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Naples, Florida

Can whiplash occur at low speeds?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2018 | Car Accidents

Say that you are stopped at an intersection in Naples when another car bumps into you from the rear. You are slightly jarred by the accident, but after getting out and inspecting your vehicle, you do not see any visible damage and, despite a little soreness in your neck or shoulders, you feel no worse for the wear. Before simply accepting the other driver’s apology and agreeing to not exchange any insurance information or other details, remember that accident damage might not be immediately apparent. 

In fact, that slight pain that you are feeling could potentially be a significant problem: whiplash. Yet can whiplash occur at collisions at slow speeds? You need to first understand the nature of such an injury in order to answer this question. 

Upon the impact experienced in a rear-end collision, the forces exerted on your vehicle push your torso forward while your head remains stationary for a moment. As your chest travels forward, however, tension builds in your spine from the extension of its lower half and flexion (bending) in the upper, causing it to temporarily shift from its traditional C-shape into an S-shape. After aa few milliseconds, that tension is released, throwing your head and neck forward at a violent intensity. This can lead to soft tissue and even nerve damage that can contribute to severe head, neck and shoulder problems. 

From this description, it might sound as though high speeds are needed to create such tensive forces. You might be surprised, then, to learn that research data shared by the website that whiplash injuries can occur at speeds as low as 5-10 mph. This may be something to consider before excusing another from liability for hitting your car from behind.