For years car insurance companies have been hammering personal injury attorneys on cases where the car that was hit showed little-to-no property damage. The theory being, how can your client possibly be hurt when the car involved had a minimal amount of property damage?
What’s “minimal” property damage? Believe it or not, most adjusters seem to think the $1,000 mark is the threshold. So, if it cost $900 to fix your car, there’s no way you can be injured. If it cost $1,010 to repair, okay, maybe you’re hurt. Ridiculous, isn’t it?
We know that cars manufactured today are specifically built to absorb an impact in a rear end collision. That’s why we have foam bumpers covered by a rubberized material. They are designed to take an impact in order to avoid a costly repair. Remember the old chrome bumpers which showed every nick, scrape and scratch? They were too costly to fix, so with these new parts in a rear end collision, a mechanic just simply changes the bumper cover.
The cost to change a chrome bumper was in the thousands of dollars; the cost to change a rubberized bumper cover is a few hundred dollars.
But does anyone doubt the transfer of momentum from car to car is just as substantial whether it’s a chrome bumper or a rubberized bumper? In other words, just because we’re making cheaper car parts doesn’t lessen the severity of the impact. This shows how absurd the car insurance company’s position is – the cost to make repairs should have no relation to whether or not a client has sustained an injury after being hit by a two ton piece of metal.
In fact, to add biomechanical insult to injury, let me add something else: When a car absorbs an impact and crumples up like a chrome bumper, it stops the momentum of energy right there. When you see a car that’s bent up like an accordion, it has done its job to protect the occupant. The punch was taken by the car.
In the case of impact resistant bumpers, it hasn’t absorbed the impact, it passed it along. When the rubberized bumper is hit, it’s like punching a pillow with someone on the other side. The pillow hasn’t stopped the momentum, you feel the punch on the other side. So, car manufacturers have actually made these rear end bumpers less safe since we know energy continues until it stops. If it doesn’t stop at the bumper, it continues to the next movable object, the driver. When the driver is hit with the impact, injury occurs.
Personal injury lawyers have been fighting this fight for years. Maybe you recall a particular televised car insurance company commercial a few years ago where a car was dropped head-first off a five story building and those watching saw it smash on the pavement below. A voiceover then said [paraphrasing]: “This 5 story drop is the equivalent of a 15 mile per hour impact. Protect yourself by buying our policy…”
Shortly after it aired, this company realized they were actually telling the truth! Imagine that: A relatively low speed impact can ruin a car and injure its occupants! Upon realizing they were hurting their legal defenses in personal injury cases, the ad was pulled, never to be seen again.
No, they’re not your good neighbor and no, you’re not in their good hands.