Getting Hit From Behind – A Very Common Accident
The rear-end collision is the most common. Often it is the result of the other driver going too fast or being distracted. Many times the at-fault driver was adjusting the radio dial or dialing their cell phone. These collisions especially are severe in rush hour traffic on I-275, I-75 and I-71, when sudden lane changes take place. They also are common around construction corridors, because some motorists fail to adjust for the changed traffic flow.
These collisions cause a variety of injuries, including
- Low, middle and upper back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Joint pain
- Bone injuries, particularly the hand and elbow
Whiplash and Others Associated Injuries
Probably the injury most often associated with this variety of collision is the hyperflexion-hyperextension cervical problem. This is known by everyone, simply, as “whiplash.” It is unfortunate that this injury has been maligned by the media because some individuals have falsely represented their symptoms. Medical science has not yet produced a reliable and definitive diagnostic measurement for these “subjective” injuries.
It is the nature of these connective tissue whiplash injuries that there is a delay in symptoms. Sometimes the neck, back and headache pain does not onset for a day or two. The medical journal Spine has reported that lower back pain can take many days or even weeks to become genuinely hurtful.
Claims Adjusters are Skeptical of Rear-End Collision Injuries
The human cervical column is not very effective at sustaining pronounced impact. The fact is that nearly any variety of vehicle can transfer tremendous vibrating impact and force, from its steel frame, to those inside. Especially vulnerable are the head and neck, which can snap violently with even minimal jolting. The position of the head and body at the moment of impact can make a large difference in the type and degree of injury. But rear-end collisions can result in serious pain and even disability.
Many rear-end collision claims can be processed by the victim, without the input of a lawyer. Commonly, victims of rear-end collisions assume early on that they have a strong case. Since they were not at fault – often waiting for the light to turn green – they expect to receive fair pain-and-suffering compensation.
The reality is that insurance companies usually are dismissive towards claimants who are injured when struck from behind. If the medical bills are not that high, then it might be best for the victim to process their own claim.
Games Insurance Adjusters Play
If the collision was not substantial, and your injuries could be designated as relatively minor, then you can expect the other driver’s insurance company to act in predictable ways.
The adjuster will say that since there was rather minor damage to the vehicle, therefore there could not have been serious injury to you. This will be argued, even though engineering expert witnesses have no trouble revealing the dishonesty of this position. It is well known that the impact of vehicles cannot be a reliable predictor of the extent of bodily injury for occupants. Expert witnesses are expensive and so the adjuster will bank on you not hiring one.
The adjuster will claim that since your car has a head restraint, you could not have suffered injury. Many peer-reviewed studies have exposed this assertion as untrue. The often-cited “ramping effect” underscores the physics of cars at impact. The force from behind ramps up the front of the car. This forces the driver’s body upward as their seat shifts downward. This can be up to at least 2 inches in even a small wreck.
If you did not complain of pain to the responding officer, then the argument of the insurance company will be that it is “common sense” you were not hurt. However any medical provider can tell you that, with connective tissue injuries, it is to be expected that symptoms appear later. The delay-of-symptoms reality, even well known among laymen, will not deter the adjuster from denying your claim, or offering little. The adjuster will guess that if it’s not worth taking to court, you effectively have no recourse anyway.
If there is a lack of objective findings, such as x-rays or MRIs, to establish bone fracture, then your injuries will be derided. Diagnostic measures, such as x-rays, are not able to establish pain of the soft tissue variety. The adjuster will claim your subjective soft tissue injuries cannot be proven.
The adjuster will say your muscle strain is minor and that they heal within a few days or weeks. Many medical studies offered by orthopedists demonstrate the contrary. The majority of vehicle accident whiplash patients do not resolve for about 6 months. And many such injuries can persist for many long months before there is relief.
Insurance companies have a favorite line of attack. They regularly argue that the claimant suffered from a pre-existing degenerative disc disease, and that is the real cause of symptoms. The reality is that these processes are related to normal aging and that even people in their thirties have this at play. Compensation should be deserved for the increased vulnerability of the cervical column. It sustains injury when the cervical discs are disrupted or ruptured, because of the negligence of the bad driver. Degeneration and natural drying out of the spinal column should increase the settlement amount, not lessen it. This is because you were at even greater vulnerability.
If you have been involved in a significant wreck, struck from behind, and have suffered incapacitating injury, then you likely have a claim that a lawyer should aggressively pursue.