It is a common misconception that only high-impact automobile crashes can lead to serious injuries, meanwhile research data fleshes out that the reality many Tennesseans have experienced life altering injuries in low impact automobile collisions.
The term “low impact accident” is one coined by insurance companies to describe automobile accidents where there was little or no property damage and usually occur at very low speeds. Insurance companies insist that if there is little property damage, there can only be little or no personal injury involved in a low impact car accident. This simply is not true.
While vehicles are designed to withstand low velocity impacts between 5 and 15 miles per hour, the human body is not. Soft tissue injuries are the most common among low impact car accident victims. Most injuries occur to the soft tissue in the neck and back areas. Soft tissues include muscles, ligaments and tendons and lead to injuries like contusions, bruises, strains, and sprains. Whiplash is the most common injury in low impact accidents.
A study conducted by The International Spine and Pain Institute found that speeds as low as 4-5 mph on human subjects causes forces as high as 4.5G on the neck and head. The study also concluded that an impact of 20 mph produces a peak acceleration of the head of 12G into extension. Depending on the age of the victim and the severity of the injury, whiplash can be permanently disabling. Almost 30% of people with a neck injury reported suffering neck pain three years after the accident.
Whiplash injuries pose a number of challenges to recovery. First, whiplash will often present a delay in the onset of symptoms. Many victims who are later diagnosed with whiplash fail to report having pain at the scene of the accident and many do not report feeling any pain until 24 hours to one week after the accident.
Another mistruth many insurance companies assert is that it’s impossible to get whiplash in a car with a high seat back or head restraint. However, the aforementioned International Spine and Pain Institute study debunked this insurance myth as well. If not properly positioned for each person, a headrest may act as a fulcrum and cause whiplash or contribute to whiplash injury. A Federal Motor Vehicle Safety study found that only 25% of adjustable head restraints were positioned correctly and 75% of head restraint were left in the down position.
The sad truth is many insurance companies routinely deny or minimize injury caused by low speed injuries ignoring well established studies by reputable organizations that found harm indeed is realized in such collisions . A competent, experienced personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf, cutting through mistruths asserted by insurance adjusters. If you have been injured in a low speed or low impact auto collision, contact attorney Michael Pence and schedule your consultation.