A fender bender, by definition, is a minor accident. But even a minor accident can cause a serious injury. A person hurt in any car crash that is not their fault has a right to compensation for their injuries, even if the car is barely damaged.
Image by Canva.com
Some injuries are not as noticeable as a broken bone or a cut, and a victim will not always feel symptoms right away. For this reason, drivers should treat fender benders as seriously as any other accident. Doing so can start the process of getting compensation if they have sustained injuries. And if they are in fact okay, there is no harm in being cautious.
Is Your Accident Considered a Fender Bender?
Fender benders are typically low-speed collisions where one or both cars end up with minimal damage. “Fender bender” is not a technical term, though, and there is no minimum threshold of damage that separates it from any other type of crash. More importantly, the term only refers to damage to the vehicles, not to the people inside. The occupants can be seriously hurt, even if the cars are not.
Two common situations that result in fender benders are rear-end collisions and parking lot mishaps.
Rear-end collision. A driver might bump the car in front of them at a stoplight or stop sign. That bump could result in nothing more than a scuff on the bumper, especially if they are already slowing to a stop and simply misjudging the distance between cars. The faster the moving car is going, the more severe the impact and the damage to the stopped car—and the potential for injuries.
Parking lot mishap. A lot of fender benders happen in parking lots. The right-of-way is not always clear, cars back in and out of cramped spaces, and visibility is not ideal. If cars move slowly, the chance of damage and injuries is minimal. But consider this: Say a driver parks the car, removes the seatbelt, and pauses before exiting. An airbag will not inflate if a car is shut off. If the car is hit hard enough, the person in the parked car could sustain serious injuries.
Types of Personal Injuries in a Fender Bender
It can be easy to miss the signs of a serious injury in a fender bender. The vehicles do not have significant damage, so bystanders and even the drivers and passengers might assume there is nothing to worry about. Plus, adrenaline will often kick in because of the chaos and shock of a crash, delaying pain until things calm down.
But a car is far tougher than the human body, and even a minor impact can hurt people inside. They may be thrown against the steering wheel, dashboard, windows, or doors. Or they might be forcefully shaken or jerked back and forth. The following serious injuries are possible, even in a fender bender:
Cuts and bruises
Sprains and strains
Soft tissue injuries
Neck, back, or shoulder pain
Concussion or traumatic brain injuries
Airbag injuries such as a broken nose or wrist
Dizziness, confusion, nausea or vomiting, and headache are all worrisome symptoms that can indicate a serious injury. Victims should seek immediate attention.
A fender bender likely will not merit calling an ambulance, but if medical assistance is offered, it is best to get checked out. First responders can treat cuts or broken bones and assess if there might be additional injuries. If no on-site assistance is offered, it is best to see a physician as soon as possible to diagnose and treat any possible problems.
If there is an injury, early attention is key to starting the documentation necessary to file an insurance claim and receive compensation for treatment.
Image by Canva.com
Reporting a Fender Bender in New Mexico
Just as an ambulance might not be necessary after a fender bender, the drivers might not need to call the police to the scene either. In New Mexico, however, those involved in a crash are still required by law to report the incident if it resulted in bodily injury or death, or if there was property damage of $500 or more. Depending on where the accident happened, drivers should contact the local police (within a municipality), county sheriff, or the New Mexico State Police (if outside city limits).
This statute covers fender benders as well as more severe crashes because of the possibility of personal injury. Plus, even minor damage can cost more than $500 to fix. According to Consumer Insurance Report, for example, just one deep scratch in a bumper runs $300 to $600. It is best to err on the side of caution and report the incident, just in case injuries present later or the auto repair bills add up.
Another important reason to report the accident is to establish clear documentation of what happened for an insurance claim. This is especially important when the other driver is at fault. The at-fault driver (or their insurance company) is responsible for compensating a victim for their injuries. Even in something minor like a fender bender, a victim must prove the other driver was careless or negligent.
Getting Compensation for Your Fender Bender Injury
Just because a fender bender might not seem serious, that does not mean that a victim can’t suffer injuries that are painful and expensive. Whiplash from a rear-end collision can cause pain and require physical therapy and medical equipment like a neck brace. Hitting one’s head can result in a traumatic brain injury that causes migraines, loss of cognitive function, or makes it difficult to concentrate. These injuries can interfere with everyday life.
Victims of these types of personal injuries deserve compensation when the accident was not their fault. This can include emergency and ongoing medical care, doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, pain medicine, medical equipment, or surgery. If the victim misses work, they are due lost wages. For debilitating injuries that are life-altering pain, suffering, and mental anguish may be part of a compensation request.
Insurance companies might look at the damage in a fender bender and dismiss the idea that any injuries were serious. This is why it is so important to document an accident as thoroughly as possible immediately after it happens. Collect information and evidence at the scene by taking pictures and talking to witnesses. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and keep all records. And, if you are living in or visiting New Mexico, contact Kane Personal Injury.
Even a fender bender can be chaotic and upsetting. The Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane P.A. will assist in filing police reports and insurance claims. Our attorneys can make sure that any settlement offered includes full and fair compensation. We will be with you every step of the way to get the best possible resolution to your case.
Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.