Some have likely heard this said: “That wasn’t such a bad traffic accident; the damage to the vehicle was minimal.” If you haven’t, then you probably have not dealt with an insurance company as a plaintiff in an injury case. Having represented hundreds of victims of car, truck or sport utility vehicle (SUV) crashes, my firm understands that it is quite easy to be seriously hurt in an automobile accident even though the repairs to the vehicle don’t amount to much at all.
This is a case of major bodily injuries, yet relatively minor vehicle or property damage. Sadly, this familiar, yet deceptive argument is used very frequently by defense attorneys and insurance companies when auto collisions are concerned. And it’s one of the best reasons to consult a personal injury lawyer experienced in the area of auto accident law.
Whether you live in Baltimore, Annapolis, Columbia or the D.C. area, car accidents can occur most anywhere, some of them with devastating consequences. Insurance companies many times will try to downplay the extent of an accident to try to justify a reduced settlement to the injured parties. This is done sometimes by introducing evidence in the form of distorted, grainy or out-of-focus photos showing minor vehicle or property damage.
But this is done without offering any expert testimony regarding the direct and causal relationship between the extent of the property damage and the victim’s bodily injuries. Brain trauma as well as neck injuries can occur even when a vehicle has sustained minimal outward damage itself. Yet every year, hundreds of auto accident victims settle for less than what they deserve due to these kinds of tactics.
The purpose of the defense is to disprove, usually by false implication, what has been proven by medical evidence and expert testimony — typically by a licensed physician. It’s easy to forget how much energy is released – or inflicted on a victim’s body — as a result of a traffic accident. Yet insurance company attorneys will usually make no mention of the sudden and very high energy forces that are transmitted throughout a motor vehicle in the milliseconds following a collision.
In fact, most modern cars are designed to handle a 10-15 mile per hour rear impact without suffering significant property damage. This is especially true of SUVs or pickup trucks. Yet the occupants’ injuries can be significant in such “minor” fender-bender accidents.
In reality, a car crash that results in very little visible vehicle or property damage can cause extensive, surprisingly painful and even permanent bodily injury. The force of a traffic accident results in the near-instantaneous release of high-energy forces that can cause sudden and violent movement of an occupant’s head, neck and limbs. This can result in a variety of injuries, including torn ligaments, strained connective tissue, bulging or blown-out spinal discs and other painful and sometimes long-lasting conditions.