Car Wreck Neck Injury: The Bumper Did It!

car accident bumperOne of the common comments heard from insurance adjusters in low speed rear-end impacts is: “There was minimal or no damage to the car.” They have this wrong idea that if the car was not damaged, then the occupants cannot be injured. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth and the fact there is no car damage can be the reason the occupants are injured!

The truth is, the actual design of the car bumper can be the reason low speed impacts can result in an injury. Bumper stiffness has been a major issue in the insurance industry. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates cars on how expensive it is to repair bumpers after low speed collision. The goal is to make them stiffer, so there is less damage and thus less expensive to fix. However, research demonstrates that this can be a significant contributor to injury.

One study looked at whether changes in bumper designs – aimed at creating stiffer, more rigid components (which dissipate less energy during a collision) – cause higher acceleration speeds during accidents, predisposing towards more injury. This study noted that the modern rigid bumpers could be a factor in increased reported injuries. (1)

Another study demonstrated that the lack of vehicle crush dramatically increases the peak acceleration of the occupants to a dangerous level. (2) Thus increasing the likelihood of occupant injury.

The antithesis of this scenario is seen in a typical NASCAR collision where the car literally disintegrates and the driver walks away. We wonder how do they escape unharmed? The reason for their seemingly miraculous survival is that each piece of car that flew off absorbed and dissipated some of the force of impact.

Unfortunately, the more ridged bumpers do not deform thereby transferring the force of impact to the weakest area – the human driver! Thus, the reason you can have serious injury with a low speed impact: The Bumper Did It!

If you have experienced a low speed car collision and are experiencing neck pain, there is a logical reason. Call our office at (314) 731-4383 to schedule an appointment to find out how the extent of your injury.

1 Siegmund GP, Heinrichs, BE, Chimich DD, DeMarco AL, Brault JR. The effects of collision pulse properties on seven proposed whiplash injury criteria. Accident Analysis & Prevention 2005;37:275-285
2 Robbins MC. Lack of relationship between vehicle damage and occupant injury. SAE 970494