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Low Velocity Collisions

If you have recently been involved in a road traffic accident you may have been told that the other party insurers will not pay out on any personal injury claim you may wish to make because there is little or no damage to the vehicles.

Why ?

Insurers say that the UK is “the whiplash centre of Europe” .  “Crash for Cash !” they say .  Compensation Culture gone wild.  The result is that if there is little or no damage to their insured’s vehicle they immediately question whether the occupant of either vehicles involved could have suffered a whiplash injury.  They will immediately inspect your vehicle and if the cost of repairs to either your vehicle and/ or their vehicle is under £500 they will refuse to pay out the claim.

To suffer a whiplash injury in a car accident your head would have to be flung forward and back.  It is this movement that gives the injury it’s name: “whiplash”.  The symptoms that follow on from this type of injury are usually neck pain and stiffness, headaches and sometimes symptoms radiating into the shoulder and upper back.

Where vehicles are travelling very slowly  (such as in stop start traffic) whilst you have been hit in the rear by the car behind you are unlikely to suffer a whiplash.  This is usually because the speed on impact is insufficient to move you sharply forward and back in this manner.  This speed is often referred to by motor engineers as the Delta V –  If one vehicle is moving at speed and strikes another vehicle the energy is transferred from the first vehicle to the second vehicle.  It is that energy that will cause the occupant to be flung forwards in the vehicle.  The vehicle has to be travelling at more than 5mph in order to transfer sufficient energy in order to move the victim.

In short therefore insurers say that where the vehicle was travelling at less than 5mph it is impossible to suffer a whiplash injury, as you simply could not have been moved in that manner.

There is understandably always a dispute as to the speed of the vehicles.  If you have ever had a vehicle drive into the rear of your car you will know what I mean when I say it always sounds worse than it is.  The noise is loud !  Most victims therefore always say “Oh he must have been going faster than 5mph – there was a really big bang”.

If there is a dispute as to the speed of the vehicles the insurers then look at the damage to the vehicles.  Again, where a vehicle is travelling at less than 5mph it is unlikely to do a great deal of damage to the other vehicle.  The “magic” figure is £500.  Generally where the damage is less than £500 the insurers will not pay out on a whiplash claim as they say it is indicative of a low velocity collision.

So if you are involved in an accident and there is less than £500 worth of damage to your vehicle the other party insurers are unlikely to pay out on your whiplash claim.

This page © Copyright 2012, Vashti Norman Solicitor, Mediator and Notary Public.