Low-Speed Rear End Collision – The Transfer of Force

Rear-end collisions are one of the most common car accident types in Maryland. Many rear-end crashes occur because of distracted drivers, speeding, tailgating, and alcohol impairment. Also, many rear-end collisions occur at low speeds. However, low speed does not equal minor injuries. The transfer of force in a low speed rear-end collision can be more than enough to cause severe injuries that have long-term impairments.

How Does the Transfer of Energy Cause Injury in a Collision?

There is much debate about whether a person can be seriously injured in a low-impact rear-end collision. If you consult some sources, you find that they claim there could be some minor injuries in low-impact crashes, but state that low-velocity rear-end accidents do not produce significant injuries.

However, there are also sources that argue the force created in a rear-end crash, including low-speed rear-end collisions, is sufficient to cause injury to the vehicle’s occupants. In some cases, injury symptoms may be reported in rear-end crashes in which the vehicle had no visible damage. Symptoms were reported in collision severities in the 4 to 5 mph range.

The argument of whether low-speed rear-end collisions cause injuries for vehicle occupants centers around Newton’s Laws of Motion. The physics of a car crash do not change, but the argument regarding the speed at which a vehicle occupant may sustain an injury is the question that is debated.

What Happens to My Body When My Car is Rear-Ended?

The reason for many injuries in a rear-end crash is that the center of your body (the torso) continues to move with the vehicle when your car is struck from behind. However, your neck and head remain stationary. When your body is propelled forward and your head remains stationary, your neck is subjected to extension and flexion as your head “whips” back and forward. The sudden motion damages the ligaments and tendons in the neck resulting in a soft tissue injury known as whiplash.

At low speeds, insurance companies argue that the neck is not whipped back and forth with enough violence to cause serious injury. At best, the person may sustain a minor strain that heals within a few days. However, it has been established that some individuals begin experiencing symptoms of whiplash in crashes involving extremely low speeds (5 mph).

While a minor case of whiplash can heal in a few days with rest, some individuals suffer from chronic neck pain and other complications. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Stiffness and neck pain
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulders and back
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Depression

Individuals injured in low-speed collisions should be evaluated independently to determine the extent of their injuries. An accident victim should not be compared to other victims and should not be treated as if he or she is not injured simply because a vehicle was not traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the collision.

Can A Person Sustain Brain Damage in a Low Impact Rear End Collision?

When the head snaps back and forth after a vehicle is struck from behind, the brain can move around within the skull. The violent, sudden movement can cause the brain to strike the skull causing damage to the delicate brain tissues, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion.

As with whiplash, an accident victim in a rear-end collision should be evaluated carefully to determine if the person sustained a TBI during the collision. Symptoms of concussion and TBI can be similar to whiplash and include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Speech problems
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech

TBI symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the brain injury. Anyone experiencing symptoms after a car crash should seek immediate medical attention.

Filing an Insurance Claim After a Rear-End Collision

Insurance companies treat low impact rear-end crashes different from other types of car accident claims. Many claims adjusters assume low speed rear-end crashes cannot result in significant injuries.

Therefore, they may deny injury claims without an adequate review of the medical evidence. It can be helpful to retain an experienced Maryland car accident attorney who understands how to handle claims involving low-speed collisions. An experienced attorney understands the evidence required to prove an injury claim and how to use the evidence to make a compelling argument.

Contact Our Maryland Car Accident Law Firm for Help

If the insurance company refuses to pay your claim, you need help. Our lawyers review your case and provide an honest evaluation. We can help you fight for your legal right to compensation for your car accident injuries.

Contact the Pinder Plotkin law firm by calling 410-525-5337 to request your free consultation with a Parkville personal injury lawyer.


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