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How to Overcome Defense Claims that You’re ‘Faking It’ and Achieve Success in Your Low-Impact California Auto Accident Case

Chances are, you’ve seen a TV or movie scene like this: A vehicle is lightly tapped from behind by another vehicle. An occupant of the lead vehicle emerges screaming, “Oh! My neck!” in a very exaggerated way… or maybe that occupant reappears the next day or next week wearing a conspicuously massive and bulky neck brace or a halo device. While this may all be sight gags and laughs on TV and the movies, the cold reality is that low-impact crashes can, and do, cause people to suffer serious injuries every day. If you’ve been injured in a low-impact crash, don’t let the lack of massive skid marks or extensive vehicle damage trick you into thinking you can’t recover the compensation you need. By reaching out to the right San Mateo car accident attorney, you can obtain the evidence you need to get a full recovery for the harm you’ve suffered.

When you’re injured in a low-speed accident, you can reasonably expect that the defense may argue to the jury that you are “faking it” or are exaggerating your injuries for a larger “payday.” The defense may argue that the accident occurred at such an extremely low speed that the injuries you’ve asserted couldn’t possibly be the result of that crash. The defense team knows that, just like many of the rest of us, at least some of the jurors have seen the movie/TV scenes with the gigantic neck braces and halos, and have heard the (usually false or distorted) “horror” stories of people collecting multi-million-dollar awards for trifling injuries.

The reality is, though, that the science disputes this idea that low-impact collisions can’t ever cause serious injuries. Research from a branch of the National Institutes of Health shows that there “does not seem to be an absolute speed or amount of damage a vehicle sustains for a person to experience injury.” The research’s crash tests revealed that “a change of vehicle velocity of 4 km/hr (2.5 mph) may produce occupant symptoms.”


Here’s a good example of exactly how this sort accident can, and does, happen. The accident was a rear-end collision at an intersection in San Bernardino. (San Bernardino Superior Court Case No. CIVDS1827221.)

Low-Impact Crashes May Be Serious and Symptoms May Be Delayed

Initially, the driver of the lead vehicle and her passenger received treatment from a chiropractor for whiplash. Sometime later, though, the injured driver began experiencing knee pain. Her medical providers diagnosed her with a torn meniscus and concluded that the accident had aggravated arthritis in her left knee. (The arthritis was already present before the crash, but was asymptomatic.) The crash aggravated it and caused symptoms to emerge. The driver underwent multiple cortisone shots and an arthroscopic surgical procedure, none of which worked. According to the driver’s legal team, multiple orthopedic surgeons had recommended that she undergo knee replacement.

The defense argued that the speed of the impact was less than 11 mph, that the accident could not possibly have caused the extensive injuries the plaintiffs alleged, and the injured driver and passenger were faking their harm in order to get money from a jury award or settlement.

The challenges this injured driver and passenger faced show, in clear detail, why you need a powerful legal team on your side. The driver and passenger in this San Bernardino case had lawyers who secured and presented the evidence needed for success. The jury heard expert testimony from man who had a Ph.D. in biomechanics and medical expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon. All of that expert evidence was enough to persuade the jury that the injured driver and passenger were not just faking their injuries and to award the pair more than $500,000 in damages.

Each auto accident is unique. Sometimes a car is “totaled”, but the occupant walks away with only minor cuts and bruises. Other times, the impact is low but the harm to the driver and/or passenger is massive. A low-impact crash does not automatically mean that the accident can only cause minimal harm to those involved, and you should not let someone (especially the person who hit you or someone speaking on their behalf) convince you otherwise.

Instead, get a detailed and thoughtful opinion about the nature and “value” of your case from the experienced San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys are here to provide you with reliable advice and effective advocacy in your auto accident or other personal injury matter. To set up a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

Auto Accidents

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    I retained Ilya Frangos of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos on a business litigation matter involving a frivolous lawsuit filed in federal court. Ilya guided me through the case and helped make sure that I understood the process… He always took the time to answer all my questions and helped put my mind at ease. I would highly recommend him and this firm!


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    I was fortunate enough to have been represented and retained by this law firm for my injuries sustained by an under insured motorist. I must say Chantel Fitting and Illya Frangos went above and beyond trying to resolve my case… I would highly recommend this law firm and stop shopping around if you are looking for the best, as this is as good as it gets.

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