What Is the Difference Between a Minor and Major Car Accident?

You can come crashing down any minute. 1.35 million people die in roadway accidents every year. The United States experiences the most road crash fatalities of any high-income nation.

This means that you must prepare for car accidents. Yet you are faced with many different car accident scenarios. 

What distinguishes minor car accidents from major car accidents? When do car crash injuries become significant? When does a minor accident become a major one?

Answer these questions and you can respond to all types of car accidents without panic. Here is your quick guide.

Property Damage

The easiest way to distinguish different types of car accidents is to look at the cars. A major car accident will involve significant damage to your car. If you cannot drive or move your car after the crash, you are dealing with a major incident. 

A minor car accident will involve small amounts of damage. You may have bent a fender or chipped some paint on your car. You may not have any damage at all. 

Yet car damage is not the only thing you should look at. You should consider the damage to other pieces of property. If someone’s house or thousands of dollars of items got damaged, you have a major accident on your hands.


Injuries are another way to make a quick distinction. Nearly every car accident will cause some sort of injury. If a head or spinal cord injury occurs, the car accident becomes major. 

Minor injuries like muscle strains can become major ones if they are chronic. They are also major if they impede a person’s life in any way. The signs of a chronic injury or disability may not be immediately apparent, but they turn a minor accident into a major one. 

If a pedestrian got injured, it is a major accident. Very few pedestrians get hit by a car and walk away with minor injuries.

Legal Matters

Some municipalities require drivers to report accidents if someone gets injured or if a certain amount of property damage is reached. If your accident gets reported to the authorities, you need to take it seriously. 

Many accidents result in criminal charges. A driver fleeing the scene can be a felony offense. You must hire a lawyer, even if the accident does not seem significant to you.

You may not face criminal charges. But you may incur points on your license or higher insurance premiums, even for minor car accidents. Be ready to defend yourself in case you lose your privileges.

The Qualities of Minor and Major Car Accidents

You can understand minor and major car accidents. If a vehicle gets totaled, you are dealing with a major car accident. But you should also consider the damage to roads, homes, and public property. 

Any type of head or disabling injury turns a fender bender into a major event. A pedestrian injury is significant, even if they seem fine. 

Car accidents can result in a string of criminal charges. If you are faced with one, your crash is major. 

You have to understand many things to respond to crashes. Read more car accident guides by following our coverage.