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Low-Impact Collisions Can Lead to Serious Injuries

Car Accident — Everett, WA — Carter and Fulton, P.SLow-impact collisions are those that take place at speeds of less than 10 mph. Often there is little visible damage to the involved vehicles, or “hidden” damage that the involved insurance company purposefully does not look for.  Rear-end collisions are one of the most common low-impact collisions. Because they occur at such low speeds, many such accidents do not involve any injuries or vehicle damage. But this is not always the case. The injuries resulting from these types of collisions can be much more severe than people think.

These are some of the injuries you may experience and their causes.

How Physical Injuries Occur in a Collision

Today’s vehicles are built to sustain much more impact than vehicles in the past. This means you may see minimal visible damage to your vehicle from a low-impact collision.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that your body will also be undamaged. There are three collisions in play at the scene of every accident. They are:

  • The vehicular accident: This is the actual impact of the two cars. Following Newton’s laws of motion, the force from the car striking you will transfer corresponding kinetic force to your car and ultimately to you. Auto manufacturers now build a crumple zone into their designs to absorb some of this energy and reduce injuries.
  • The internal accident: This is the impact taking place inside of your body when the force of the impact causes your body’s muscles and organs to tense and shift, impacting each other and your skeletal frame. Even with the inclusion of the crumple zone, not all energy will be eliminated, and your body will be impacted.
  • The human collision: This is when your body collides with other items inside of your vehicle. Some of these may be your steering wheel, your headrest, or even your seatbelt. 

Because of all of the collisions taking place simultaneously, many types of injuries can occur. Some of these injuries may not show up for days or weeks following the accident.  Women, due to their musculature structure, are generally more prone to injury in such collisions.

Many injuries you may incur in a low-impact collision are soft-tissue injuries. Soft-tissue injuries occur when your muscles, ligaments, and tendons experience some type of trauma.

You may initially have bruising, swelling, or pain at the site of the injury, but over time the physical manifestation of these injuries will fade. Unfortunately, soft-tissue injuries can take a long time to heal, and up to 20% of such injuries never heal.

What Serious Injuries Can Occur in a Collision

Not all injuries from low impact collisions are minor. Two of the more severe injuries that can occur as a result of your accident include the following.


When you are struck, the force of the vehicle behind you continues through the vehicle and into your body, causing your head and neck to move as a result. This whipping or snapping motion strains the muscles and tendons in your neck, and sometimes tears ligaments, as well. 

Loss of range of motion in your neck due to stiffness and pain may be one of the first symptoms you experience, but you may also experience:

  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Low back pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness or tingling down your arms
  • Difficulty sleeping due to pain and stiffness

If your symptoms worsen over time, make sure you consult your physician. 

Traumatic Brain Injury or a Concussion

If the accident causes your brain to shake internally or you to strike your head, you may sustain a concussion. A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury, often referred as Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (“MTBI”). With rest, most concussions heal on their own within a few weeks, but up to 20% of individuals suffering concussions have long-term cognitive issues.  More serious concussions may require significant additional medical intervention. Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred or “fuzzy” vision
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Concentration issues
  • Unusual fatigue/needing excessive sleep
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Ringing in your ears

Never ignore the potential injuries that can come from a low-impact collision. Documenting your symptoms immediately is critical in such collisions. The National Transportation Safety Administration (NTSA) estimates approximately 2,000 deaths result per year from rear-end collisions, but many thousands of severe injuries result from such collisions.

Unfortunately, insurance companies often do not want to compensate you for your injuries in a low- impact collision. The adjusters often correlate the damage to your vehicle to the damage to your body, and nothing could be further from the truth. 

At the law offices of Carter & Fulton, P.S., we know how to deal with the insurance companies. Give us a call for a free evaluation of your case, so we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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