A low impact accident, low speed collision, or “fender-bender” is when two vehicles hit each other at speeds less than 10 MPH.
Typically, fender-bender accidents are dismissed as being minor and insignificant collisions. However, in some cases, fender-benders can cause damage, and can also lead to bodily injuries.
Imagine if you will that you are stuck in gridlock on your way home from work. You inch your car forward, but the vehicle behind you goes to far and rear-ends you.
While the impact of a ow speed accident like that is slight, there is still the risk of soft tissue injury like whiplash which can affect your ability to work. There is also the risk that the insurance company will try to deny your claim.
Therefore, there are times when filing a claim with an insurance company is appropriate, and times when hiring an attorney for legal representation throughout the process is advised.
Causes of low speed collisions
Fender-bender accidents are one of the most common accident types, and occur for myriad reasons. Some of the most common causes of fender-benders include:
- texting or using a mobile application while driving;
- talking on a cellphone;
- looking at something other than the road/objects ahead;
- backing up without checking mirrors first;
- operating a vehicle while impaired or intoxicated; and
- following too closely.
While speeding is a leading cause of many other accident types, typically, a fender-bender crash is not caused by speeding. When speed is involved in a car accident, the crash is usually much more serious than just a fender-bender. In all fender-bender crashes, however, negligence of one of the drivers is usually to blame.
In some cases, negligence of a third party may be the cause. For example, if a fender-bender occurs because of defective brakes, then the brake manufacturer may be at fault. Or, if a fender-bender occurs because of a road defect, such as a pothole, then the party responsible for maintaining the road (for example, a city or state department of transportation) may be to blame.
Do I need an attorney for a fender-bender crash?
This really depends on the severity of the collision, and the party at fault. If you think that you were at fault, you should contact an attorney.
A fender-bender may cause property damage to a vehicle, particularly on the hood of a car or the bumpers, or scrapes or dents along the side. If you suffer damages in a fender-bender accident, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver.
A fender-bender can also cause bodily injuries. Injuries vary depending upon the force of impact involved, whether or not drivers/passengers were buckled at the time of collision, and the angle of impact, and include:
- Soft tissues injuries (for example, whiplash, which is very common in rear-end crashes, and rear-end crashes are one of the most frequent types of fender-benders);
- Facial injuries, which may be incurred when airbags explode;
- Seatbelt related injuries;
- Medical expenses;
- Psychological injuries; and
- Pain and suffering.
When you suffer damages and file a claim with an insurance company following a fender-bender crash, you should expect the insurance company to settle your claim and pay you the compensation award that you deserve. This is the reason to have insurance after all.
Unfortunately, this is not always how it works:
- The insurance company may deny your claim based on allegations that you caused the accident (rather than the other driver) and are therefore ineligible for compensation.
- The insurance company may also deny your claim based on disputes about the extent of damages you suffered.
- Or the insurance company could low ball your claim, offering you less than you deserve in an attempt to save the insurance company money.
- Finally, the insurance company could offer a quick settlement for a lower amount hoping that you accept before the full extent of your losses is known.
The above situations involving an insurance company are becoming increasingly common. If you case or your claim have any particular complexities, for example, if there were multiple parties involved or your injuries and damages are particularly severe, hiring an attorney is advisable.
Can I file a lawsuit?
Filing a lawsuit following a fender-bender collision is rare. However, drivers who are not at fault for collisions are allowed to file a lawsuit against the at fault driver after a crash.
Before you consider litigation:
- Lawsuits are not filed until after settlement negotiations with an insurance company have been finalized;
- Filing a lawsuit is typically not worth it unless your losses are significant, because lawsuits can take a lot of time and can be expensive to pursue; and
- Filing a lawsuit is a legally intensive undertaking, and requires comprehensive knowledge of myriad laws associated with your claim.