It’s a familiar, but fallacious argument. A favorite of defense counsel and insurance companies in automobile accident cases: “There was a minor impact, therefore there can only be minor injury, if any injury at all.” Defense lawyers often try to introduce into evidence distorted, grainy or out of focus photographs of minimal property damage without providing any expert testimony about the causal relationship between the amount of property damage and the victim’s injuries. The purpose of this tactic is to disprove by false implication what has been proven by medical evidence; to rebut the testimony of a licensed physician that has reached an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the victim’s injuries were caused by the accident in question. There is no mention of the sudden and very high energy forces that are transmitted through the vehicle in the milliseconds after the impact. No mention of the fact that most modern cars are built to withstand a 10-15 mile per hour rear impact without suffering significant property damage, particularly if you’re dealing with an SUV or truck.
Armed only with poor quality photos, too many defense counsel will attempt to manipulate the ignorance (or prejudice) of would be jurors. Such a defense lawyer hopes to prove by innuendo what they know they can’t prove legitimately: minimal damage to a vehicle equates to minimal damage to a human in the car.
In reality, a crash with very little visible property damage can cause extensive, painful and permanent injuries. Crash impact forces are transmitted into sudden and high energy forces causing unexpected acceleration of the subject vehicle, while the occupants of the vehicle (heads, necks, etc.) try to stay in place as their seat-belted bodies are thrust forward by the impact. This sequence of events can lead to a myriad of injuries, including, strained or torn ligaments, weakened connective tissue, bulging or blown discs, hyperextension/hyperflexion of the vertebrae and other painful conditions.