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Low Speed Impact Crash
Low speed impact auto accidents, generally less then 10 m.p.h., are some of the most difficult collisions with which bodily injury can be linked. Insurance companies regularly discount these low speed impact crashes citing that speeds this low could not possibly cause serious bodily injury.
The insurance claims adjuster tends to base his or her decision on the fact that little or only very minor vehicle damage occurred. The insurance adjuster surmises that a scratch or barely visible dent at the impact site on the vehicle equates to a “scratch” or “barely visible” injury to the injured party.
Although five or ten miles an hour certainly sounds harmless enough if your car should strike a solid object (i.e., wall, tree, or concrete barrier), the human body was not built with a natural armor to withstand or counter the whiplash-effect that occurs during a vehicular collision.
Regardless of the speed at impact, you cannot pre-prepare your body to absorb the impact without sustaining some type of soft-tissue injury. Even if you see the accident about to happen, and you brace yourself, you are still going to experience some type of whiplash-action, particularly through the neck and shoulder areas. Likewise, it’s been shown the more you brace yourself for an impact, the worse it could make your injuries.
That’s one of the reasons that intoxicated individuals sometimes fare the best in auto accidents in Florida and all across the country.
Numerous studies and analyses are being conducted regarding these low speed impact crashes simply because insurance companies are seeing a rise in these types of claims, coupled with serious bodily injuries resulting from these accidents.
Side Impact Crash
A second type of crash is the side impact crash. These crashes are generally very serious, resulting in serious bodily injury, sometimes even death. Case in point, in 2000, 21% of all fatal auto accidents were caused by side impact collisions. It was also reported in 2000, that non-fatal side impact crashes comprised 25% of all auto collisions.
Even with the safety features installed like air bags, unless you have side air bags, chances are extremely high that your injuries will still very serious. The side impact jolts your body from side to side more likely causing severe head, neck and shoulder injury because your chances are greater of hitting a window. Even seat belts cannot deter injuries because the shoulder harness is designed to keep you from moving forward, not side to side. Injuries to the head, neck, shoulder, chest, arms and legs are common from side impact crashes.
Insurance companies are lobbying to make side air bags a standard feature in passenger vehicles because claims paid from side impact crashes tend to be much higher than from other types of auto accidents.
Frontal Impact Crashes
Just as serious as the side impact crash is the frontal impact crash. Even with the safety features such as air bags and shoulder harnesses, the speed and weight of the vehicle factor into what injuries may be sustained by the occupant. Crash tests which calculate the “crumple zone” and how well air bags protect the front seat occupants are constantly being performed to improve these safety features.
Frontal collisions are perhaps the most terrifying since the occupants can generally see the crash coming. This fear, in turn, causes them to automatically tense up which leads to worse injuries than had they been relaxed and remained limber. Injuries caused by frontal collisions are often the most serious because of the expansiveness of the injuries – from external injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations to internal bleeding and organ ruptures.
Frontal collisions are also the leading cause of traffic fatalities, even with the latest safety features such as driver and passenger airbags. Some of the higher end vehicles now have sensors that will sound off alarms if you are following another vehicle too closely or if a vehicle suddenly stops in front of you.
Although the number of rollover crashes are relatively low (less than 10% of auto accidents), they can still cause very serious injuries, particularly if the occupants are not wearing seat belts. Most seriously injured persons, including fatalities, were attributed to the occupants not wearing seat belts. Ejection from the vehicle, which happens frequently in a rollover accident, is the primary cause of death, which in most cases might have been avoided had the person been wearing a seat belt. Traumatic head injury is a very difficult injury to recover from.
The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that approximately 60% of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) were involved in rollover crashes. In addition, approximately 40% of fatalities occurred due to pickup trucks involved in rollovers.
The best way to prevent rollover accidents or limit rollover injuries is to always wear a seat belt, particularly the back seat occupants in an SUV or mini-van. Do not take turns at high speeds – the high center of gravity of these types of vehicles make them prone to rolling over. Also, over-correcting, or swerving on/off the roadway can cause the vehicle to flip. If you find your vehicle veering onto the shoulder of the roadway, simply ease off the accelerator allowing the vehicle to slow itself down, while gently applying the brakes until you can safely maneuver back onto the roadway.
All of these crashes are serious and should be treated as such. Do not discount your injuries simply because the impact was deemed a low speed impact. Insurance companies are finding out more and more information about these types of auto collisions and determining that serious injury can occur regardless of impact speed.
Also, always wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers are wearing their seat belt, regardless of where they are seated. Remember it is now the law in the state. If you drive an SUV or pickup truck, be aware of these vehicles’ tendency to rollover and drive them keeping this in mind.
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