You may have been sitting at a red light or stopped in traffic. You are minding your own business when suddenly you feel an impact to the rear of your car. It feels hard. It sounds like an explosion. And suddenly your car is pushed forward several feet, perhaps into the car stopped ahead of you. You get out of your car and go to the rear to inspect the damage. Amazingly, it doesn't look too bad. You expected the rear bumper of your car to be crushed in. All you see is some scuff marks; perhaps a puncture to the flexible outer cover of your bumper. The front of the car that hit you does not look much worse, perhaps there is no visible damage on the other car. You exchange information and you drive away. You are aware that your neck and your back are getting stiff. Later in the day, you are definitely feeling pain, so you go to urgent care to get checked out. Over time, if you are among the unfortunate victims of rear-end collisions, you wind up with a lot of pain, time off of work, medical visits with a variety of doctors and sometimes substantial medical bills.
You go to the insurance company for the driver that hit you. They tell you they don't believe that the collision was hard enough to cause the injuries you feel or to cause the need for the medical care and bills you have received. Why? Because the photographs of the cars don't show much damage and the cost to repair your care is under $2,000.00. This is an automatic "MIST" claim for an insurance company. Minimal Impact Soft Tissue: MIST.
Insurance companies have been very successful in denying legitimate claims like this. They have been supported by juries that are too willing to accept the blow ups of the pictures of vehicles that do not show much damage, if any, and buy into the insurance company argument that no visible damage equals no injury. These successes in trial have emboldened insurance companies to increase their denials of proper claims of people that suffer real and sometimes debilitating injuries from these so called low speed collisions. Are you stuck with accepting nothing or "nuisance value" offers to settle your case?
The answer is: No. As with every case and every claim, each collision has its own unique facts and circumstances. This is not a one size fits all event. Not everyone involved in a collision is injured. Not every low speed impact results in no injury and not every high speed impact or roll over collision results in an injury either. In fact, the speed of the vehicles and the force of the impact do not determine whether someone is injured or not in a collision. It is harder to convince a jury that someone who was rear ended at a low speed suffered a significant injury, but it is not impossible...if you take the right steps to prove it.
This article is the first in a series of articles that explore low speed collisions and the injuries they cause. In upcoming articles I will discuss what an attorney need to do to prove bodily injuries in low speed collisions; what are the factors that lead to successful outcomes in these cases; how and why having pre-existing conditions help explain and prove why low speed collisions cause injuries and aggravation of prior injurires; how pre-existing conditions make people more susceptible to injury and more easily injured in low speed collisions; and why the so called "experts" that insurance companies rely on to help them convince a jury that you were not injured in a collision are using junk science and should not even be allowed to testify in court.
Stay tuned and come back often to follow this story......