A settlement of $1.3 million has been received by a former Philadelphia police officer as a result of a rear-end collision which caused only minor damage to his vehicle. The officer was on duty when he stopped at a red light and was tapped in the rear by a young woman who failed to stop in time.
Even though the force of the collision was only minor and neither car suffered significant damage, the officer suffered a nerve injury to his right arm which made it impossible for him to handle his weapon and ended his police career.
This is typical of many situations which we see in our cases at Lowry & Associates. It is intuitive to assume that if there is little damage to the vehicles in a rear-end collision, then the occupants cannot have received any significant injuries. However this is far from the truth. In fact more damage to the vehicle indicates that it has absorbed more of the force of the impact resulting in less being transmitted to the occupants. Slight damage to the vehicle may indicate that more of the force has been delivered to the people in the car, thus producing more serious injury.
Insurance adjusters should be aware of this principle of physics, but we find that time after time we are faced with the argument that slight damage to the car is proof that the person inside was not injured.