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What are Biomechanical Engineers looking at when analyzing a low speed impact?

Low Speed impacts are generally considered to be those that take place at speeds under 10 mph. There's often little, if any, visible damage done to the rear of the motor vehicle impacted. However, those who are struck can have injuries, especially neck injuries. There is often controversy regarding the likelihood of injuries sustained when one car strikes another at a relatively low speed with little or no vehicle damage. Plaintiffs often claim injuries whereas defendants counterclaim that injuries could not have occurred with such a relatively minor impact. A biomechanical engineer is often brought in to analyze the collision to determine if, in fact, the injuries claimed could have been caused by the low speed impact.

What are some of the things the biomechanical engineer should consider when analyzing a low speed impact?

•  Body Position: The position the body is in at the moment of impact has significant bearing on the type of injuries and the extent of injuries sustained.
•  Pre-existing conditions: Significantly degenerated or previously injured body parts may affect the injury threshold for specific injuries.
•  Impact Anticipation (Bracing): The anticipation of an impending collision may result in bracing for the impact at the time of collision. Which could affect the potential for the severity of types of injuries.
•  Injury mechanism: Occupant motion at the time of collision and forces applied to the body should be compared to known mechanisms which typically create permanent injury.
•  Delta V (Collision severity): The damages and resulting severity of the impact will affect the severity of the motions and forces applied to the occupants of the vehicle.
•  Occupational job description/recreational activities: If the plaintiff’s job description has them, for example, toting 50 lb packages all day or playing in a Rugby League on the weekends, this, may change what the claimed injuries could be attributed to and may also affect the individuals injury threshold for loading.

CED Technologies has biomechanical engineers on staff, trained to investigate low speed impact. If you have a case or claim involving a motor vehicle accident, call at 800-780-4221 or contact us to be connected with one of our experts.


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Jonathan P. Walter

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Slip and Fall/Trip and Fall
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