Jason Stephens | May 5, 2023 | Car Accidents
You may need a lawyer after any type of car accident. Whether you need a lawyer after a minor car accident depends on how you define “minor,” as well as many other factors.
However, you should always consider talking to a lawyer if you suffer an injury. Even if you believe you only have a minor injury, you may still need compensation to cover your losses.
Defining a Minor Car Accident
Lawyers, police officers, and insurance companies do not use the term “minor car accident.” As a result, people can interpret this phrase differently depending on the context.
Some people call an accident “minor” if it did not cause any injuries. The formal name for this type of accident is “property damage only,” or PDO accident. A PDO crash is not limited to minor damage. A PDO crash can result in a total loss of a vehicle. But a PDO accident does not cause any injuries, even minor ones, to anyone involved.
A minor car accident can also refer to the severity of the injuries produced. In Texas, police officers and the Texas Department of Transportation divide traffic injuries into five categories:
- Fatal injuries cause death within 30 days of the accident
- Incapacitating injuries prevent accident victims from continuing their normal activities, like driving themselves to the hospital
- Non-incapacitating injuries cause visible wounds that do not incapacitate accident victims
- Possible injuries produce symptoms, like pain, without causing visible wounds
- Non-injuries mean the accident victim suffered no injuries and had no complaints of pain
Some states refer to non-incapacitating injuries as minor injuries. If you use this scale, minor car accidents refer to crashes that cause no injuries, possible injuries, or non-incapacitating injuries.
When To Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Crash
When you get into a minor crash, Texas law requires you to report the accident to the police if the crash:
- Kills or injures anyone
- Disables a vehicle
After you call the police and receive any necessary medical attention, you should call an attorney to go over your rights and options. Ideally, you would speak with a lawyer before contacting any insurance companies.
If you and the lawyer decide you do not need legal representation, you can handle your car accident claim without hiring a lawyer. But if you have a legal problem and a lawyer can help, you can hire them for your case.
As a result, the right question is not, “Should I hire a lawyer after a minor accident?” The right question is, “When should I hire a lawyer after a minor accident?” Even after a minor crash, you could face legal problems and require a lawyer’s assistance.
Calling a Lawyer After a PDO Crash
After a PDO crash, you may not need a lawyer to help with your insurance claim unless:
The Other Driver Blames You for the Crash
Texas requires you to buy property damage liability (PDL) and bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage in your auto insurance policy to register a vehicle. If the other driver blames you for a PDO crash, they may file a property damage claim against you.
If they succeed in blaming you for the crash, your insurance will pay for their property damage up to your policy limits.
You Suffered Unusually Expensive Property Damage
Similarly, you may need a lawyer if your losses exceed the other driver’s PDL coverage. If you drive a Rolls-Royce, the other driver’s $25,000 PDL coverage will probably not even come close to covering your repair expenses.
Your Insurance Claim Was Denied
If you have collision coverage, you can receive insurance benefits to repair or replace your vehicle. But insurers sometimes deny these claims due to:
- Canceled coverage
- Unpaid premiums
- Misleading representations when buying the policy
A lawyer can review your claim denial and outline your options for responding to it.
Calling a Lawyer After a Minor Injury
You should always consider calling a lawyer after a minor injury for several reasons, including:
High Medical Treatment Costs
Even a minor injury could cost you thousands of dollars. Texas is one of the most expensive states in the U.S. for emergency room visits. On average, a patient will pay over $2,300 for emergency hospital treatment. Fort Worth also has extraordinarily expensive ambulance rides at $1,500 per ride.
Thus, even if your minor injuries don’t require any surgery or hospitalization, you could still pay nearly $4,000 in medical costs. Since most people do not have this kind of money saved, you may need to pursue an injury claim to avoid bill collectors and even bankruptcy.
The Other Driver May Be Uninsured
In most situations, you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurer to pursue injury compensation after a minor injury. But if the other driver does not have auto insurance, you must file a lawsuit to recover injury compensation. Lawsuits can be complicated, and you should talk to a lawyer about how they can help you.
Your Minor Injuries May Worsen
Minor injuries can worsen, develop complications, or signify a more serious problem. For example, torn cartilage in your knee could take many months to heal. It could cause arthritis in your knee, leaving you with permanent disabilities. Before you walk away from a possible injury claim, you should talk to an experienced lawyer.
Hiring an Injury Lawyer
Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee on the compensation they recover. As a result, injury lawyers only take strong cases. They will provide honest feedback about the strength of your case so you know whether hiring a lawyer is worthwhile.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107