D.R. Patti & Associates

Is It Worth Getting A Lawyer For A Minor Car Accident?

Should I Get A Lawyer For A Minor Car Accident?

The simple answer is yes. It’s even more important to hire a personal injury lawyer for a “minor” car accident than it is for a major car accident. Why? It’s because insurance companies tend to aggressively fight “minor” car accident claims. Auto insurers tend to argue that car accidents with little damage to the car can’t injure the persons inside the car. To a person who is not represented by an attorney, an insurance company may make extremely low offers, if any. Many times, an insurance company may not even offer anything without a lawsuit. Thus, those injured in what could be considered a “minor” car accident need the help of a skilled trial attorney with extensive personal injury experience to prove their case and obtain maximum compensation. The car accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates have litigated, settled, and won cases involving so-called “minor” impacts.

What is considered a “minor” car accident?

Generally, a “minor” car accident is where the damage is not extensive. While there is no fixed set threshold amount for property damage to be considered minor, damage that costs less than a couple of thousand dollars to fix will tend to be viewed as a minor crash. Usually, auto insurers look at whether the crash involved low speed. What is considered low speed? Generally, insurance companies will argue that speeds less than 10 mph, even sometimes less than 15 or 20 mph, won’t be enough to cause injuries. These are but myths spread by insurance companies to deter otherwise legitimate claims.

Of course, not all damage to a car can be seen at first glance. Just a visual assessment of the damage to a car may not reveal how bad an impact was. A lot of damage, even serious ones, can be hidden. Damage that is usually not visible until the car is torn down include frame damage and damage to the reinforcement bar that is behind the bumper.

Minor Impact Soft Tissue Injuries

In Nevada, low property damage equates to low offers and a take it or leave it attitude from insurance companies.  Such cases have often been categorized as MIST cases—Minor Impact Soft Tissue injury cases. Insurance companies equate minor property damage with low impact, as part of their “delay, deny, defend” strategy. They developed this strategy in the mid-1990s as a way to increase their profits. By taking a hardline approach, insurance companies made the car accident cases with less property damage more expensive and more time-consuming to fight. They take this approach regardless of whether the accident victim is an eggshell plaintiff or how other extenuating circumstances. An eggshell plaintiff is someone who is more susceptible to injury. The insurance company’s goal is to deter MIST or claims for personal injuries based on low property damages.

Can A “Minor” Accident Cause Injuries?

Even low speed crashes can cause injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, and spinal injuries. In fact, according to authors Croft and Freeman, there is little correlation between vehicle damage and the extent of injury. A low speed crash can still produce about 10-10 g of acceleration on a person’s head.

The amount of property damage is just but one factor to consider in assessing whether someone can be injured in a car accident. Other factors to consider are the type of vehicle, the age of the claimant, that person’s position at the time of impact, and whether that person is predisposed to injury. For example, a 70 year old woman with degeneration in her spine will respond differently to a low speed crash than an 18 year old. Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, a defendant is liable for “any physical injury they cause, no matter how unforeseeable, once they inflict harm on a plaintiff’s body.” Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1192 (9th Cir. 2002). Thus, denying that someone can be injured based solely on property damage ignores the uniqueness of each individual.

If you or a loved one are facing a lawsuit for injuries you sustained as a result of a car accident in Las Vegas, the experienced trial attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can assist you. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, we can advise and guide you through the process and obtain the best results possible.


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