What Constitutes a Minor Impact Collision?

Minor impact collision is a phrase used by liability insurance adjusters to describe an automobile accident where the visible property damage to the vehicle is such that it either cannot be seen by the naked eye or appears to be indicative of a low-velocity collision.  Any collision in which the physical damage to the vehicles makes the collision visibly appear like nothing more than a fender bender is considered a minor impact collision.

Can People Be Injured in a Minor Impact Collision?

Yes. There is absolutely no correlation between the amount of the property damage to the vehicles and the existence or degree of injury to the vehicle occupants. Everyone has heard stories of car accidents where a person died in what seemed like a minor impact collision as well as cases where the vehicles were crushed and the occupants walked away without a scratch.

What Factors Determine if You Are Injured in a Car Accident?

Whether or not a person is injured in a car accident is determined by numerous factors that may include:

  • The age of the occupant.
  • The angle of the impact.
  • Whether a seatbelt was worn.
  • The physical condition of the occupant.
  • The sex of the occupant.
  • The height and/or weight of the occupant.
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions of the occupant.
  • The velocity of the impact.
  • The location of the occupant in the vehicle.

At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. we have made successful recoveries in minor impact cases where there was less than $500 in damage to the vehicle but the occupant suffered serious injuries such as:

  • A detached retina,
  • A brain bleed,
  • A cervical fusion,
  • An aggravated pre-existing condition in the spine,
  • An injury to the tempomandibular joint (TMJ).

Why is it Hard to Find a Lawyer for a Minor Impact Case?

Finding an attorney who will take on a minor impact collision case can often be difficult, particularly if you have an injury that is not visible and readily explained by the facts such as a whiplash injury. No one else can see your whiplash injury. There is no objective test for it which can make it very difficult to prove your case to a jury who does not know you. Insurance companies refer to these types of claims as MIST claims or minor impact soft tissue claims. Often there are other factors at play that may affect why a lawyer will not take your case. Keep in mind that just some lawyers will not take it does not mean that there are not others who will.

Minor Impact Claims and Juries

Insurance companies know that juries are skeptical of plaintiffs claiming injuries that cannot be seen or objectively verified. Jurors have a tendency to associate the lack of visible property damage with no injury despite the research and proof that the two do not correlate. Thus, when  the property damage is low and no visible injury, a defense lawyer often has a higher chance of successfully arguing to a jury that the vehicle occupants simply “could not have been hurt by such a little fender bender.”  While the argument may not be scientifically true, all a defense lawyer must do is convince three of the twelve jurors to believe it and the defense wins.

As a result of the success of the use of low property damage as a defense, insurance companies tend to push Minor impact soft tissue files to trial. To have a chance to win, plaintiff’s lawyers often will have to spend the money to bring expert testimony to try to convince the jury that the plaintiff really is injured in these kinds of cases.  This kind of expert testimony can be very costly and does not guarantee a win.  Since most plaintiff’s personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis—meaning they front the expenses and only recover those and get paid a fee if they win—personal injury attorneys tend to be very selective about taking on cases we know are likely to go to trial.

Minor Impact Claims We May Accept

We evaluate every case that comes to us on its own merit. The reality is that not every case is financially feasible to pursue. However, whether or not an attorney will take your case and assume the risks involved must be determined on a case-by-case basis by the individual attorney. Generally, we are more likely to accept a minor impact case if there is a visible injury, a serious bodily injury such as broken bones or internal damage from a seat belt injury, an elderly occupant or something that otherwise enables us to establish a clear connection between a low-velocity collision and an injury directly produced therefrom.

Free Case Evaluation

If you have been injured in an accident and have been either unable to find representation or unable to get the insurance company to take your case seriously, call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., for a free case evaluation.  If we agree to investigate and/or handle your case, we work on a contingency fee basis so that there is no cost to you upfront and no fees or expenses charged by us to you unless we make a recovery. Call us at (713) 932-0777 today.

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