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Friday, September 15, 2017

Bumper To Bumper Collisions

What to know about your injury from a “low impact” rear end collision.

 

So you were injured in a rear end collision and the insurance adjuster says “due to the lack of vehicle damage we have determined that you couldn’t have been hurt that bad so we have already determined the value of your injury claim to be no more than $2,500.00.” “But my medical bills are more than that and I’m still hurting” you say in response. “That’s because you probably had some degenerative conditions that aren’t our responsibility” is the likely response and then the conversation goes nowhere.  Why is this and why does the insurance industry continue to take this position to low ball legitimate claims?

 

Several years ago the insurance industry started promoting a concept commonly referred to as MIST, which stands for Minor Impact Soft Tissue damage cases. Their theory is that low speed impacts with minor vehicle damage cannot result in physical injuries such as whiplash injuries to cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine in the human body. The purpose of this, of course, was to refuse to pay legitimate claims and thereby pad their bottom line. The insurance industry funded a series of Quasi-scientific studies trying to establish the lack of correlation between minor impact collisions and injuries. They did this through a series of tests conducted with voluntary human subjects (who were usually young and healthy and therefore less susceptible to injury or industry employees [biased]), as well as experiments using cadavers and crash test dummies. Of course, the problem with their studies is that these tests were specifically designed not to injure the human subjects. In fact, it would be illegal and unethical to do so. Regardless, even with their biased studies, the overwhelming consensus among the biomechanical experts employed by the insurance industry is that a Delta-V (change in velocity) of 5 mph does result in symptoms of injury. 

 

Another, bigger problem is that there is no correlation between visible property damage and change in velocity in bumper to bumper collisions. Unlike other parts of a vehicle that have a crush zone, bumpers do not. In fact they are designed to do just the opposite. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “[t]he car bumper is designed to prevent or reduce physical damage to the front and rear ends of passenger motor vehicles in low-speed collisions. Automobile bumpers are not typically designed to be structural components that would significantly contribute to vehicle crashworthiness or occupant protection during front or rear collisions. It is not a safety feature intended to prevent or mitigate injury severity to occupants in the passenger cars. Bumpers are designed to protect the hood, trunk, grille, fuel, exhaust and cooling system as well as safety related equipment such as parking lights, headlamps and taillights in low speed collisions.”[1] Furthermore, NHTSA goes on to explain the following in this Q&A article:

 

“11) Is there a way to determine how fast a car was going during a rear end crash based on the damaged bumper(s)?

 

No. We do not collect any data that would be useful in determining the impact speed. Many parameters such as vehicle masses, the pre-impact velocity of both vehicles, impact angles, crush resistance, metallurgical fatigue, etc., affect how the bumpers behave during an impact. Each crash must be analyzed with respect to all of the parameters before an estimate can be made.”

So, if the bumper of the bullet vehicle is aligned with the bumper of the target vehicle, where does the transfer of energy go? You guessed it. The force goes to the vehicle occupants. In fact, there is a greater likelihood of injury in a bumper to bumper collision with little visible property damage precisely because there is no crush zone to absorb the energy!

 

The next time you are confronted with an insurance adjuster who tries to tell you that you are not hurt because of the lack of visible damage to your bumper, kindly tell them to take out their high school physics book and then call you back. Then get a lawyer.

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, we’re here to help. Contact Attorney John Webb today via email at jwebb@smithwelchlaw.com or call us at 770-389-4864 for a free consultation.

 

Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC., is recognized as a premier law firm throughout the state of Georgia with expertise in this area of law. We have an uncompromising commitment to serving our clients and community. Our team of experts routinely handle a wide range of legal matters and will be happy to provide outstanding service for you, your family, or your business.

 

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 



[1] https://one.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/studies/Bumper/Index.html


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