Expert Article Library

Minor Impacts and Major Injuries

By Dan Baldyga Email: dbpaw@comcast.net

As of December of 2003 it was determined that there were approximately 12.8 million motor vehicle accidents involving 22 million vehicles in the United States.This amounts to well over one crash per second. Let’s take a look at these impacts and the gazillion injuries they caused.

LOW SPEED IMPACTS: These are crashes that are considered to be any collision that takes place at speeds under 10 MPH. While there is absolutely no justification to call it a “Low Speed” impact that’s what the insurance industry loves to identify them as. Why ? Because a moniker like that is supposed to indicate that the “Impact” could not possibly have caused an injury. (As usual, when it comes to minimizing the value of the loss, they try to get away with anything they can)!

It’s true that when such a crash does take place there’s not a lot of damage done to the motor vehicle Yet, in many cases, people involved in these types of accidents more often than not suffer injuries - - neck injuries especially.

Although the insurance industry would like to have the world of claim settlement’s admit it, an injury can and absolutely does occur when a low impact collision takes place. The most common is identified as the “Whiplash”. This takes place because the occupants don’t have the slightest idea about the impending collision so they can’t brace themselves by forcing their back and/or neck against the seat or headrest.

QUESTION: "Whiplash is strange word for an injury - - where in the world does that come from?" ANSWER: "It comes from the fact that movies of low speed impacts reveal that one's body gets 'Whipped About' something fierce"!

Automobile bumpers are built to withstand up to a 5 MPH crash without damage. This is not done to insure the safety of the occupant but rather to protect and limit the damage to the bumpers, keeping the cost of repair to a minimum. Many times vehicle to vehicle impacts can sustain an impact of 8 to 9 MPH before there’s recognizable damage to the motor vehicle. However, and this is a provable fact, when the bumper doesn’t crumble and absorb the force of the impact - - more of that crash is felt by the occupants.

IMMEDIATE INJURIES: The individual that’s been crashed into by another (even at only 5 MPH) is thrown forward with a severe jerking motion - - causing necks to snap and backs to twist. Because of this many soft tissue styled injuries take place, including multiple body bruises, plus chest and rib injuries.

In most cases the forever-on-the-con insurance industry attempts to deny the possibility of injuries in a low speed impact but research substantiates just the opposite! The motor vehicle will show little damage but the velocity and accompanying force have to be transferred somewhere, and that’s to the he or she sitting in that vehicle. Cars are built to withstand such minor impacts - - the human body is not!

FRONTAL COLLISIONS: In most frontal impacts the occupants can generally brace themselves because they’re usually aware of the collision they’re about to be subjected to.

The speed and weight of the vehicle play a role in the injuries of the occupant. (The more the vehicle crumbles at impact and the longer the time involved, the less severe the injuries to the occupants. Many times airbags will deploy).

In frontal impact collisions the speed and size of the vehicle determines the injuries that can take place. In the case of rear-end collisions, the striking vehicle not only undergoes a collapse, but transfers momentum to the car that’s been struck by pushing it forward. The airbag may or may not explode. This depends upon the rigidity of the vehicle that’s been struck.

IMMEDIATE INJURIES: Head and neck, back, spine, rib and clavicle, arms and legs, concussions, soft tissue, internal, dislocations, abrasions, cuts and bruises.

48 to 72 hours later: Headache, blurred vision, dizziness and loss of taste, smell or hearing. Also, difficulty breathing, blood in urine or stool, swelling, loss of motion and visualized bruising take place. (These are only a few so it’s crucial that those injured should immediately set up an appointment with a medical doctor for an examination and/or consultation).

SIDE IMPACT: Many times the occupant's head will hit the side window and bounce off of it. There are no air bags nor bumpers, engines, etc., to help protect one's body or absorb the force of the impact.

IMMEDIATE INJURIES: Head and neck, arms & legs, soft tissue, dislocations, scrapes and bruises.

48 to 72 hours later: Pain, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, loss of taste, smell or hearing, numbness or tingling (and basically the same as listed above) so, at the risk of being repetitious but because it’s so important, I must say once again: It’s of major importance that the individual exposed to impact - - no matter how slight it may seem to have been - - be examined by a medical professional.

ROLL-OVER ACCIDENTS: The typical roll-over accident is very serious. The most common factors in single vehicle accidents are approaching a curve at too high a speed, leaving the pavement or highway, or over-correcting the steering wheel - - particularly in vehicles with a short wheel base. The severity of injuries to the occupants generally depends on the beginning velocity of speed, the number of rolls, condition of the vehicle, and what the motor vehicle rolled through, over and into!

Damage to the vehicle is generally extensive. It has been determined that 60% of the economic costs from roll-over's resulted from occupant ejection, and that the initial roll-over speed was between 40 to 60 MPH. A recent study reported that restrained occupants showed a higher proportion of neck injuries than the unrestrained.

IMMEDIATE INJURIES: The whole nine yards - as detailed above.

The bottom line is that in all motor vehicle accidents - - no matter how minor the damage - - it’s of the greatest importance that each and every individual immediately visit a medical professional for an examination and/or consultation.

If you happen to be at the scene and somebody asks if you think they should see a doctor, your answer should always be, “Of course, absolutely - - positively” !

At that point you should pause, take a deep breath, look straight in their eyeballs and tell them, “It’s your only body. You should do whatever you can to take care of it and protect it”.