Facts About Minor Car Accidents and Injury

Not all car accidents are major; however, all accidents are serious. An accident can result in painful injuries even if it doesn’t occur at high speeds or on a highway.

If you’ve had a minor car accident, you may be wondering if your injuries are serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor or chiropractor.

If so, you are not alone. Feeling this way is common.

In this article, you will learn: 

  • What defines a minor car accident
  • What are the most common minor car accident injuries
  • What to do if you’ve been in a minor car accident; and
  • More
car accident injury

Table of Contents

What Defines a Low-Speed Car Accident?

You may feel that the accident you’re in is a major one, but there is a distinction between a major and a minor accident — it depends on the injuries. Speed change of the impacted vehicle. In a low-speed collision, the speed change to the impacted, or ‘target’ vehicle, is 10 mph or less. So if your vehicle is stopped, and hit by another vehicle, the ‘bullet’ vehicle, at 15 mph, your speed change could be 7.5mph, so that would qualify as a low speed collision.

Low-speed auto accidents typically result in some damage to the vehicle but often does not affect its operation ability or cause life-threatening injuries.

Examples of low-speed auto accidents include the following:

  • An incident involving a fender bender
  • A broken headlight or taillight
  • A dent on the side of the vehicle
  • A crack in the windshield
  • A dented in door

As far as car damage goes, a low-speed accident is typically one where you can still drive away from the accident scene, but sometimes the damage can be too great to drive away. In comparison, the totaling of your car is the result of a high-speed accident.

Can a Low-Speed Car Accident Cause Injury?

Studies have been conducted in which patients without predisposition for injury were put through various scenarios. Unfortunately, it was shown that speeds less than five mph, even 2.5 mph, could still cause injuries.

This is because vehicles are designed so that they don’t sustain significant damage in minor collisions, but an elastic collision occurs. This is when the bumper bounces back, and most of the energy moves the vehicle forward. Consequently, it is more likely to cause injuries to car occupants than a high-speed accident.

Injury risk curves are the basis for assessing the safety of automotive occupants. 

They are used in:

  • Consumer testing
  • Safety system design; and
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of safety systems

Generally speaking, injury risk curves show as speed increases, the amount of injury rises when impacts are elastic (no to little vehicle damage), then decrease when the impacts become plastic (causing vehicle damage).

Accidents that occur at 20-30 mph can be safer than those that occur at 10-15 mph, while those at highway speeds are the most dangerous.

6 Frequently Asked Questions About Minor Car Accident Injuries

#1: How Long Does it Take to Tell if You Have Injuries From a Minor Car Accident?

Some injuries are pretty obvious, such as a shoulder dislocation or a broken wrist, but others can take a few days to manifest. 

You may not notice …

  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Whiplash; and
  • Other head injuries right away

… so you feel fine right after an accident but notice something isn’t quite right within a few days.

The reason for this is adrenaline.

During an accident, adrenaline kicks in and, in essence, turns off your pain receptors. As a result, you may not have realized how hard you hit your head or have trouble sleeping after the crash. 

Often it takes 3-5 days to feel the injury, especially in areas like ligaments and discs. It can take several days to feel the pain because these aren’t movements your body is used to, and those parts don’t have a good blood supply like muscles do.

#2: At What Point After a Car Accident Should I Visit a Doctor?

Because of the reasons listed above, you should go right away! Following up with a doctor within 72 hours of a car accident is a good rule. 

After a car accident, common injuries like whiplash can develop within hours or even days.

Many symptoms do not appear right away because swelling or inflammation can conceal something more serious. In addition, taking pain medication can mask your symptoms and delay your treatment. 

When you are balancing work and family obligations, 72 hours may seem like a short amount of time, but remember, your health is essential, and you should take care of yourself so you can fully enjoy spending time with others.

Are you in need of chiropractic care? For an integrated approach to injury recovery, Cascade Spine & Injury Center offers chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, and therapeutic rehabilitation. 

Get started on your recovery from auto accident injuries by scheduling an appointment today.

can a minor car accident cause injury

#3: What Are the Most Common Minor Car Accident Injuries?

Despite being less dangerous than major car accidents, minor car accidents can still cause injuries that need medical treatment.

The following are some of the most common injuries suffered in a minor auto accident:

  • Whiplash
  • Sprains and strains
  • Bruises
  • Abrasions and lacerations
  • Concussion
  • Bones broken
  • Strains or tears in ligaments or muscles
  • Trauma to the head or brain

A person’s injuries are primarily determined by the cause of the accident and where the vehicle was hit.

