For some reason Insurance Companies seem to have embraced the idea that body damage in a motor vehicle accident in some way relates to the level of injury to the person in the car. This is a grossly oversimplified statement but one that some attorneys can be convinced is real. Low speed impact injuries have a myriad of conditions that can impact the people in the vehicle, this article talks about only one, surprise.
My guess is that statistically speaking there are more fender benders than massive crashes so the insurance companies have spent a lot of time and energy trying to establish “Norms” that just don’t exist in order to make low speed impact personal injury cases harder to defend.
Some attorneys now won’t take Personal Injury cases in low impact situations citing body damage to the vehicle is insufficient to make a case. This is just not an accurate representation of the facts, you need an attorney and a Dr. willing to do the work necessary to make your case for you and it does take extra knowledge and work to document this type of case adequately to assure a settlement.
If your Dr. is unaware of the factors involved they can’t be adequately explained and this may be why some attorneys have become afraid to take the low speed cases and I assure you it has nothing to do with the level of the clients injuries.
This article is going to address only one factor that may raise the potential for being injured in any accident including the low speed ones. I am quoting a study from Spine Magazine and only providing excerpts from this article that explain the results.
SPINE (Phila Pa 1976) 2003 (Apr 1); 28 (7): 671–679
Siegmund GP, et alStudy
Design: Human subjects were exposed experimentally to a single whiplash-like perturbation.
Objective: To determine how awareness of the presence and timing of a whiplash-like perturbation affects the onset and amplitude of the neck muscle response and the peak magnitude of head and neck kinematics.
Summary of Background Data: Although most whiplash injuries are sustained in rear-end collisions, which occur without warning, most studies of whiplash injury have used subjects aware of the imminent perturbation.
Methods: Seated subjects (35 women and 31 men) underwent a single forward horizontal perturbation (peak acceleration, 1.5 g). Surface electromyography measured the sternocleidomastoid and cervical paraspinal muscle activity. Three awareness conditions were tested: a countdown for subjects alerted to their perturbation, a perturbation without an alert for subjects who expected it within 60 seconds, and an unexpected perturbation for surprised subjects who were deceived.
Results: Sternocleidomastoid activation occurred 7 ms later in surprised subjects than in aware subjects (P < 0.0002). Cervical paraspinal amplitudes were 260% larger and angular head accelerations in flexion were 180% larger in surprised male subjects than in alerted male subjects. Surprised female subjects exhibited a 25% larger head retraction and a 30% lower forward acceleration of the mastoid process than aware female subjects.
Conclusions: The larger retractions observed in surprised females likely produce larger tissue strains and may increase injury potential. Aware human subjects may not replicate the muscle response, kinematic response, or whiplash injury potential of unprepared occupants in real collisions.
The long and short of it, all surprised subjects were exposed to greater injury than those who were not surprised. Females in particular had even greater potential for more severe injury when surprised.
When I am writing up these types of cases there has to be a paragraph or several discussing the complicating factors that increase the potential for this patient in particular to have suffered a serious injury where some other individual might not have.
More factors contributing to greater injury to be discussed in future articles.