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Common Misconceptions About Car Accidents and Injuries

Published Date: 
March 19, 2024
A man sitting on the curb next to his wrecked car.

Have you ever heard "whiplash isn't serious" or "minor bumps don't need a doctor"? Here's a guide debunking common myths about car accidents and injuries.

From Minor Bumps to Lasting Impacts: Separating Fact from Fiction About Car Accidents and Injuries

Car accidents are one of the most common ways people suffer injuries. Even minor fender benders can leave you with chronic injuries that affect your daily life. Unfortunately, there's a tendency to dismiss minor accidents, bumps, and bruises as not serious. Some people even blow off whiplash. This attitude can leave you in pain, struggling to heal from your injuries and wondering why nobody is taking you seriously. This is why it's so important to get accurate information about injuries and make informed decisions about health and safety.

What are some of the most common myths that need debunking once and for all so people get the treatment and care they need after a car accident? 

Myth #1: "Minor Accidents Cause No Harm"

If you've been in a fender bender, chances are you've heard about how it was no big deal or that it's good that it wasn't worse. Unfortunately, this can be misleading and leave you feeling like you "shouldn't" be injured or in pain. The truth is even minor accidents can cause harm.

In addition to any injuries you can see, such as cuts and scrapes, there could be internal injuries or soft tissue damage. You might experience delayed symptoms days or weeks after the incident. This is one of the reasons it's so important to seek medical evaluation after an auto accident, even if it seems like it wasn't serious. You need a medical professional to give you a complete assessment and determine if there are any injuries you can't see.

Myth #2: "Whiplash Isn't Serious"

Whiplash is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. Perhaps this common occurrence is one of the reasons people dismiss it as not serious.

Whiplash is a neck injury commonly caused by a sudden jerking motion of the head backward and then forward. The back and forward motion strain your neck muscles and ligaments, causing symptoms including:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion

Sometimes, whiplash may also cause headaches, shoulder pain, and numbness or tingling in the arms. Whiplash injuries are often associated with rear-end car collisions. 

Although you might feel neck and upper back pain immediately, it's common to not feel whiplash symptoms for a few days after the event. The best thing you can do after an auto accident, especially if you were hit from behind, is seek prompt medical attention and proper treatment. 

Myth #3: "You Don't Need a Doctor Unless There's Visible Injury"

Just because you can't see an injury doesn't mean one hasn't occurred. Internal injuries are not visible to the naked eye. You might not even feel a great deal of pain. Even if you do, if someone tells you not to worry about it, you might be inclined to dismiss it. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious medical concerns.

Seeing a doctor after an accident means a professional will assess your condition, diagnose all injuries, and treat anything that might be hidden or seem not that serious. This reduces your risk of long-term complications. 

Myth #4: "It's Always the Other Driver's Fault"

Accidents occur for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes one person is at fault. Other times, both parties played a role in the collision. Regardless of who's "fault" it might have been, injured parties have rights and should seek medical attention no matter their role.

Many states have comparative negligence laws that address the role of everyone involved in a car crash.

Comparative negligence laws, or comparative fault, are legal principles used in personal injury cases to determine each party's degree of fault or responsibility for an accident or injury. According to this approach, the damages awarded to the injured party are reduced proportionally to their degree of fault.

There are two main types of comparative negligence:

Pure Comparative Negligence

In states that follow pure comparative negligence, the injured party can recover damages even if they are found to be mostly at fault for the motor vehicle accident. However, the compensation they receive is reduced by their percentage of fault.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Many states have adopted modified comparative negligence laws, which come in two forms:

  • 50 Percent Rule: Under this rule, recovery of damages is only an option if they are found to be 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. They cannot recover damages if they are 51 percent or more at fault. If their fault is 50 percent or less, their damages are reduced by their percentage of fault.
  • 51 Percent Rule: Similarly, under this rule, recovery of damages is only an option if they are found to be 51 percent or less at fault. However, they cannot recover damages if they are 51 percent or more at fault.

Comparative negligence laws ensure that each party bears responsibility for their actions in an accident, and damages are allocated accordingly. This system promotes fairness and equitable distribution of compensation in a personal injury case. However, specific laws and rules regarding comparative negligence vary by state, so it's essential to consult with a personal injury lawyer familiar with the car accident laws in your jurisdiction.

It's essential to seek legal representation for an accurate assessment of fault and liability in any accident you were involved in—this way, you'll know what to expect and what action you should take to protect your rights. 

Myth #5: "There's No Point in Suing for Minor Injuries"

Although you might be tempted to downplay an accident that caused only minor injuries, this can cost you in the long run. No matter how severe the accident, you could be facing expensive medical bills, lost wages due to time away from work, and other long-term impacts. Even a minor fender bender can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

In many cases, legal action can help you recover fair compensation to help you pay for the damages caused by the accident. Regardless of the situation, exploring your options with a personal injury lawyer is important. They can explain your options and help you make the best possible decision based on the facts of your car accident case. 

Resources for Accident Victims

The following resources can help you get accurate information after a car accident:

What's the Best Thing You Can Do After an Accident?

First and foremost, seek medical attention. Next, speak to a legal expert. Finally, trust your instincts. It's important to trust your gut once you've gathered the medical and legal information you need to make an informed decision. Even minor accidents can create serious injuries; you should trust your instincts. If you believe you've experienced a car accident injury, it's essential to get it treated.

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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