The trend among insurance adjusters seems to be to suggest that because there is a small amount of damage to a vehicle that there cannot be a significant injury to the occupant inside of the car. This is false, and isn’t supported by the science, but is a movement that seems to be gaining traction at least among the insurance defense folks.
One thing I think is important to understand when it comes to a car accident is that the vehicles we are driving are wonderfully designed with safety being considered at every turn. From the bumpers, to the air bags, to the head rest, so much is being considered in making the vehicles safe. What cannot be forgotten though is a basic understanding of momentum and more simply, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
The best example of transfer of energy is a pool cue ball striking the 8 ball. When the cue ball strikes the 8 ball, it stops moving, and the 8 ball starts moving. The transfer is efficient, because neither ball can deform.
Take this example and consider a rear end collision between two cars. One is stopped and one is moving. The energy that the moving vehicle has doesn’t magically disappear when it contacts the parked car when it hits the bumper. Quite the opposite. If the bumper does not deform, the vehicle experiences the change of speed very quickly – and so do the occupants. The energy doesn’t disappear, and the car still experiences the impact. Sometimes a car will be pushed forward, and the jerking impact of a sudden start and stop on the driver can cause significant injury.
A good understanding of the mechanics of injury and energy transfer is important for your lawyer to have in a car accident case. How the case is presented to the insurance company and how the lawyer understands the mechanics of your particular injury will dramatically impact how your case is valued and what ends up in your pocket when it’s time to settle your case.
Why am I so sore even though my car isn’t that damaged?
The history of vehicles shows that a dramatic shift in how safety was approached occurred in the mid 1980’s with the computer revolution. Design changes focused on safety were able to occur much quicker and car manufacturers were able to research design changes much quicker – thus making improvements in safety much more cost effective.
Bumpers are an area that has been at the forefront of this movement. The original bumpers were outside or separate from the body of the car and were made from a robust alloy. The bumper was a visual compliment. The bumper itself was considered sacrificial to the overall vehicle – the goal was to save the body from an expensive repair.
Advances in bumper technology in the 1980s led to bumpers being moved to behind a urethane bumper cover, which because they were no longer visible, it allowed the bumpers to be constructed with more strength and energy absorbing material. Paint quality advanced as well – so that the paint resisted cracking and flaking and became more flexible.
Because of these changes, minor collisions do not appear as serious as they once did. The car itself is damaged less. This is great for the cars, and great for insurance companies paying to repair cars, but you cannot trick science and you cannot get around basic tenants of physics. These changes have made the energy transfer in low impact crashes less obvious and less costly, but you cannot change the amount of energy.
It is rare in low impact cases that this type of analysis is done, but if you were to look at the materials below the skin of the bumper for internal damage, you would see the result of a low speed impact on the vehicle. You can also examine the angle of a passenger seat because in a low impact accident you can often see the seat angle changes showing a force transfer. You can also examine the chassis to see if the frame is “plumb.” The chassis can be distorted in a low end collision based on energy transference.
So the answer to the question of why are you sore after an accident with only minor damage is simply put, physics. We can make cars able to withstand impacts for structural reasons, and repair costs, but we cannot fool the physics that lead to a transfer of energy. The energy is still going somewhere, and that somewhere is your back and neck oftentimes. The idea that small impacts equal small injuries is a fallacy pushed by insurance companies to avoid paying you what your case is worth.
This is another great reason why it’s important to engage an attorney well versed in the physics of auto accidents who is going to understand that a small impact doesn’t automatically mean a small case.
Involuntary conservatorship vs. voluntary conservatorships in Connecticut law:
I have been practicing in Connecticut Probate Courts for over ten years now and the conservatorship process is one that is a large portion of the cases that are handled there. I want to review the differences between the two types of conservatorships because I see that they are often times confused by the parties involved, even attorneys who may not spend a lot of time in probate court.
The involuntary proceeding is a taking of one persons liberty rights and giving them to a third party. The court concludes, usually after reviewing medical testimony and testimony of family, friends or interested parties, that due to a mental or cognitive impairment, a person’s ability to make their own decisions is impaired. If the Court reaches that conclusion, then the court has to decide who should be making decisions for the conserved person.
The Court will consider the preferences of the conserved party, both during the hearing if they are able to express it, and also a stated preference in documents such as wills, health care directives and power of attorneys. The Court will consider the fitness of the proposed conservator. They will consider his history. Does he have a poor track record with money? Is there a financial conflict of interest with the conserved person? Does the proposed conservator have a history of foreclosure, bankruptcy or poor financial management? These are all things the Court will consider in an involuntary proceeding.
A voluntary proceeding is different, because it comes with the Court specifically affirming that a person has the ability to make their own decisions. The person doesn’t have to be perfect cognitively, they have to be able to show that they understand they have the right to manage their affairs and they understand that they are delegating that abilty to a third party. A voluntary conservatorship is a lot like a power of attorney, except it comes with added protections of oversight from the Court as well as public filings of inventories and accountings. A voluntary conservatorship can also be terminated by written notice to the probate court, while an involuntary proceeding can only be terminated by restoration (the person recovers) or death.
Conservatorships are complex, and the process from the initial hearings to the final accountings is challenging for a non probate lawyer to handle, let alone a lay person without training. It is my consistent suggestion that people retain an attorney to help them file for conservatorship, as well as to help them comply with required guidelines for conservatorships under state law.
As a Hamden CT personal injury attorney, I work tirelessly toward securing the compensation you need to pay for all accident-related costs, including medical care and lost income, as well as pain and suffering. Your award may also include compensation for property damages, such as any damage done to your vehicle. You and your family shouldn’t have to experience financial strain after your accident. Hold the liable party responsible by filing a claim with my help. I am not afraid to stand up to insurance companies in pursuit of fair compensation for my clients.