For most people, driving is a normal part of life. Most days are uneventful and pleasant. Occasionally, minor inconveniences like traffic jams or road construction cause us to change our routine. On the other hand, some car accidents seem to change lives instantly.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we are concerned about Alabama car accident victims. Some underestimate the significance of low-impact car accidents, realizing the extent of their losses too late.
If you were in a recent Birmingham car crash, we want you to have the compensation you need. First, learn here about low-impact car accidents and what you can do if one affects your life. Then, call us anytime at (800) 477-7510 to find out how our experienced lawyers can help.
What “Impact” Means?
The “impact” is when one object forcibly makes contact with another. A motor vehicle might strike another car, a stationary object, or a pedestrian upon impact.
Various factors influence how much force an impact has and how much damage it causes. These, in turn, determine whether an accident is low, moderate, or high. The next section will explore some variables that drivers control.
The Effect of Speed on Accidents
How fast was the object moving when it struck something? The answer to this question could indicate how much damage occurred upon impact.
In Alabama, the speed limit on many rural interstates is 70 miles per hour (mph). Urban interstates and other limited access roads are 65 mph. In town, speed limits range from as low as 15 mph in school zones to 45 mph on country roadways.
Suppose a motorist driving on I-65 exceeds the posted speed limit of 70mph. The impact of his or her car hitting a stalled vehicle would be great, likely resulting in a large amount of damage. However, the damage could be significantly greater if it hit another car traveling in the opposite direction.
Speeding drivers could be held liable for the damage if they cause a preventable accident. Yet, low-impact car accidents usually involve speeds of 10 mph or slower.
Every driver has had to slow down because of weather or road conditions. Yet, as Alabama code states, “no person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” If a driver is going too slow for the circumstances, he or she may be liable for any accidents caused.
In general, slow-moving vehicles cause less damage than fast-moving ones. If a second moving object is involved, its speed also factors into the equation. Yet, the size and mass of both vehicles can impact how severe an accident is.
Why Weight and Size Matter?
Passengers experience forces affected by the size and weight of their vehicle and the object that strikes them. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the force magnitude directly relates to the likelihood and severity of injuries. Consider the following factors.
Frontal crashes account for more than 50 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities. In large vehicles, the distance from the front of the vehicle to its occupants is longer than in small cars. This increased distance allows more of the frame to be crushed without pushing into the driver and passengers.
Therefore, passengers in large vehicles are less vulnerable in frontal crashes. A moderate- or high-impact crash for a compact car might be a low-impact accident for an SUV, truck, or semi-trailer.
A heavy automobile will often push a lighter one in the opposite direction of the impact. For instance, if a van swerves into a motorcycle from the left lane, the impact could send the motorcycle to the right. Even a low-impact accident like this would be extremely dangerous on a bridge, overpass, or another location with obstacles on the right side of the road.
Weight can also affect the force inside both vehicles. The people in the heavier car would experience less force than those in the lighter auto.
Auto manufacturers have begun addressing this issue by improving fuel economy and lowering energy-absorbing structures to correspond with those in cars.
Losses Caused by Low-Impact Accidents
Can a low-speed collision cause injuries, especially if there is little to no vehicle damage? A 1998 study examined this question. The research showed that some low-impact collisions do not leave skid marks or visible vehicle damage. However, there seems to be no relationship “between occupant injury, vehicle speed, and damage.”
In other words, speed and vehicle damage do not reliably predict symptoms. Crash tests revealed that even a 2.5 mph change of vehicle velocity can result in occupant injury, though no vehicle damage is likely to occur.
In particular, three injury types seem prevalent in low-speed vehicle collisions:
- Soft tissue: Sprains and strains can occur when the sudden impact of a car crash jolts your body, overstretching or tearing your ligaments or tendons. Common trouble spots are the neck (i.e. whiplash), shoulders, and lower back.
- Joint: Since joints are capable of only small movements, a car accident can push them too far out of place. These injuries can be painful and difficult to treat.
- Concussions: A blow to the head during an accident could result in a concussion. This injury can cause unconsciousness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and noise, among other symptoms.
Not all injuries show symptoms immediately, and adrenaline can mask pain after a traumatic event. You should always consult a doctor after an accident, even if you initially feel fine.
Crash tests recorded vehicle damage occurring at speeds under 9 miles per hour. Did your Birmingham car accident affect any of the following parts of your car?
- Bumpers and fenders: These auto parts often absorb the brunt of the force of a collision
- Paint: The expense of fixing scrapes and scratches can vary from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the depth of the damage and the rarity of the paint color
- Headlights and tail lights: Cracked or broken lights should be replaced immediately since these parts are essential to safe driving
- Side mirrors: Side-swipe accidents can knock a mirror out of place or completely detach it from its position
If you need to repair your vehicle, you might need to rent a car or take public transportation. When getting an estimate, make sure it includes the cost of replacement parts, shipping, and labor charges.
During a free consultation with our law team, you can discover all the losses you qualify to recover. Why miss out on a single penny you deserve?
Meeting the Costs of Low-Impact Damages
Sometimes, people who cause significant injuries and property damage take responsibility for their actions. Yet, even some who cause low-impact accidents refuse to admit fault. Why might that be the case?
You might hear such excuses as:
- “I barely touched your vehicle.”
- “I was not even going fast.”
- “It was you who stopped suddenly.”
- “It is just a little ding.”
Their denials might be sincere or manufactured to avoid liability. Either way, Alabama law is on the victim’s side. If you can prove that your injuries resulted from the low-impact accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages from missed work
Providing this proof could be easier said than done. A lawyer can guide you through the process of substantiating your claim.
See a doctor as soon after the accident as possible
Seek medical attention. Call 911 at the scene, if necessary, or go to a nearby hospital or urgent care center. Keep copies of emergency room documents, diagnoses, tests, and prescription medicines.
You should also get a copy of the police report. The Records Division keeps track of accident reports and criminal background checks in Birmingham. You can purchase reports in person or by following the procedure for mail orders and digital copies.
Document follow-up visits
Keep a record of the days you take off work for recuperation and doctor’s visits. Your attorney can help you request records to demonstrate your lost income (e.g. pay stubs, tax returns, employer letters).
Write down your symptoms daily if possible. Save all correspondence with healthcare professionals, including emails, telephone calls, and recommendations for exercises and diet.
Obtain a vehicle damage estimate
It would be best if you also get an estimate for the cost of repairing your car or property, including any valuable personal items damaged in the crash.
Some insurance companies prefer you to visit specific auto mechanics or body shops. Our legal team can help you understand the fine print of the involved insurance policies.
Your Needs Are Our Priority
Some lawyers might not want to help low-impact accident victims. At Norris Injury Lawyers, we are always concerned with your well-being. Regardless of whether you are hurting due to a major crash or minor fender-bender, we want to help you get your due compensation.
We always have the time to listen. There’s no fee for a consultation, no obligation, and no reason to wait. Call (800) 477-7510 or click “Let’s Chat” on the left of your screen to talk to a live representative now.