car accident, people expect to see shattered glass, twisted metal, and a general scene
of wreckage. When the vehicles involved only have slight dents to bumpers
or scratches in the paint, there comes a common misconception that everyone
must be fine. The reality could not be further from the truth, though,
as a vehicle’s damage is not indicative of a passenger’s injuries at all.
Think of the situation from different angles. There are videos of professional
racecar drivers getting into horrendous wrecks only to walk away unscathed;
this is thanks in large part to how the vehicle was specifically designed
to absorb and distribute impact damage away from the driver. Inversely,
everyone has dropped their phone from time to time, usually from heights
no more than a foot or two off the ground; the protective case looks great
but when you pick it up, the screen is shattered or the device’s
internal components no longer work. Exterior damage is just not a concrete
indicator of what has happened on the inside.
Let’s even put this notion into a real world and relatable scenario.
If you are traveling at a fast velocity and slam on the brakes, the force
of the stop can be enough to cause back and neck injury, even if you are
in the middle of an empty parking lot and strike nothing at all. An exterior
impact that causes a similar amount of force may do little damage to the
car but the same harm to the passengers.
Scientific Perspectives from Official Organizations
The idea that external damage does not correlate to internal harm is not
a farfetched concept, either. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) knows this truth and explains it further. On their own
FAQ page discussing bumpers and their purpose, they clearly state that a bumper
“is not a safety feature intended to prevent or mitigate injury” but it is instead there to protect components of the car. They go on to
say that there is no reasonable way to determine how fast a car was going
in a collision based on bumper damage. In a roundabout way, the NHTSA
has stated that vehicle damage is not the same as passenger injury.
An in-depth study conducted by
SAE International – one of the world’s leading engineering societies with a focus
on vehicle safety – backed up this concept. It wasn’t just
a subjective session of discussions, either. They used scientific and
mathematical formulae to support their findings, which were that velocity
and G force affected a vehicle differently than people within said vehicle.
(A brief explanation and conclusion of their study can be found here:
The Trouble With Insurance Companies
Insurance providers try to look at a vehicle’s own damage to assess
the injuries of the passengers. This is pretty much a base guideline for
their analysis of the scene and necessary compensation. If they don’t
see much damage to the car, such as only a little dent in the bumper,
they don’t believe any reported injuries could be tied directly
to the crash. Instead, it is sometimes purported that passengers had the
injuries prior to the collision and try to tack them on their injury claim
to receive additional compensation. This is as erroneous as it is absurd,
and puts innocent passengers at risk of not receiving the medical treatments
required to recovery comfortably and correctly.
At Duck Law Firm, LLC, we believe in the inarguable importance of protecting
our clients’ rights and wellbeing after they have been wrongfully
injured in a car accident. We understand that serious pain and suffering
can occur, even in low speed collisions, and are prepared to stand up
to insurance companies who would rather save a buck than take care of
you. If you need serious and unshakable representation for your
personal injury case, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and dial
Free consultations with our Lafayette car accident attorney are available!