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Low Speed Impact Myth

Insurance adjusters and defense lawyer continue to perpetuate the “low speed impact myth”, namely that personal injuries can not, and do not, result from a low speed impact where there was a low speed collision with minimal property damage.

Scientific research has shown that impact speeds of approximately 9 miles per hour are necessary to cause structural deformity to the vehicle. Yet, there is a consensus in the scientific literature that only 4-5 mph is the probable threshold for cervical injury if there is a proper head support and as low as 2.5 miles per hour where the headrest is not at a proper location.

It must be remembered that the “whiplash” effect of an acceleration-deceleration trauma causes far greater forces to the head than to the vehicle, in fact 2.5 times more!!!

Research has shown that it is rare that the headrest is positioned to provide optimal protection to the whiplash victim. Even when the headrest is positioned for optimal protection, a “ramping effect” is often produced in a low-speed impact. This “ramping effect” occurs by the straightening of the spine or the mechanical interactions between the seatback and the torso, causing the shoulders, head and neck to vertically accelerate up the seatback and beyond the head rest, thus reducing its effectiveness.