Personal Injury Lawyers Bronx and Westchester County, New York

How Serious Are Low-Impact Car Accidents in New York?

Even collisions at low speeds have the potential to cause severe injuries

A "low-impact car accident" refers to a collision where the vehicles involved are moving at relatively low speeds, typically resulting in minimal damage to the vehicles and less severe injuries to the occupants. These accidents often occur at speeds under 10-15 miles per hour.

Even though these accidents are often considered minor, it is still important for those involved to exchange information, document the scene, and report the accident to the relevant authorities and insurance companies. Additionally, it is advisable to seek medical attention, as some injuries from low-impact collisions may not be immediately apparent.

Whether you were hit in a parking lot, rear-ended at a stop sign, or sideswiped by a driver changing lanes, it’s important to understand your rights if you were injured in a New York crash.

At Giampa Law, an experienced car accident lawyer from our New York law firm can guide you through the process of pursuing compensation and protect your rights every step of the way.

What are the most common types of low-impact car accidents?

Rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of low-impact accidents. They often occur at intersections or in heavy traffic, typically involving one vehicle striking another from behind. Despite relatively low speeds, these collisions can be serious and are the leading cause of whiplash.

T-bone accidents

Side-impact collisions, also known as T-bone accidents, occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another. T-bone accidents often happen at intersections or in parking lots and can result in serious injuries, depending on the angle and force of the impact.

Parking lot accidents

Parking lot accidents are often considered minor but can also cause serious injuries. Common scenarios include vehicles backing into each other or colliding at low speeds while maneuvering through the lot. Pedestrians and bicyclists can also get hit in parking lots at low speeds.

What typically causes low-impact collisions?

One of the primary causes of low-impact car accidents is distracted driving. Since low-impact crashes tend to happen in areas with dense vehicular and non-vehicular traffic, it only takes a split second of distraction to hit someone.

Most distracted driving crashes happen when drivers are texting and driving, programming a GPS, adjusting in-vehicle infotainment systems, multitasking, or engaging in other distractions.

Many low-speed collisions are also caused by failure to yield. In many cases, drivers fail to fully stop at stop signs and yield the right-of-way to other road users. In New York, many drivers cause collisions while impatiently trying to navigate through busy traffic.

What are the most common injuries from low-impact car accidents?

Neck and back injuries

Neck and back injuries are among the most prevalent consequences of low-impact car accidents. Whiplash, a very common car accident injury, can lead to neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and even radiating pain down the arms. Additionally, herniated discs and spinal fractures may occur, causing long-term discomfort and limited mobility.

Traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are another concern, as even minor collisions can result in concussions or contusions. Symptoms such as cognitive difficulties, memory problems, and mood changes may arise, necessitating comprehensive medical evaluation and treatment.

Soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains, are also common. These occur when the body's soft tissues—muscles, tendons, and ligaments—are stretched or torn upon impact. While these injuries may not be immediately apparent, they can manifest days or even weeks after the accident, causing chronic pain and discomfort.

Who pays for damages after a low-impact collision in New York?

In New York, the state's no-fault insurance system, also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), plays a crucial role in determining who pays for damages after a low-impact collision. Under New York’s PIP system, your own insurance company covers your medical expenses and certain other losses, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

Here’s how it works:

  • Medical Expenses: PIP coverage will pay for your medical bills up to the policy limits. This includes hospital visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, and any other necessary medical treatments.
  • Lost Wages: If you are unable to work due to injuries sustained in the accident, PIP can cover a portion of your lost wages.
  • Other Costs: PIP may also cover other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred as a result of the accident, such as transportation to medical appointments.
  • Vehicle Damage: Damage to your vehicle is typically handled separately through your collision coverage or by pursuing a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance.

Even in a low-impact collision, it's important to report the accident to your insurance company and seek medical attention to diagnose and treat any potential injuries. New York’s PIP system is designed to ensure that you receive prompt payment for your immediate expenses, allowing you to recover without the delay of determining fault.

However, if your damages exceed your PIP coverage or if you have sustained serious injuries, you may have the right to step outside the no-fault system and pursue additional compensation from the at-fault driver. This is when consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer who understands the nuances of New York’s no-fault system becomes critical.

How is liability determined in a low-impact collision?

If you’re pursuing damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you’ll need to prove liability to have a viable case. To accomplish this, these four key criteria must be met:

  • Duty of care: The first criterion involves establishing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. This refers to the responsibility to operate a vehicle safely and obey traffic laws.
  • Breach of duty: The second criterion involves showing that the other driver breached their duty of care. This could include speeding, running a red light, or driving recklessly.
  • Causation: The third criterion requires establishing a causal link between the other driver’s breach of duty and your injuries or damages. In other words, it must be demonstrated that the other driver’s actions directly led to your injuries.
  • Damages: The fourth criterion involves proving that you suffered actual damages as a result of the traffic accident. These damages can include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Establishing liability in low-impact car accidents requires a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collision. While these incidents may involve minimal property damage, they can still result in significant injuries. This warrants careful examination of factors contributing to the accident.

Witness statements, police reports, and expert analysis of accident reconstruction can provide valuable insights into the sequence of events and help establish liability. An attorney at Giampa Law can gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim and ensure accountability for the injuries sustained.

Steps to take after a low-impact car accident

If you’re involved in a low-impact crash, take the following steps for your safety, well-being, and successful claim outcome:

  • Ensure everyone is safe and call for medical assistance if needed.
  • Move vehicles out of traffic if possible.
  • Report the accident to law enforcement and get a police report.
  • Share contact and insurance details with the other driver.
  • Take photos of the damage, location, and any relevant details.
  • Get contact information from any witnesses.
  • Report the accident to your insurer.
  • Visit a doctor to check for any injuries.
  • Maintain a file with all documents related to the accident, including police reports, medical records, and repair estimates.
  • Get legal help and avoid speaking to the other driver’s insurance company.

What if the at-fault driver flees the scene of the crash?

Unfortunately, many low-impact car accidents in New York are hit-and-runs. Some drivers might feel that a low-impact crash isn’t serious enough to contact the police, exchange insurance information, and deal with insurance claims. In other cases, hit-and-run drivers are impaired by alcohol or drugs or attempting to flee from law enforcement.

The good news is that PIP should pay for your damages, up to policy limits. However, if your damages exceed this limit and the hit-and-run driver can’t be identified, you can seek compensation from your own insurance company through your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.

New York requires all drivers to carry UM coverage. While this coverage is meant for car accidents with uninsured drivers, it also applies to hit-and-run accidents with unidentifiable drivers.

The policy limits are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury. However, it only covers bodily injury and doesn’t cover vehicle or property damage.

Car accident lawyers fighting for crash victims in New York

Whether you're a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist, you can sustain a severe injury from low-impact car accidents. Knowing what to do during the aftermath can be confusing. That's where the experienced attorneys at Giampa Law come in.

We understand the challenges of low-impact car accidents and New York's legal system. We've stood by crash victims when they needed us most and handled many car accident cases.

When you choose us to handle your claim, you're not just another case—you're family. We'll dive deep into your accident, explore all legal avenues, and advocate fiercely on your behalf. Your recovery and well-being are our top priorities. Don't wait—contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. With offices in The Bronx and Valhalla, we proudly serve clients in NYC and Westchester County.

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