Can Someone Be Injured In A Low-Speed Accident? – Yes!
Most motorists have experienced minor collisions and impacts if they have been driving for any time. There is a confusing issue surrounding the vehicle’s speed in an accident and the resulting injuries. Drivers involved in high-speed accidents in which significant damage to their vehicle results are not seriously injured; however, injuries occur to drivers engaged in lower-speed accidents in which the vehicle damage is minimal. On the face of it, this would seem to defy logic. Perhaps even more confusing is the all too common example of a horrific crash in which one of the vehicle’s passengers is killed while another walks away without a scratch.
These examples illustrate the obvious, i.e., that injury risk depends on many factors, which are not necessarily shared by all vehicle passengers equally. Accident factors include the speed of the vehicle, its change in velocity (delta V) as a result of the collision, and the acceleration forces resulting from the collision. From this, it is possible to roughly gauge the effects on the occupants. It is well known that a number of other factors can increase or mitigate the risk of injury. For example, in the classic whiplash trauma, females are at twice the risk as males. Persons who are unaware of the impending crash are at greater risk of injury than those who are able to brace themselves for the impact. Occupants with their heads turned at the time of impact have an increased risk of injury, as well as victims with a history of neck injury or neck pain. There are dozens of other factors which can also influence the risk of injury. To assess the actual risk in such a crash exposure, it is therefore helpful to know not only the crash dynamics but the human risk factors as well.
There have been a number of research studies involving crash tests in which living human subjects have been exposed to low-speed crashes. Some authors have reported that minor injuries occur in collisions where the delta-V is 5 MPH or above. Canadian researchers reported that more than 30% of their test subjects experienced minor injuries at speeds as low as 2.5 mph. These studies can tell us a great deal about crashes. However, they cannot tell us the minimum injury threshold. For example, we don’t know who will suffer the greatest injuries when comparing a middle-aged woman with a degenerative disease in her neck who was unaware of the impending crash with a man with a long history of recurrent bouts of headaches and neck pain. The studies show there is no known threshold crash exposure below which injury is impossible. There is no known crash speed below which injuries cannot occur.
If you have been in an accident and have pain, even if it is minor, consult with a doctor who has experience treating accident injuries. Our professional staff has over 20 years of experience in managing Personal Injury cases in the Hialeah – Miami Lakes area.
Author: Dr. Gary Robertson is a 1989 Palmer College of Chiropractic graduate. He has over 20 years of experience treating patients with accident injuries and has post-graduate training in Whiplash and Spinal Trauma, Spinal Biomechanics, and Spinal Rehabilitation. Dr. Robertson serves as the President of the Dade County Chiropractic Society.