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Posted on 04-29-2013

Low Property Damage Crashes Can Cause Injury to Occupants

One of my pet peeve's in clinical practice is when claims adjustors arbitrarily decide not to pay the medical/chiropractic bills of their insureds involved in auto accidents in Baltimore. They like to make the claims that their bumpers "only had a scratch" and that as such, there is no way the occupants of the vehicle could be injured. I typically remark that I am not a mechanic- that is, I don't care how much property damage a car has sustained...I don't treat the car, I treat the occupants of the car. They sometimes go on to imply that any individual treating with less than $1,000 in property damage to their vehicle (so called M.I.S.T. "minor impact soft tissue" cases) must be committing fraud and/or embellishing on their complaints.

The idea that a vehicle's property damage necessarily correlates with a patient's injury likelihood/severity has not ever been found to exist scientifically. Yet despite this, everyone from claims adjustors to lay people to patients always seem to "know" that there is a relationship. In my nearly 5 years as a Chiropractor I have seen several hundred patients that have sustained injuries in an auto accident. These run the gamut from no/low property damage to complex roll overs with brain trauma where occupants had to be extricated by the jaws of life. I use my experience clinically and my post graduate education to examine and grade an individual's injury. I do not pay much attention to property damage of a vehicle when assessing an individual's complaints.

 Dr. Arthur Croft in this month's "Dynamic Chiropractic" wrote an article where he succinctly describes the paradox between occupant injury and property damage in an article entitled "Reimbursement for Treating Crash Victims: Deconstructing the Objections". If you have about 5-10 minutes give it a read, it is really interesting.  It explains why it is possible to sustain significant injury even in cases of no/low property damage to a bumper. In the article he explains the paradox:

"A general understanding of collision mechanics goes a long way to explain this seeming paradox involving speed and injury. Without delving into too much depth here, the vehicle is relatively stiff in lower-speed ranges: it does not undergo crush or mechanical deformation here. Much of the kinetic energy of the collision is used to accelerate the vehicle and its occupant.

When the speed of the crash is high enough that the bumper energy absorber, bumper reinforcing bar, struts, or even frame elements are damaged, two things happen: (1) the kinetic energy used to deform these structures is no longer available to accelerate the vehicle; and (2) the duration of the collision is increased. And, since acceleration is equal to the change in velocity (delta V) divided by the time of the change in velocity (delta T), a relatively long collision pulse translates into less acceleration."

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you have been involved in an auto accident in Baltimore City or Baltimore County and you are injured- get the care you need. A delay in care will only potentially lead to a chronic condition that will lead to the need for more care in the future.  Don't let an insurance company dictate your care. You know your body. You know when you don't feel right, and only you know what "normal" is for you.

At Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic Dr. Gulitz, a Baltimore Chiropractor, routinely treats individuals involved in auto accidents with little to no property damage. Many times these clients do not have huge injuries that require a lot of care and that is great. But when they do require a lot of care and coordination with other providers, Dr. Gulitz is happy to help as well.

Regardless of property damage to your vehicle, if you are in pain from an auto accident in Baltimore, call Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500 or email us. We would be glad to help!

Dr. Gulitz


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