Fender benders can lead to lasting injuries

The fender bender. There are few drivers who haven’t heard the term used to describe a minor traffic accident. To many, the fender bender is little more than a nuisance, leaving minor dents or scratches in our cherished automobiles. In Canada, passenger cars are required to meet more than 40 safety standards designed to protect occupants during frontal, side and rear collisions. But even the latest advancements cannot guarantee complete protection.

Minor accidents can happen quickly and are over in seconds. After the initial jolt, the adrenaline is flowing and your first thought is likely to be on the damage to your car. You may not even consider your physical condition while you are inspecting that crumbled bumper or the ding in the door.

After assessing the damage, the other driver may offer you a quick cash settlement in order to avoid dealing with insurance companies. And while that might seem like the best way to deal with a fender bender, it is not. Today’s automobiles are sophisticated and there could be hidden damage that could cost thousands more than you realize. More importantly, you may have suffered an injury that is not readily apparent. 

There are times when the full impact of an accident, even a minor one, does not physically manifest itself for days or weeks. At Kantor LLP we have experience with the soft tissue injuries that fender benders can inflict. First of all, never accept the insurance company’s initial offer after an accident. It can be in your best interest to contact a lawyer first. You don’t have to file a claim immediately. You can take a “wait and see” approach. Monitor your injuries and recovery over a period of time then determine if you need to take legal action. Contact our office for your Free Consultation. We can discuss your case to see what your claim is worth. Our knowledgeable team will advise you of your options and guide you through the insurance process, which can be complex and confusing. We will protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Injuries happen even in the safest vehicles

Automobile safety has come a long way in the past few decades. According to Transport Canada, passenger cars are designed “with a robust occupant compartment structure” and energy-absorbing "crumple zones" in the front and rear of a car to reduce the severity of the forces transmitted to the driver and passengers. Car doors are typically constructed of stamped steel plates and also have energy-absorbing materials. Many newer cars have side curtain airbags. Sophisticated seatbelt systems work in conjunction with the airbags to reduce the risk of impact against the steering wheel and dashboard in head-on collisions. Head restraints, seat backs and seatbelts protect vehicle occupants when a vehicle is hit from behind.

With all the safety innovations in modern cars, there is reason to believe that only serious accidents will lead to long-lasting or permanent injuries, correct? Not necessarily. Low-impact collisions can occur at any time for a variety of reasons, including tailgating, distracted driving, wet or icy roads or poor visibility. But many people assume the minor injury they suffer in a fender bender is nothing to worry about. That is not always the case. We need look no further than Jensen v. Thompson, a Queen’s Bench of Alberta case involving a minor traffic accident.

Court was told a 55-year-old woman was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by her husband when they stopped for a traffic light. While they were waiting for the light to change their vehicle was hit from behind by a minivan driven by a man who had let his foot slip off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator. 

The collision itself was minor, causing $675 in damage to the pickup. However, the woman suffered whiplash that forced her to miss a week of work. She received medical help but her condition got progressively worse. When she returned to her job, she found doing written work and repetitive tasks with her right arm caused the pain to escalate. She developed a heaviness, a numbing, tingling sensation and loss of feeling in some of her fingers, court was told.

She sued for general damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities and enjoyment of life; loss of housekeeping capacity, special damages for out-of-pocket expenses; past and future income loss and loss of pension benefits. 

The defendant alleged that because of the low impact of the collision, the woman’s injuries caused by the accident were minimal and her difficulties must be explained by a pre-existing arthritic or other condition. However, the court disagreed and awarded her $380,000 in damages.

Low-impact accidents and soft tissue injuries

Low-impact accidents are generally considered those that happen when a vehicle is travelling less than 25 km/h. It could involve backing into a car while leaving a parking spot or bumping the car in front of you at a traffic light or in stop-and-go traffic. 

Of course, in any accident it is possible to suffer deep cuts or broken bones. But what is often overlooked are soft tissue injuries, which occur in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. These injuries can be difficult to diagnose and many times it could take time for symptoms to develop. It is easy to ignore a stiff neck when you are thinking about the damage to your vehicle but the pain of whiplash can stay with you for years and require extensive treatment. You could be left unable to do your job and facing financial uncertainty.

If you have been injured in a car accident, no matter how minor, you may be entitled to damages for:

  • pain and suffering;
  • past and future loss of income;
  • loss of earning;
  • out-of-pocket expenses not covered by your insurance benefits;
  • cost of future; and/or
  • loss of housekeeping capacity.

You don’t have to face insurance companies alone

Make no mistake about it, the insurance industry is a money-making enterprise and providers don’t pay out claims unless it’s necessary. Some claims adjusters may assume that because an accident was low impact, the injuries must be minor or do not exist. At Kantor LLP we will work tirelessly to ensure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit the compensation that you deserve. Schedule your Free Consultation by calling (403) 930-8594 or send a message to kantor@kantorllp.ca. We represent our clients on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid for our time and attention until we settle.

Filed Under
Personal Injury Law