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A fender bender accident happens when the car behind you nips your bumper or your car accidentally hits the fender of a car in the parking lot. These are classified as minor accidents and most of the time, the parties involved settle from their own pockets without involving their insurance companies or the police.
In fender bender accidents, the damage to the car is very minimal and affordable. For those involved, making a one-time settlement is the easiest solution for everybody. That may be true if the car was the only thing damaged, but what if you did sustain injuries but you were not aware of it at that time? Now you’re stuck with the medical bills, and at worst, the injury will have long term effects that will prevent you from working. Some people may argue that since the damage is small, reporting it to the police or insurance company will just be a waste of time and might even raise insurance premiums. But you cannot assess the damage or injury just by looking at the state of the vehicles at the time of the accident – and you cannot assume that a damage or injury will not present itself in the near future. To protect yourself, report an accident to the police and to your insurance company.
There is a myth that you cannot be injured in a fender bender accident. Yes, the car may be built to withstand low impact collisions, but your body is not. An example of an injury that you can sustain from a fender bender is whiplash.
Whiplash is what happens when your head and neck snaps back and forth during an impact. In more serious accidents, this is often a cause of death from spinal injuries. Whiplash happens so fast that you’re not even aware of it. Sometimes the symptoms are felt only after a couple of days and in some cases in a few weeks. So, you might think that you are not hurt, until you feel the pain. It is more than just a pain and stiffness in the neck – it can also cause headaches, numbness, dizziness and shoulder pains. The severity differs and some recover from whiplash within a few weeks, but those with severe cases may take months or even years, and will require physical therapy to recover completely.
In a tort state like California, the driver at fault will use his insurance to pay for your medical bills and other related damages. The police report is important in establishing who’s at fault, but it is not definitive.
If you suffered an injury, the good news is that you can file a claim without a police report and it will still be a valid claim. It will be up to you to prove that the other driver was at fault. This can be done by calling in credible witnesses who can prove your claims, and by presenting your medical records. At this point, it is imperative that you hire a personal injury lawyer before you file a claim. A lawyer can guide you through the complicated process and increase your chances of being properly compensated for the injuries you sustained.
In 2011, California reported a 2.6% increase in fatalities due to traffic accidents. 159,115 people sustained injuries. On average, a traffic collision was reported every 3 minutes and 1 person was injured due to a collision. For each person killed, 80 persons were injured.
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