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Posted on 06-29-2015

Vehicle Override/Underride During Baltimore Auto Accidents

The theme of the majority of my blog posts generally involves Baltimore auto accidents and Baltimore car accident injuries. I spend the majority of my time treating headaches, neck pain, back pain, and radicular complaints associated with auto accident injuries in Baltimore. One of the themes that keeps coming up is whether or not an insurance company wants to accept liability for injured claimants. Typically these adverse insurance companies state that their insured(s) could not have injured the claimants (my patients) due to how little property damage was sustained by the claimant's vehicle. In past blog posts we discussed that there is no scientific link between property damage and occupant (claimant) injury. Rather, we determined that occupant kinematics and personal medical history (age, prior injuries, health status, seated position, preparedness for impact, etc.) are better predictive indicators for injury. With that said, I have treated several injured patients that have had severe injuries and some that even required surgical intervention where property damage to their vehicle was minimal.

The phenomenon that can help explain some of these cases where there are very serious injuries with very minimal property damage to a vehicle is called overriding and underriding.

Simply put, cars have front and rear-bumpers. These exist to help absorb an impact if two cars collide, and to help the occupant to "ride down" the crash. The bumpers absorb the tremendous forces that would otherwise be transferred to the vehicle's occupants and cause serious injury. Generally speaking, bumpers work well. However, for them to work optimally, there needs to be a direct interaction between one vehicles bumper and the other bumper. If the bumpers are offset laterally, or if one bumper is higher than an another, then they will not function optimally to absorb forces.

I've treated patients who were in small sedans (for example, a honda civic). The civic might be stopped at a red light and rear-ended by a large Ford F350 truck. In the instance where the F350 truck's bumper sits up off the road higher than the civic, it is entirely possible that the front bumper of the truck might override the civic's bumper. (Please keep in mind I do not know the road clearance measurements of these vehicle's bumpers, but instead, this is just a relative example). In this case, all of the force that would have been dissipated by the Civic's bumper gets transferred into the vehicle's frame, and carried through to the occupant. In this instance, the bumper damage to the civic may be minimal or non-existent, but the forces and injury to the occupant are real and severe. The trouble with this scenario is getting a claims adjustor, insurance company, or eventually a judge or jury to understand that due to the overriding of the bumpers, the occupant was injured.

It bears repeating that there is no clinical correlation between vehicular property damage and bodily injury. Sadly, most adverse insurance carriers are not concerned with an occupants injury, but rather, they are concerned with saving money and not paying out for legitimate injury claims. Unfortunately this often harms claimants whose vehicles were over or underridden, as their property damage may be lower than expected. As a result, their legitimate claims are often devalued or denied altogether.

Overriding and underriding of bumpers occurs very commonly in Baltimore auto accidents. It is imperative that the injured claimant should take their vehicle to a trusted body shop to search for other forms or property damage (frame damage, etc) that might otherwise have been missed. Only then, unfortunately, will an insurance company take their claim for injury seriously. It is also important that these injured claimants find a practice that understands these injuries and how to best treat them for maximal physical recovery.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a Baltimore auto accident, and require treatment for injuries sustained in a Baltimore auto accident, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to help!

Dr. Gulitz

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