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What Is an Example of a Minor Accident?

Published on Jul 7, 2023 by Thomas Law Offices.

What Is an Example of a Minor Accident
Becoming involved in a motor vehicle crash in Chicago is never ideal. Matters are made far worse when a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian gets hurt in the collision, though.

While many people assume that a car accident is relatively minor if it only results in dents or dings or other cosmetic damage, that’s not always the case. Even a crash that doesn’t appear to have caused serious damage may have seriously hurt someone.

The same logic applies to an auto accident that causes significant property damage. Safety design features may protect vehicle occupants from suffering serious injuries despite the collision appearing to be unsurvivable.

Determining where that fine line lies between minor and major accidents may sometimes be unclear. At continuum, we’ll help you make sense of what is and isn’t an example of a minor accident and the steps you may potentially want to take if you’re involved in a crash. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our team of car accident lawyers in Chicago.

Types of Minor Car Accidents

One indicator that many individuals consider when classifying auto accidents as minor or major ones is the property damage they left behind. In general, the following types of crashes tend to result in limited property damage and occupant injuries and thus are considered minor crashes:

  • Fender benders or slow-speed rear-end crashes: These crashes often occur in rush-hour traffic on city streets where motorists are traveling at a slow rate of speed or at an intersection’s traffic light or stop sign.
  • Sideswipe crashes: These crashes may occur when a distracted motorist temporarily ventures out of their lane but quickly reassumes control of their vehicle, thus only making limited contact with another automobile.

Other accidents may seem relatively minor on their face, yet often have far more catastrophic consequences than one would anticipate. Examples of accidents that fall into this category are angled strikes or rear bumper tap types of accidents.

A tap of a vehicle’s bumper that occurs when a motorist is exiting a parallel parking space may not seem all that serious. However, an instance in which a vehicle is struck by a merging motorist from an angle at high speed on an interstate can easily cause a motorist to lose control of their automobile, resulting in them traveling off the roadway, down an embankment, or into oncoming traffic. Tapping a bumper can also cause a potentially deadly rollover crash.

Accident types that seldom fall into the category of minor ones include:

  • Front-end collisions, wrong-way accidents, or head-on crashes
  • T-bone wrecks or intersection accidents
  • An underride accident whereby the front end of a vehicle is crushed or the roof is sheared off as it becomes lodged under a tractor-trailer

Similarly, any accident that results in the deployment of air bags is likely to be considered a major one as they tend to only inflate in high-impact situations.

Factors That Impact the Severity of a Car Accident

Another indicator that distinguishes between major and minor accidents is injuries. A good rule of thumb is that a crash is considered minor when it results in motorists walking away from their crash unscathed or suffering relatively minor soft tissue injuries that heal within days after their onset.

A few factors determine whether an accident will involve serious property damage and potentially put vehicle occupants at risk of serious injury. One major factor is the speed at which motorists were traveling in when the crash occurred. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), speed:

  • Gives motorists less time to notice and react to potential hazards
  • Affects vehicles’ braking distances (in terms of time and distance)

Other factors that can significantly impact the severity of a crash and vehicle occupant injuries include whether a motorist was:

  • Distracted in the moments the crash occurred
  • Fatigued or drowsy at the time of the crash
  • Drug or alcohol-impaired when the accident happened

Operating a vehicle under any of the circumstances above is dangerous. Driving an automobile while under the influence of a controlled substance or when drowsy can impair motor skills and slow reaction times. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is much more serious than most motorists realize. This driving behavior is particularly unsafe because it involves visual, cognitive, and manual distractions all at once.

Some additional factors that dictate the severity of property damage and injuries stemming from a Chicago car crash may include:

  • Whether vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts at the time the accident occurred
  • Vehicle design (like the size of the automobile and safety features on it)
  • Weather conditions at the time of the crash (they can make matters worse)
  • Whether the collision resulted in a fire, and how quickly vehicle occupants were removed from that situation
  • Placement of vehicle occupants in the automobile, i.e., front versus rear seat
  • Whether air bags deployed (they can be helpful in minimizing injury, but also cause injuries like broken bones and burns themselves)

As you can likely tell, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to determining whether an accident will be minor or major. Instead, a variety of factors figure into it.

Injuries Commonly Suffered in Minor Versus Major Accidents

A motorist that is able to walk away from their crash injury-free or that suffers a concussion, whiplash, superficial cuts, or bruising should consider themselves lucky. They’re generally able to return to life as they knew it before the accident within a matter of days or a week following their crash.

The same can’t be said for victims of serious auto accidents as often occur on Chicago’s main thoroughfares, including interstates:

  • I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway)
  • I-55 (Stevenson Expressway)
  • I-90 (Kennedy Expressway)
  • I-88 (Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway)
  • I-294 (Tri-State Tollway)

Victims of accidents that occur on the interstates above or countless other Illinois state and U.S. highways that traverse Chicago’s main cities like Joliet, Deerfield, Schaumberg, St. Charles, Aurora, Cicero, and our city’s many other neighborhoods and suburbs are seldom fortunate enough to suffer only minor injuries in their collisions.

Crashes that occur on our areas’ busier thoroughfares tend to be where some of the more catastrophic injuries, such as the following, occur:

  • Head and traumatic brain injuries
  • Compression injuries, resulting in amputation
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Internal organ damage, such as dissection of the spleen
  • Bone fractures, resulting in surgery to reset the bone or the insertion of a rod for stabilization
  • Neck injuries, causing persistent, radiating pain into the other limbs

While car accident victims can recover from some of these more serious injuries, doing so can take one or more surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. A car accident victim’s ability to return to their pre-crash life after suffering such a catastrophic injury is largely contingent upon:

  • The location of the injury
  • How much time elapses between the onset of the injury and the patient receiving medical attention
  • The course of treatment a patient receives after initially suffering their injury
  • How experienced their physician is at treating similar conditions to theirs
  • How closely the patient follows the treatment plan outlined by their physician

Some injuries are worse than others. While some patients may recover from a bone fracture or neck or back injury following surgery and recovery period or physical therapy, they may also have to deal with functional impairments or residual pain for the rest of their lives.

When a car accident victim suffers a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, their health outlook and chances of returning to their former life may be far less optimistic. Being able to walk or reason through and remember things may be indefinitely out of the question.

Steps To Take Following Any Car Accident in Chicago—Major or Minor

Looks can deceive when it comes to auto accidents. As mentioned earlier, not only can property damage give the impression that an accident is more or less serious than it truly was, but injuries can be a bit deceptive, too. Car accident victims often initially report feeling fine after a crash, only for their health to significantly decline in the hours and days after their wreck. This is why all car accident victims should follow the following steps post-crash:

#1: See a Doctor

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Take time and visit your general practitioner, an urgent care facility, or a hospital emergency room after your Chicago crash. Let your medical provider know that you were just involved in an accident. They’ll ask you for details to guide them as they assess your health. They’re trained to notice early signs of traumatic brain injuries or internal organ damage that can be life-impacting or deadly unless triaged right away.

#2: Follow Up With a Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve met with a doctor and learned that you have some of the more serious injuries described above, you have a long road to recovery ahead of you. Keeping your stress levels at a minimum is key to you getting better quickly. Keeping pesky insurance adjusters and medical bill creditors at bay is also integral. One of our attorneys at Thomas Law Offices can serve as your gatekeeper for communication so that you can focus on getting better.

Our legal team has extensive experience representing victims of car accidents, both minor and major, across Chicago. Reach out to us to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case so we can advise you of the rights Illinois law affords you in it.

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At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

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Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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