I was rear-ended today in a very minor Washington, D.C.-area car accident. Will I need to hire a lawyer, or can I just deal with this on my own?

Unfortunately, many people believe that if they do not feel injured at the scene of a Washington, D.C. car crash—even a minor one—that they have escaped the wreck unscathed. This leads them to have a “let’s just get it over with” mentality when it comes to the insurance claim and may just accept the bare minimum necessary to fix their damaged car.

The truth is, minor D.C. car accidents—especially fender benders—can be deceptively damaging. Your car may only have sustained a small dent or two in a rear-end collision, but the sudden “whiplash” effect that occurs when you are rear-ended can cause serious injury to the connective tissue in your neck and back.

Another common misconception that rear-end accident victims have is that if they are unhurt at the scene of the accident, they will not face any complications from the accident later. Because of this belief, drivers who may be injured brush off the severity of the accident and settle quickly, or even settle for cash under the table.

Studies have shown that a significant percentage of rear-end accident victims experience their symptoms any time from 24 hours up to one week following the accident. This is because the connective tissue and muscles in your neck do not always immediately react to the initial stress of whiplash.

If you have been rear-ended, you may have suffered a neck injury that can affect you for weeks, months, or even years to come. Following an accident—even a minor one—do not accept an insurance company’s initial offer until you are sure that you are not injured, and never settle for cash.

While you may not need to hire an attorney immediately after every accident, rear-end collisions—especially ones that are seemingly minor—can often be settled before any symptoms arise. A lawyer will not only be able to advise you on your first steps towards pursuing compensation, but if your case goes to trial, an experienced trial lawyer will be able to properly demonstrate how your rear-end collision was responsible for your injuries.

The Bethesda auto accident attorneys at Lewis & Tompkins are available to help you recover the damages that you deserve following your accident—call them today at 202.296.0666 for a free consultation.

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