Anyone can sustain serious, even catastrophic and disabling injuries in traffic crashes at low driving speeds.
It seems logical to most of us that the higher the speed, the more serious the injuries.
But that is not necessarily the case, according to Dr. Ronald J. Farabaugh, a doctor practicing in California since 1982. Dr. Farabaugh is certified in low-speed rear impact crash reconstruction through the Spine Research Institute of San Diego.
The doctor writes, “The threshold of soft tissue injury is much less than the force required to damage a bumper/vehicle.”
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US ABOUT LOW-SPEED COLLISIONS?
Dr. Farabaugh also offers the following research findings in his 2003 report titled “Vehicle Damage versus Injury: Is there a correlation?”
1. “3.7 to 5 mph rear-end impact, which subjects the cervical spine to as much as 4.5 G-forces, constitutes the threshold for mild cervical strain injury.”
2. “A collision, when the offending car moves at a rate as slow as seven (7) mph can cause severe tissue damage and injury.”
3. “The amount of damage sustained by the car bears little relationship to the force applied.”
4. “Each accident must be analyzed in its own right. Auto speed and damage are not reliable parameters.”
Obviously, driving slower is no guarantee that you will not sustain a serious injury in a vehicle accident.
Speed is certainly a factor, but with so many factors at work in an accident, it is impossible to isolate the effect of speed or to draw consistently any direct relationship between the speed of the vehicles in an accident and the severity of the injuries in that accident.
WHAT ELSE MAY IMPACT THE SEVERITY OF THE INJURIES IN AN ACCIDENT?
Other factors that can influence the severity of injuries in a traffic collision may include but are not limited to:
1. the angles of the vehicles at the moment of impact
2. the construction, frame, and age of the vehicles
3. your bumpers, airbags, and safety belts
4. your exact position at the moment of impact
5. the amount of time it takes for medical help to arrive
WHAT INJURIES ARE COMMONLY SUSTAINED IN LOW-SPEED COLLISIONS?
In the United States, the most frequently-reported injuries sustained in low-speed vehicle accidents are:
1. broken bones and ribs
3. complete or partial paralysis
5. spinal cord injuries
6. traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and other head injuries
Even at the lowest driving speeds, some traffic crashes cause catastrophic and disabling injuries. Many of the injury victims and their families now spend millions each year for surgeries, therapy, and rehabilitation.
Make no mistake. In low-speed collisions, the risks and the statistics are real.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RISKS IN LOW-SPEED ACCIDENTS?
Traumatic brain injury symptoms may include seizures, blackouts, disorientation, and memory loss.
Spinal cord injuries can incapacitate someone for weeks, months, or for life.
In low-speed crashes, an occupant’s head may be suddenly tossed forward and backward, and the brain literally “bounces” against the victim’s skull. TBI is a likely result.
In accidents where the vehicles were traveling under fifteen miles per hour, passengers in the front seat face a higher risk of injury than drivers because drivers can brace themselves at slow speeds with the steering wheel.
In collisions with vehicles traveling at only five miles per hour, about ten percent of the passengers and drivers will suffer from whiplash.
The biggest concern after a slow-speed accident is latent and hard-to-detect injuries, especially brain injuries.
WHY IS A MEDICAL EXAM IMPERATIVE EVEN AFTER A LOW-SPEED CRASH?
But any untreated injuries can become serious medical conditions, so anyone involved in a low-speed crash really must seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
Even if you feel great, have a medical exam within the first twenty-four hours after any traffic accident. A medical examination safeguards your health, and if you are in fact injured, that initial medical exam will provide key support for your injury claim.
If another driver’s negligence has injured you, get the legal help you need. You must obtain an accident lawyer’s help at once after a negligent driver injures you.
If you are injured due to a low-speed traffic collision, an automobile insurance company could reject your injury claim by insisting that a minor accident could not be the cause of such a serious injury.
Most auto insurance companies in Louisiana are operated by professionals with high standards, but you still need to be wary. A shady auto insurance company may try to avoid paying your injury claim – especially after a low-speed collision.
WHAT DOES THE LAW PRESUME REGARDING LOW-SPEED ACCIDENTS?
Every Louisiana driver should try to become familiar with the legal presumptions that are typically at work in traffic accident cases arising from low-speed vehicle collisions.
For instance, when a motorist rolls his or her vehicle into another vehicle that is either legally parked or that is legally stopped at a stop sign or at a red-light signal, the motorist in the moving vehicle will almost always be considered at-fault.
When a driver can’t safely bring a vehicle to a stop, that driver will almost certainly be deemed negligent.
If a negligent driver injures you in the New Orleans area or elsewhere in Louisiana, do not make any statement to an insurance company, and do not accept the company’s first settlement offer.
HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?
In fact, it is best if you do not even talk with the insurance company before you’ve been advised by a personal injury attorney.
Typically, in low-speed collisions, an auto insurance company will offer an injury victim a settlement amount that is far below the actual value of your injury claim.
You do not have to settle for less than you need and deserve. Put your personal injury case in the hands of an experienced negotiator – your lawyer – and then focus on healing from your injuries.
Your lawyer will handle all of the questions and negotiations on your behalf.
After a negligent driver injures you, a skilled personal injury attorney can protect your rights, explain your options, and advocate aggressively for the justice and compensation you need.
In the state of Louisiana, if you have been injured by another driver’s negligence, you are legally entitled to compensation, but you’ll need legal help.
Get that help immediately. That is your right.