Minor Impact – Major Injuries
As a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California, I spend a lot of time arguing with insurance adjusters and defense attorneys regarding the amount of compensation my clients should receive for their injuries. Of all the types of car accident and personal injury claims I handle, “minor” impact accident claims are often the most difficult because of the belief of adjusters and defense attorneys that such car accidents cannot cause injury.
However, this erroneous belief defies the undisputed biomechanics underlying many car accidents that involve a minor impact. Whether an occupant of a motor vehicle is injured following an accident is not simply a function of the amount of apparent damage to the involved vehicles. A variety of factors determine whether injury occurs in addition to the sheer force of the impact.
First, there is a variety of car accidents that occur: rear-end; bumper-to-bumper; t-bone; and more complex accidents involving multiple vehicles, multiple angles and multiple impacts. Even as common an accident as a rear-end impact will produce widely varying results depending on the vehicles involved (e.g., compact car versus a SUV) and the precise angle, speed and point of the impact.
However, an even greater factor in determining injury potential is who is occupying the vehicle. As a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California, I have represented thousands of clients and each one was unique: gender, age, and pre-existing medical conditions are all crucial factors in determining injury potential. Pre-existing conditions that make someone more susceptible to injury in a minor impact accident include spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, spinal degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, polio, bulging, protruding and herniated discs as well as prior injuries, and genetic conditions.
The position of an occupant in the vehicle and whether seat belts are employed or air bags deploy are all factors that determine whether injury can occur. For example, although seat belts and airbags will prevent contact with the steering wheel, dash or windshield, these safety devices do not provide protection in all situations, particularly in low impact accidents. Research has shown that in low impact accidents seat belt restraint without air bag deployment can cause an increase in the rotational speed of the head around the neck when the shoulder harness restrains a vehicle occupant. Consequently, increased stress on the cervical spine and the muscles and tissue of the neck can occur in such circumstances.
Simply because a car or truck did not sustain heavy damage does not mean an injury could not occur. Motor vehicle accidents are complex events and each is unique and should be treated as such. As a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California, many of my clients are injured in such accidents and it my pleasure to fight for them.
Special thanks to our friend James D. Pacitti, Esq., a car accident lawyer in Van Nuys, California, for providing some insight into car accident practice.