For example, drivers may suffer head or brain injuries if they are rear-ended and hit their heads on the steering wheel. Likewise, when a driver is struck on the side of their vehicle, they may experience whiplash.

#4: At What Speed Can You Get Into a Car Accident and Not Have Injuries?

As Cady Heron said in Mean Girls, the limit does not exist! 

There is no known lower threshold for injuries in an auto accident. Low-speed car accidents can result in injuries to the: 

  • Neck
  • Shoulder
  • Back
  • Chest; and 
  • Head

Whiplash is the most common injury associated with low-speed collisions (especially rear-end collisions).

#5: What if I’m in a Minor Car Accident With No Injuries?

In low-speed car accidents that cause little or no damage to cars, injuries can still happen. Therefore, you should still see your doctor after a minor accident.

People seldom anticipate minor accidents before they happen; there is no time for them to prepare and brace themselves for impact — this is why minor accidents lead to injuries.

In the aftermath of an accident, you want to ensure you don’t have underlying injuries that haven’t yet presented symptoms due to the release of adrenaline.

You should always have a medical professional check you out after a minor accident to ensure you are not hurt.

minor car accident

#6: How Can Cascade Spine & Injury Center Treat My Injury From a Minor Car Accident?

Our goal is to be a health partner for you.  

Whether you have been injured in an auto accident at work or for another reason, you will receive a tailored treatment plan that employs the right mix of therapies to get you back to health as quickly as possible.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors diagnose issues that affect your body’s movement using the best available evidence and clinical expertise. As a result, these issues can be treated without medication or surgery and are prevented from recurring. 

Besides alleviating pain, chiropractic care promotes health and improves the quality of life.

Many different physical conditions can result from an impact depending on how the body is positioned. They include: 

  • Concussions
  • Whiplash
  • Upper and lower spinal injuries
  • Hip injuries; and
  • A variety of other injuries

Getting treated by a chiropractor when you’re injured can make a massive difference in how you feel.

Chiropractic care focuses on the …

  • Nerves
  • Muscles; and
  • Joints

… which are the things that are most affected by an auto accident.

Chiropractic care is a natural approach that enables the body to heal naturally.

minor accident chiropractor

Massage Therapy

Chiropractors manipulate the musculoskeletal system, whereas massage therapists work the body’s soft tissues, especially tendons and muscles, to reduce: 

  • Inflammation
  • Pain; and 
  • The unpleasant effects of stress

Massage helps relieve nerve pressure and, like chiropractic care, increases mobility and range of motion. 

In addition to strengthening muscles, the therapy can also help them become more resilient and resistant to injury, allowing them to function better. 

Massage can also be used to:

  • Enhance immune function
  • Increase relaxation; and
  • Encourage circulation

Chiropractic care can be complemented by massage. 


Chinese medicine has evolved over thousands of years and is widely practiced worldwide.

In contrast to typical western medicine, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine view the body as a system of meridians, energies, and organ systems that lead to quite different treatment regimens. 

Acupuncture is the most well-known and often practiced of these treatment methods, and it involves inserting very thin needles into your skin at specific points on your body.

When inserted, the needles improve the flow of chi, or life energy, through the body’s channels and meridians. As a result, many body systems, including healing and pain reduction, are enhanced. 

Chiropractic care and massage therapy complement acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicine treatments.

Rehab and Exercise Therapy

A rehabilitation exercise program is crucial for almost every patient’s recovery. 

An injury can cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to weaken, shorten, and become inflexible. Targeted therapeutic exercises prevent and reverse these changes. 

Rehabilitation exercises are aimed at restoring full function following an injury by: 

  • Strengthening the muscles
  • Increasing endurance
  • Improving power; and
  • Increasing flexibility

Exercise plans are created for each patient, and the plans change as the patient advances through their treatment.

If You’ve Been in a Minor Car Accident, Don’t Wait for the Pain to Start — Contact Cascade Spine & Injury Center Now

Cascade Spine & Injury Center is a multidisciplinary clinic that focuses on treating those injured in everyday situations, including: 

  • Major and minor motor vehicle accidents
  • Work injuries; and
  • Sports injuries

We combine chiropractic, massage therapy, and therapeutic rehabilitation to provide you with a quick and effective recovery from whiplash and other traumatic injuries.

We use an integrative approach, which regularly provides excellent results for our patients, and every patient receives an individualized, comprehensive chiropractic treatment plan customized to meet their specific needs. 

Get started on your journey towards healing and comfort by contacting us today.

can a minor car accident cause injury

Leave a Comment