Whiplash in Low Speed Collisions

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Sherrie Paterson,
4 days ago

A commonly held myth is that you cannot suffer an injury to your neck if you are involved in a collision at low speed.

It is often said that these low velocity collisions cannot cause injury. However, every day in the UK hundreds of people sustain genuine injuries as a result of low velocity impacts, with many of these resulting in long-term damage to the cervical spine (the neck).

It remains an unfortunate fact that the motor vehicle industry is yet to fully tackle the problem of whiplash prevention. This is clearly illustrated by the following statistics from the Association of British Insurers:

1,500 CLAIMS

1,500 whiplash claims are made in the UK every day


Whiplash claims cost insurers around £2 billion every year

Crumple zones

Modern cars are designed with crumple zones. In higher velocity impacts, the car crumples; the crumple zone acting as a cushion and absorbing much of the force of the crash so that it is not transferred to the occupants or, at least, is significantly reduced. Crumple zones are located at the front and rear many vehicles.


However, as anyone who has been involved in a low velocity impact will know, when the forces involved in a collision are minor, the cars crumple zone does not activate and all of the force of the collision is borne by the people inside the car – and the cervical spine, situated just beneath the head, typically bears more of this force than any other part of the body.


Of course, drivers and passengers involved in higher speed collisions are likely to sustain other serious injuries such as crush injuries and broken bones, but the activated crumple zone is there to hopefully take the brunt of the force. This is why the belief that whiplash injuries can't be sustained in low-speed collisions (which includes collisions where the vehicles are travelling as slow as 5mph) is false.

As such, it is an accepted paradox that the forces experienced by and applied to people inside cars can be worse in lower velocity impacts than in higher velocity collisions. And although whiplash injuries are sometimes portrayed by the tabloid media as minor and unimportant, their symptoms can last for weeks, months, years or even prove to be permanent.

The message from all of this is clear, your health is far too serious to take any risks or to try and diagnose your difficulties yourself. If you are involved in a collision you should see a doctor.

Thompsons; Scotland's leading personal injury firm

If you have been involved in a car crash, even if you are unsure whether you are able to make a compensation claim, contact our no win, no fee lawyers today on 0800 0891 331 so that we can assess your case and advise you on your first step towards receiving compensation.

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