While you are not required by law to hire a lawyer after a minor or major car accident, it may still be in your best interests to do so. Hidden injuries, or injuries that come on some time after an accident, are reasons you should consider hiring a lawyer to assist you deal with the circumstances surrounding a car accident. The laws around motor vehicle accidents in Queensland are different to other states. As such, there may be confusing elements to the claims process.
Imagine this: you’re driving home after a long day at work. The traffic is moving slowly as you approach the roundabout near your house. As you are waiting to drive through you hear a CRASH and feel a horrible jolt; you’ve been hit by a driver who was on their phone.
As all you want to do is get home, you may just be tempted to quickly swap details with the other driver and leave. This may not be a good decision, even for a minor motor vehicle accident, and we’ll explain why.
You may have suffered unseen injuries
According to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the most recent annual count of hospitalised injuries due to car accidents was over 39,000 people, an annual increase of 3.3% per annum since 2013.
After a minor car accident, however, you may not notice the injuries you’ve suffered for days or even weeks after the fact. In a state of shock after the accident, adrenaline will be pumping and you may believe you are not hurt at all.
These injuries which can onset days later, however, can cause chronic pain in the future and may require long-term treatment and rehabilitation.
At Gouldson, we highly recommend seeing a doctor after any motor vehicle accident, and most definitely immediately after you realise that you are experiencing any sort of pain, loss of pain, loss of sensation, headache or any other unusual symptoms at all. A clean bill of health is the goal, but should your doctor find something below the surface, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Soft tissue injuries
When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, no matter how minor, you risk damaging various soft tissues within your body. Car crashes often carry with them a lot of force, as drivers either travel at speed or hit their brakes quickly. The motion of your head vigorously jerking back and forth may result in whiplash.
According to healthdirect, symptoms of whiplash may not be apparent for 6 to 12 hours after the injury, if at all. Common symptoms of whiplash may include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Swelling or tenderness in the neck
- Temporary loss or reduction of movement in the neck
- Muscle spasms
- Pain in the shoulders or arms.
In the heat of the moment, you may have bumped your head hard on the steering wheel or window but did not notice. Hitting your head on a hard surface may cause concussion.
Healthdirect describes concussion as a traumatic brain injury caused by force to the head.
Symptoms of concussion may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Problems with balance.
What is considered a minor injury in a car accident?
A minor injury sustained in a car accident may include soft-tissue injuries, like strained muscles, sore back or whiplash. Any injury that you might consider minor at the time, left without appropriate treatment, may in fact develop into a major injury with significant consequences. Non-minor injuries, on the other hand, include things like fractured bones, nerve damage or ruptured tendons, the presence of which will be immediately apparent to you at the scene of the accident.
Both minor and non-minor injuries have the potential to impact other parts of your life, like your potential to earn money, ongoing psychological effects or your quality of life, and for this reason it may be important to commence a claim for damages via an expert compensation lawyer.
Should I go to the doctor after a minor car accident?
Yes – absolutely.
No matter how minor you think your accident was, there are several hidden injuries that may not be immediately apparent. For example, the symptoms of whiplash may not be felt for up to 12 hours after the collision.
We recommend for your own safety and ongoing health, to see a doctor after a minor car accident, no matter what kind of symptoms you are experiencing.
What should I do immediately after a car crash?
If you are involved in a car crash, no matter how minor, there are a set number of procedures you should follow immediately after the collision. However, these steps will vary slightly depending on whether the crash was your fault or not your fault.
What to do after a crash
If you’re the not at-fault driver, you may be in a state of shock and stress immediately after the car accident. The important thing is to stay calm and follow these steps:
- Stay calm, turn your car off, stop everything (ensure you are stopped in a safe position) and turn on your hazard lights
- Make sure everybody in your car involved in the accident is safe
- Gather information from the other driver (name and contact details, insurance company and policy number, car details and registration etc.)
- Don’t admit fault
- Gather the contact information of any nearby witnesses
- Take pictures of any damage to your car and the other vehicle/s
- Report the accident to the police
- Call your insurance company
When is it too late to get a lawyer for a car accident?
In Queensland, there are strict time limits that apply to lodgement of car accident injury claims. After you have received medical treatment and advice on any potential treatment required for your injuries, we recommend getting in contact with a lawyer as soon as you can.
For general personal injuries, the time limit you have to notify the other party you are claiming against is:
- Nine months from the date of the accident (in certain cases the time limit is shorter so act quickly), or
- One month from instructing a lawyer.
Therefore, the important take-away is to seek advice quickly to ensure your rights are protected.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a minor car accident?
Yes, we think you should consider getting a lawyer after a minor car accident.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, we think we may be a good place to start.
At Gouldson, you only pay the lawyer’s fees if your case is won. No win? No fee! In addition, our lawyers’ fees are capped at 30% of your total settlement, whereas most other personal injury lawyers in Queensland may charge up to 50%.
What does this all mean? Well, where other lawyers may take up to half of your settlement, Gouldson’s maximum is capped at 30%. This means you have more of the money in your pocket, and you can focus on what’s important – getting your health back on track.
Interested? You can have your case reviewed for FREE by a qualified lawyer. All you need to do is scroll down to the form at the bottom of this page and get started.