In the US, the law defines a low-speed collision that happens at speeds below 10mph often with little or no visible damage done to the vehicles involved, instead impacting the people. Often, the vehicles being intact means the people involved overlook their injuries initially, only to realize they have injuries later on.
Most low-speed crashes are rear-ended accidents where one vehicle has already stopped and the other then hits them. Injuries at low speed happen for a number of reasons such as being unrestrained in the car, hitting their head, or even injury from wearing a seatbelt.
The most common injuries include soft tissue damage and bruising as well as spinal disk damage and whiplash, all of which can take months to spot or even diagnose. Auto accident doctors have their work cut out trying to diagnose or identify injuries after even a low-speed crash as they are often internal and don’t show for up o 5 days after. Some people experience chronic neck pain and complications that can last years, with treatment usually involving rest, pain medication, and physical therapy.
Whiplash, sometimes known as neck strain or sprain is a soft-tissue injury to the neck caused by the “forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” The sudden movement of the head causes muscles and tendons in the neck to stretch or tear and the symptoms to look out for include headache, upper back and shoulder pain, dizziness, and even numbness in arms and hands.
Bruises and injuries can also happen during a low-speed collision usually due to the seatbelt causing rib and chest bruising. The worst injuries caused even at 10mph can be torn rotator cuffs, vertigo, back spasms, a subluxation (where one or more of the bones of the spine is displaced and puts pressure on the spinal cord), bulging discs, and driving anxiety.
People involved in lower speed collisions have also reported having a concussion, torn rotator cuffs, vertigo, back spasms, and even a subluxation which is when one or more bones of the spine are displaced and puts pressure on the spinal cord. Other injuries have been bulging discs and even driving anxiety which only supports the severity of all kinds of traffic accidents.
Over the years, both defense attorneys and insurance companies have attempted to create the perception of greedy accident plaintiffs overstating their injuries, but recent scientific studies have shown that low-speed collisions can and do have significant risks of grave injury. You might be familiar with the “eggshell plaintiff” rule which is a well-established common-law in the US that states the defendant must “take the plaintiff as they find him.” What this means is that if a person injured in a low-speed crash happens to have a brittle bone disease and suffers grievous injury where most will have only a mild injury, the defendant is still responsible for the injuries he or she caused in the accident. This applies even to less serious diseases and conditions such as chronic back or neck pain, and arthritis.
As with most accidents, your attorney will try to establish that your injuries are directly due to the accident and this can cause issues if the injuries don’t show straight away. Historically, a defense attorney will attempt to portray the suit as a money grab implying that you’re greedy and exaggerating injuries.
The law permits victims of accidents to recover the reasonable expenses of their injuries, however, many injured individuals don’t want to look to be part of the problem of over-litigation. Our team of accident attorneys is working hard to change this perception and take the time to understand every case we’re presented with.
In 2004, a California dental student was rear-ended while waiting to make a left turn and as they’d already suffered bulging cervical discs from a previous accident, the second accident made it worse. He had to undergo spine surgery and have considerations in his future job. The jury awarded the plaintiff $500,000 in lost income and future medical expenses.
Similarly, in 2014, a woman in California got involved in a zero-property-damage collision, suffering a ruptured cervical disc and having to undergo surgery. The jury awarded the plaintiff $3.1 million in compensation for both past and future medical expenses as well as future pain and suffering- despite the defense’s attempts to downplay the severity of the accident.
If you’ve been involved in a low-speed accident or have any doubt over the validity of your accident case, why not speak to our team today. We’re always happy to represent your case and will work hard to ensure the jury has all the information they’ll need.
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