Car insurance companies often use the term “low impact” when describing car accidents that happened at a low speed, or resulted in little to no property damage. However, if you’ve been involved in an accident like this, you may already know that “low impact” doesn’t necessarily mean “low injury.”
Unfortunately, insurance companies and adjusters nearly always assume that a low-impact collision, sometimes called a fender-bender, requires only a small amount of compensation. Using the term “low impact” makes a car accident sound less serious than it actually is, allowing an insurance company to minimize or even deny your injury claim.
The truth is that even a low-impact crash can cause disabling injury – and the insurance companies know this, too.
How does the insurance company classify a “low impact” crash? What is MIST?
If your car accident occurred at a low speed, your insurance company may classify it as a MIST (minor impact soft tissue) case. In car insurance, MIST operates under the theory that vehicles with less than $1,000 in accident damage can’t possibly cause significant injuries. Various studies show this is false, with one concluding, “A substantial number of injuries are reported in crashes of little or no property damage. Property damage is an unreliable predictor of injury risk or outcome in low velocity crashes. The MIST protocol for prediction of injury does not appear to be valid.”
In reality, insurance companies are completely aware that low-impact car accidents can cause injury. In their customer brochure “The Dos And Don’ts of A Minor Car Accident,” State Farm advises policyholders “don’t assume there aren’t injuries” after a “fender bender,” and that “even low-impact collisions can cause injuries, some not appearing until days after the accident.”
Reasons low-impact accidents occur
Accidents happen for a variety of reasons, but low-impact accidents commonly occur as a result of:
- Distracted driving, especially in parking lots
- Driving under the influence
- Driving aggressively
- Rain or snow on the road
- Running red or yellow lights
- Poor visibility
- Drowsy driving
Soft tissue injuries are still serious injuries
MIST-type injuries are common in low-speed car accidents, often in rear-end collisions. Anyone can suffer injury in one of these types of accidents, but if you have a pre-existing condition or injury, even a low-impact accident can greatly exacerbate your pain or disability.
Whiplash is certainly the most common injury from a fender-bender, but other soft tissue injuries can include:
- Bruises or hematomas
- Sprains and strains
- Stress injuries
Many MIST injuries, as mentioned, may not show up until days after your accident. Seeing a medical professional to document and treat your injuries can strengthen your claim, and it’s important not to sign anything until you understand the full scope of your injuries.
At Mezrano Law Firm, our Alabama car accident attorneys will not allow the insurance company to undervalue or reject your claim. To set up a free consultation, give us a call today at 205-206-6300, or leave us a message through our contact form. We offer our services to residents of Mobile, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Florence, Montgomery, and Gadsden.