Minor Crash? Major Settlement! Here is how.

It has become very much in vogue for auto insurance carreirs to outright deny claims from victims of car and truck crashes where the damage to the vehicles involved is minimal. The reasoning advanced (if at all) is that a correlation exists between vehicle damage and bodily injury. Minor damage crashes produce minor injuries and major damage crashes produce major injuries.

This reasoning has been shown to be fallacious by a variety of studies as many people walk away from catastrophic car and truck crashes with little or no injury and many people sustain permanent or persistent injuries in collsions for which the vehicle property damage is nominal.

Some of this phenomenon is the fact that modern vehicles are designed to better withstand crashes but still impart a great deal of force to their occupants. The physics are quite simple. If two 3000 pound objects strike one another, their effect on each other is far less great than if a 3000 pound object struck a 150 pound human being. In professional football we often see huge 330 pound lineman clobbering 200 pound quarterbacks with considerable ill effect on the quarterback.

Just imagine if the defensive lineman weighed 10 times as much and you can appreciate that the traumatic forces of a crash can have a major injurious effect on a 200 pound quarterback as well.

So how is it that the lawyers at Clark and Steinhorn, LLC can extract large settlements and verdicts from cases the insurance carriers adamantly refuse to pay on? The answer is persistence.

We routinely receive letters and phone calls from insurance adjusters telling us that they won't pay on such cases and we ignore their assertions and proceed with the case as usual. We may alert the client that the insurance company won't voluntarily pay so the client understands why the case may go on longer than usual and why it may need to go into a lawsuit.

Once the client has completed their treatment and has attained maximum medical improvement from their injuries we file a lawsuit and treat the case the same as one with cataclysmic vehicle damage. Once the case is litigation we tend to hear less about the property damage and more about our client's injuries.

We  contact our client's treating physicians and ensure that they support the causal relationship between any crash and an alleged injury no matter how great or little the property damage. In our experience physicians do not see property damage as pertinent to evaluating what injuries someone sustained and what treatment they require. 

Of course the insurance industry has a cadre of doctors to whom they send injured people in order to obtain expert opinions that the victims of crashes can't be all that hurt but that proves true whether the cars and trucks are totalled or not.

Another element of this process is understanding that many people in car accidents reinjure parts of their bodies for which they have previously received medical care. A comparatively minor crash can produce profound problems for someone with a preexisting back or neck injury. This is because of their susceptibility to injury.

In law school everyone learns about the so-called "thin-skulled plaintiff". This individual literally has a thin skull and when subject to a minor force from someone else, it fractures their skull. The force applied to their skull may not injure a healthy skulled person but the bottom line is that a person who negligently has contact with the thin skull, is responsible for the full effect.

This principle applies to all people and the legal concept is that "you take people as you find them" meaning that if you run into the rear of another vehicle at a low rate of speed and visit minor damage on their vehicle, you are nonetheless responsible for the forseeable consequences even if the person whom you struck had just received back surgery the day before.

If you have a crash get an experienced car accident attorney who can guide you through the process and help you obtain a fair settlement or verdict.


Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer