The seatbelt holds you in your seat, stopping your body from flying around. Bones are no longer broken as often, because the bones are restrained from whacking into hard things in the car that would cause them to break.
The most important bone that is protected by a seatbelt is your head. A seatbelt stops this approximately 12 pound projectile from bashing into the windshield or other things inside the car, and causing serious brain damage.
Ironically, it is the life saving seatbelt that can be blamed for the types of injuries that replace broken bones and broken skulls.
The problem with seatbelts is that they hold only some of your body in place, not all of it.
That 12 pound projectile is still going to be launched. A seatbelt does nothing to stop your head from flying around in a crash. It just stops your body from moving.
Your head will fly forward until it is yanked back by your neck, which connects the stationary upper torso and the completely unrestrained head. The classic whiplash injury is to the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck area, the “soft tissues”, connecting the upper body with the head.
Damage to the soft tissues in other parts of the body happens the same way. The lap belt portion of the seatbelt, for example, holds back only one small section of the lower spine, leaving the rest to fly forward as you are flung against the seatbelt. Damage occurs to the soft tissues of the spine that are hyper extended.
This posting is not about the biomechanics of a car crash injury, though. It is about achieving justice in injury claims.
One of the nasty negotiation tactics of the insurance company is to point to the medical evidence and ask the question: Where is the evidence of injury?
They like to discount the crash victim’s self-reported “subjective” symptoms of pain as being less valid than symptoms that can be seen and independently verified, which they refer to as “objective” symptoms.
Of course, there are often no independently verifiable symptoms with typical car crash injuries. X-rays, CT scans and MRI’s don’t show damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments.
With no objective symptoms, you are left with subjective pain, which the insurance company discounts as unreliable. You face the insinuations that it’s all in your head, or you are exaggerating or making it up.
Can justice be achieved with these types of injuries? You betcha.
Your sworn testimony, describing your pain and stiffness since the crash, is not discounted by the Court unless your credibility has been successfully challenged.
Also, we don’t live in a vacuum. Our lives are built around relationships with other people: family members; friends; work colleagues. Those other people in your life will give sworn testimony about how you have been different since the crash.
It is this evidence from what are often referred to as “collateral witnesses” that is the most compelling. Even if an MRI could show soft tissue injury, it would be the wife or husband describing in vivid detail how their spouse had changed that would be the most compelling evidence.
Don’t allow baseless insurance company arguments to distract you from the very modest goal of achieving a just result. When the adjuster points to a lack of objective symptoms as a reason to discount your claim, tell the adjuster that you can recognize bunk when you hear it, and hand over a copy of this posting.