A car crash does not have to take place at high speeds in order for injuries to occur. While high speed accidents often result in obvious physical damage, low speed accidents often cause soft tissue injuries. In these types of injuries the damage is not immediately apparent and pain may set in days or weeks later.
Virginia accident statistics
In 2017 there were 127,375 car crashes resulting in 843 fatalities and 65,306 injuries. Speed and alcohol were a factor in nearly 30,000 of the accidents and accounted for over half of the fatalities. Most of the remaining accidents were low speed collisions. A low speed crash is an accident that happens when a car is travelling twelve mph or less.
Human injury threshold
Insurance companies will often try to claim that low speed accidents occurred at speeds too low to cause any injuries. However, in low speed collisions the impact from the collision is often transferred throughout the vehicle instead of being absorbed by the bumper, resulting in back and neck injuries. The momentum from the crash forces a human neck into a deformed “s” shaped for a fraction of a second in accidents at as low as 2.5 miles per hours. Most whiplash injuries occur in low speed accidents.
Not outwardly apparent
In low speed accidents, insurance companies often base the damage to a human body on the apparent physical damage sustained by the car. Using an image of a slightly scuffed bumper as a defense against a personal injury claim is a common tactic used by insurers. This tactic is often misleading as the damage threshold for a vehicle is much higher than human threshold for injury.
The damage threshold for cars is the minimum speed required during a collision for the car to show visible signs of damage. This number generally ranges from 8-13 mph. It is important to note the surface of the vehicle may not show much damage, but shock absorbing foam or plastic underneath may be cracked or crushed after absorbing some of the accident’s impact energy.
While a low speed accident may not result in broken bones or lacerations, you may have sustained soft tissue damage. There is no such thing as a small car accident and minimal property damage does not equate zero physical injuries. If you suffered a low speed collision and are now feeling the painful aftereffects it may be time to consult a personal injury attorney.