Low speed motor vehicle collisions are a common occurrence. The use of cellular phones, text messaging, and e-mailing while driving has only increased the frequency of low speed motor vehicle collisions. A collision where there is only minor damage to the vehicles may result in personal injury claims seeking substantial sums.
An approach that can give clarity to the issue of causation or aggravation of symptoms due to a low speed motor vehicle collision is the calculation of a numerical value for the forces experienced by the claimant in a collision.
This numerical value of forces can then be compared to the forces experienced in activities of daily living engaged in by the claimant. This will convert a situation dependent upon medical opinions based upon subjective complaints into objective numbers that can be used in a fact based analysis.
The ability to calculate the forces in a motor vehicle collision and determine if the forces were sufficient to have caused the claimed injury is a rare skill which calls upon a specialized combination of medical and engineering expertise. Few physicians or surgeons have the training necessary to calculate such forces. When such skill is available, however, it can move determinations of causation or aggravation from the subjective to the objective realm.
The first step is for the expert is to determine the likely speed of collision between the two vehicles. This is based upon a review of the photographs of the vehicles after the impact. A skilled expert will have an ability to estimate the speed of collision based upon the damage to the vehicles. This is derived from observing many images of various vehicles in metered crashes.
In addition, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard mandates that automobiles be able to sustain a 2.5 mile per hour collision with only minor damage to the bumper.
Once an estimate of speed of the collision is obtained, the expert may then calculate the forces of collision using information about the mass of the vehicles. Calculation of force in pounds-force and G force are possible.
In summary, use of force calculations when performed by biomechanical engineers can provide an objective means to determine causation or aggravation of injury in low speed motor vehicle collisions. This can bring an objective measure of truth to situations that have been traditionally determined by opinion based upon subjective complaints.
Featured Engineer: Gary Brock, Jr., Ph.D. Biomechanical / Mechanical Engineer
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