suffered one, you should never settle your case until you know and understand the full extent of your injuries.

Signs that You May Have Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury

Here are some of the symptoms that can be signs of a TBI:

  • Confusion
  • Irritation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Depression

Many people who suffer from a TBI can’t work again or to their full extent after the accident. While some people can make a full recovery, the quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances of getting better.

Neck and Back Injuries

These are also common car accident injuries that do not always show symptoms after a car accident. The fact that your head can snap back and forth in a car accident can cause serious injury.

Some neck or back injuries that may not always be detectable right after a car accident include:

  • Lumbar sprains – these are lower back injuries caused by the sudden motion of a car accident.
  • Lumbar spine injuries
  • Spinal stenosis – this narrowing of the channel that houses the spinal cord will get worse over time.
  • Herniated discs – the force of a car accident can compress vertebrae or take them out of proper alignment. This injury often requires surgery, and doctors do not always fix the problem on the first attempt.
  • Thoracic spine injuries – injuries in the middle to upper back include fractures and herniated discs.
  • Facet joint injuries – these are also injuries that will grow worse over time if they are untreated.

Delayed back pain after a car accident is very common. Sometimes, it makes sense to pay a preventative visit to a doctor to make sure that nothing is wrong with your neck or back.

Internal Injuries in a Car Accident

These are perhaps the most serious undetected car accident injuries that can be life-threatening. You can be bleeding inside your body, or there can be damage to your internal organs, and you may not even know it. Many of these injuries can require immediate surgery to stabilize the patient. Left untreated, they can cause long-term health damage or even death.

Internal injuries can occur from a seatbelt or an airbag. Any type of car accident impact can cause internal injury.

Some common car accident internal injuries are:

  • Collapsed Lungs When you suffer broken ribs, they may pierce and collapse the lung. If you have any difficulty breathing after a car accident, this may be the cause.
  • Organ Damage – Impact in high-speed crashes can damage the internal organs. An accident victim can suffer injuries due to things like a seatbelt, steering wheel, or airbag.
  • Internal Bleeding – The same impact that can damage the organs can cause bleeding internally, as the body is cut and bruised on the inside. Left untreated, this problem can get worse and not heal itself.
  • Ruptured Spleen Crashes with any impact can cause a ruptured spleen. The effect of this is internal bleeding that needs treatment.

Personnel at the scene usually focus on the injuries that they see. They cannot detect internal injuries. Therefore, if you were treated at the scene and released, you may still need medical attention.

Many car accident victims have felt fine in the days following the accident. Over time, they begin to feel some symptoms. They may not even connect them to their car accident. This is not to say that accident victims are at fault when they have delayed symptoms. It just means that they need proactively monitor their medical situations.

Insurance Companies May Make it Tough After a Minor Car Accident

Minor accidents/injury cases are when insurance companies work hardest against your interests. They are in a big hurry for you to settle. But injuries can worsen over time. If you are too quick to characterize your injuries as minor, it’s very easy to damage the value of your case. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Remember that you might have to face future medical treatment or procedures for your injury, and if you settle early, the insurance company won’t compensate you for medical costs.

Insurance Companies Like to Classify More Major Claims as Minor

When there are smaller amounts at stake, the insurance company is banking on the fact that you will be happy to accept whatever offer you receive.

Consider these factors:

  • The insurance company does not get the right to say that something is small when it is larger. You should not just believe their characterization of your accident as minor. They may describe a more major accident as minor to sweep it under the rug and try to settle it quickly.
  • Even if the case is not a high-dollar value claim, you are still talking about real money. Even a claim underpayment of several thousand dollars is still money out of your pocket that you deserved. You should not let the insurance company get away with it.

Medical Treatment Alone Makes Your Claim More Valuable

If your car accident injury requires any sort of medical treatment, the chances are that your claim is already worth well into the thousands of dollars. There is very little chance that medical tests and treatment will not result in charges that can reach into the five figures. Medical care is expensive and getting more so by the day. Even what you may think is a minor back problem or sprain can require costly care. Any visit to the emergency room will cost at least thousands of dollars and possibly more.

Do Not Overlook Any Car Accident

Every car accident is a serious event, no matter how minor you think it is. You need a lawyer who gives you the same commitment. Medical bills and property damage are significant financial matters to you, regardless of how much money you make or have saved. This can be something very serious in the course of your life, and it needs to be treated as such.

Besides, you cannot file a claim for a minor injury before you know the full extent of the situation. This is what you get with a diagnosis from a doctor. You will have the damages in writing on paper as part of your medical file to include in your insurance claim. Without that, the insurance company will not take your claim seriously.

At Zanes Law, we believe there is no such thing as an insignificant accident or injury because every type of accident or injury may impact your life in some way.

With a minor accident/minor injury, you can expect:

  1. Medical treatment
  2. Consulting with lawyers and insurance companies
  3. In some situations, missing work and changing important plans

Do Not Make Things Worse By Waiting Too Long to Get Medical Care

It is important to get a clean bill of health after an accident. Except for the most minor of dings and fender benders, you should at least see a doctor in the days following an accident. If you wait too long to get medical care after an accident, an insurance company can accuse you of making your problems worse by failing to take action, you have a legal duty to mitigate your damages, and that includes going to see a doctor.

When you’ve suffered a minor injury, you may be thankful that the injury wasn’t worse, but the accident still disrupts your life for some time and can have unforeseen complications. Remember that you have options, and you should know about them. Nonetheless, the description of your injury as “minor” should only come from a doctor. You should not be in the position of making that determination yourself.

You Also Need to Call a Lawyer After Every Car Accident

The other thing that people may not do after what they think is a minor car accident is to call a lawyer. This is another big mistake. Remember, the only thing that is characterizing your car accident as minor is your own opinion. You may have a possible claim for compensation that you are foregoing because you never took any action. Let a lawyer decide whether your car accident is minor

Consulting a lawyer will not cost you anything. The worst that happens is that a lawyer tells you that you can’t do anything legally, but that is rarely the case. If someone else was at fault and you suffered any type of damage, there is always something that you can do.

In that event, all it costs you is the time to speak with an attorney. It beats the alternative of frittering away a valuable claim because you assumed that you had no legal options. Then, you have left money on the table, and the other driver gets away with their negligence.

You Have No Financial Risk in Calling a Lawyer After a Car Accident

We will not ask you for payment for a consultation, and you will not get a bill in the mail afterward. However, you will get the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are doing everything that you can to understand your legal options. Even if you have no case in the end, you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have not left any money on the table.

If you have been injured in a car accident, even if you believe it to be minor, we encourage you to see your doctor (if you feel any pain) to get checked out and consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you consider your options.

Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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