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The Low Energy Collision Impact


car-parking-dent-1169985In a car accident one important factor of an insurance company’s evaluation of the case is the collision impact. In looking at crash photos, some cars show little damage, but the structural internal damage can tell a much different story. This is why I want a good body shop to do a frame inspection. With modern equipment, a frame inspection can not only show the internal extent of damage, but also the angle of impact. The angle of impact is important to know, as it can show biomechanically how you were injured.

For example, you are rear-ended at 15 mph. You see the car coming. You brace for impact. Your right foot is hard on the brake pedal. Your hands grip the wheel. At the last second the other driver sees you and turns right to avoid hitting you. You are hit by his left front side off center, to the right rear side of your vehicle at a 15° angle. The energy of the impact twists your vehicle to its left at this same angle. However, human body dynamics first pulls you right at a 15° angle towards the direction of the force, then backwards left at approximately the same 15° angle, twisting you in the seat. With your seatbelt locking up, your injuries, depending on your position in the seat can be (1) carpal tunnel syndrome in one or both hands, (2) brake pedal injury to your right foot, ankle, knee, or hip (left leg injury of a planted left foot), (3) left shoulder injury from seatbelt, (4) twisting side to side sprain of neck, back, ribs, etc., (5) herniated discs at any level, (6) concussion from rotation.

Most accidents can be biomechanically reconstructed. The worse news I sometimes hear from clients is ‘the car was older so it was totaled’, ‘the insurance company took it for salvage.’  Some insurance companies do estimates on totaled vehicles, others do not. Sometimes the best evidence of your injury lies parted out in a salvage yard.

If you can logically show how you were injured (human dynamics in response to force) your injuries will be more easily understood by an insurance company and if necessary, a jury. Once the insurance company knows you have a logical explanation of how you were injured, the value goes up; sometimes a lot. Your injuries then are understandable, as is your treatment for the injuries.

Insurance companies start out the evaluation of your case with a “you have to prove your case to us”. How you prove it can make a lot of difference in what you will ultimately receive.

Even in a low energy impact case, the speed, angles and energy forces can add up to prove your injuries and how they occurred and get you a better settlement.

In another article I will talk about the importance of photos, but for now, if you or a family member or friend are in an accident, take photos of collision damages and your injuries from every conceivable angle, and take lots of them. Photos are at least a start to show how you were injured, even from a low impact.


Bill Kuziara is an attorney in Santa Rosa,California with over 30 years’ experience in handling personal injury cases.