The Dangers of a Low-Speed Collision and Accident

low speed

The common saying “speed kills” is true. Statistics show that a 1% increase in speed triggers a 3% increase in serious crash risk and a 4% increase in fatal crash risk. 

But, this doesn’t mean that low-speed, low-impact accidents can’t cause injuries. 

Low-impact accidents can cause whiplash, TBIs, and more. Just because the other car wasn’t going a hundred miles an hour doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to fair compensation for your injuries. 

Unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t shy of trying to play down the severity of injuries. If you were involved in a low-speed car accident, you might be made to feel like your injuries can’t possibly be as bad as you think. 

This can be very frustrating, and unjustly reduce the amount of compensation you receive. 

Another danger around low-impact car accidents is that the victims themselves assume they can’t be badly injured. This can impact your healing timeline, insurance claim amount, and increase the risk of long-term complications. 

Avoid this and keep reading to get clued up on the dangers of a low-speed collision. 

Low-Speed Collisions Can Cause Serious Neck Injuries

One of the biggest risks of a low-speed car accident is whiplash and resulting neck injuries. 

Low-impact collisions can cause surprisingly serious neck injuries. It’s easy to assume that the higher the impact, the worse potential neck injuries will be, but this isn’t necessarily the case. 

Even a small bump from another car can send your head jolting backward, causing your neck to be hyperextended. Analysis shows that even a 2.5 mph change in velocity during a crash can increase the risk of developing a neck injury by 20%.

In low-impact collisions, your head and neck are likely to move faster than the colliding cars. The car might only jerk momentarily, but this is often more than enough to snap your head forward or backward.

This action can injure the neck, spine, and upper back. It can result in the tearing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and cause nerve damage. 

Unfortunately, seat belts don’t do much to protect vehicle occupants from whiplash. If anything, they can make whiplash worse.

Seat belts are designed to keep you securely in your seat and stop you from slamming into the dashboard or flying through the windscreen. Because they keep your body locked against the seat, this increases the forces which must be absorbed by your head and neck when cracked back and forth by the impact of a collision.  

TBIs Can Also Occur During Low-Impact Car Accidents

Bumps and blows to the head are the most well-known causes of traumatic brain injuries. But TBIs can also happen if you experience a sudden jolt to the neck and head. 

TBIs can range from mild to serious. Symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures 
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Decreased co-ordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Confusion

If untreated, TBIs can cause long-term issues, such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Foggy thinking
  • Sensory overload
  • Difficulty controlling impulses

In severe cases, TBIs can also cause partial paralysis.

The healing timeline for TBIs can vary widely, ranging from a few weeks to six months or more. Mild concussions can heal within a few weeks, but for more serious brain injuries it can take up to two years. 

Serious injuries to the brain can result in severe and permanent disability.

A Low-Speed Collision Can Affect Your Lumbar Spine

Besides injuring your neck and head, a low-speed collision can also affect your lumbar spine. 

Again, it might not seem likely that a low-impact collision can injure your back badly. But just because a low-impact crash is less dramatic and scary doesn’t mean that your body didn’t undergo any strain. 

During a jolt from a rear-ender, the lumbar spine undergoes highly complex load paths, including compression, anterior and posterior shear, flexion, and rearward and forward bending.

All of this happens in less than 0.25 seconds, which places a high load rate on the spine and back muscles. When the body is under a high load rate, the tissues become stiffer and more brittle. 

Think of it like this. When you flex your arm, the muscle is harder and less soft and bouncy than when it’s relaxed. 

Unfortunately, disc tissues and ligaments are more likely to suffer damage under high loading. This is why even a non-serious accident that happens at low speeds can cause lower back pain and lumber spine injuries. 

A Low-Impact Car Accident May Result in Herniated Disks

Herniated disks are another injury that is usually associated with high-speed collisions, but can also be triggered by a low-impact collision. 

Depending on the condition of your spine and its disks, and what it’s subjected to during the impact—one of the disks might crack. 

Herniated disks can cause numbness, muscle pain, and weakness. 

Disk herniation is usually rare in low-speed collisions, but it can still happen. You might also be at an increased risk of getting a herniated disk if you are older or already suffer from spinal issues. 

Low-Impact Accidents Can Cause Nerve Damage

Nerve damage is another potentially serious injury that can result from a low-speed collision. 

If your spine is injured during the accident, you could suffer from partial or complete paralysis, as well as secondary conditions such as loss of bowel or urinary function and respiratory problems. 

A Low-Impact Collision Might Worsen Existing Issues

Another thing to note about low-impact collisions is that they might make existing conditions a whole lot worse. 

For instance, if you already struggle with chronic back pain, scoliosis, or degenerative disc disease, the impact of even a low-speed car accident could exacerbate the condition. 

Seeking Medical Help After a Low-Impact Car Accident

One of the most common car accident claim mistakes is not seeking comprehensive medical help. Prompt medical attention is essential for a full recovery. It can also play a pivotal role in your car accident case. 

Even if you don’t feel like you’re injured, it’s still important to get a medical examination. Some car accident injuries, such as TBIs, might not trigger immediate symptoms. 

Symptoms can sometimes manifest days or weeks after an accident. Delaying treatment for TBIs and spine trauma can be dangerous and prolong the healing timeline. 

Seeking prompt medical attention can also increase the chances of a successful claim and fair settlement. Your medical records after a car accident are a key piece of evidence.

Getting a medical examination right away can also forestall shady tactics on the part of your insurance company.

If you delay treatment, the insurance company might take advantage of this, and claim that your injuries can’t be significant, otherwise, you would have seen a doctor sooner. 

This can be especially likely for a low-impact car accident. Insurance companies are known for using “junk science” to try and downplay the severity of low-speed collisions. 

Getting swift medical attention and treatment can give you the evidence you need to show that just because your car isn’t a mangled wreck, doesn’t mean that your injuries aren’t significant. 

Why Legal Representation Is So Important for Low-Speed Accidents

If you’ve been in a low-speed collision, you might assume that the situation isn’t serious enough for you to hire a car accident lawyer

In a perfect world, you’d be able to get just compensation from the insurance company without any hassles. However, insurance companies exist for one purpose, and that is to make a profit. 

The less they can pay out in claims, the better this is for their bottom line. 

Unfortunately, low-impact collisions can be a recipe for unfair compensation. On the surface, low-speed collisions might not look like a big deal, but if you’ve been hurt, you deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, any lost earnings, and any future ramifications your injuries might have. 

It can be relatively easy for an insurance carrier to lowball you if you were in an accident that didn’t involve a lot of visible damage. Some insurers even go as far as to claim that the impact from a low-speed accident is the same as sneezing or coughing, so why should you have any injuries? 

As we’ve outlined above, low-impact crashes can still cause serious injuries. Being rear-ended, even at low speeds, is not the same as sneezing. 

Hiring a car accident lawyer will level the playing field between you and the insurer or defense, and give you the best odds of receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries. 

Have You Been in a Low-Speed Accident?

As you can see, low-speed crashes can cause high-impact problems, ranging from TBIs and whiplash injuries to lower back pain and spine injuries that can cause persistent pain and even disability in some cases. 

Have you been in a low-impact car accident and need a car accident attorney on your side? If yes, we are the people to speak to.

The team here at Sweet Lawyers specializes in car accident cases. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay a cent unless we win your case. 

Contact us for a free consultation 

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