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Understanding the often serious toll of low-speed car crashes

The simple yet unfortunate truth is that every day here in New Jersey, there are motorists who are going to be involved in low-speed car accidents caused by everything from running a red light and distracted driving to speeding and tailgating.

While many people label these types of crashes as being relatively minor or as a "fender bender," this characterization perhaps serves to oversimplify the extent of the damage done. In other words, it's important to understand and appreciate that even those car accidents which occur at relatively low speeds can still cause serious personal injuries.

To illustrate, consider the following information offered by medical professionals concerning some of the misperceptions associated low-speed car crash injuries.

  • While people are quick to dismiss claims of neck and back trauma in low-impact collisions, the reality is that the small groups of muscles that stabilize the spine are forced to react/contract very quickly in the event of a crash. This split-second reaction, in turn, can cause a person to suffer sustained back pain for days, weeks or even months after a collision. 
  • The common thought is if an airbag deploys at a low speed, the motorist can't possibly have suffered any sort of serious injuries, let alone head injuries. The reality, however, is that those involved in car accidents whose heads make contact with airbags can still suffer concussions, which are typically manifested through symptoms like nausea, blurred vision, memory problems and unconsciousness. Furthermore, the force of the airbag can cause the compression/flexing of the rib cage, which can lead to fractures and even internal injuries
  • People mistakenly believe that if victims are able to get out of their automobiles and walk around after the accident, that they must be fine. Outside of the concussion risk detailed above, these victims may unknowingly have suffered broken bones in their legs or hips. In order to test whether this is true, medical professionals will typically strike the bottom of the victim's foot with their palm to see if there is any pain radiating upward, a sign of broken bones 

All of this serves to underscore the importance of accident victims securing the necessary medical examination after a low-speed collision. While it may seem unnecessary at the time, the failure to do so could potentially have long-term repercussions.

Those who discover -- or already know -- that they have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver should then strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about their rights and their options.

Source: Atlanta Magazine, "Walking away from a car crash," Christine Van Dusen, Oct. 9, 2013

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