In the past, plaintiff trial attorneys rarely were concerned with the force involved in an automobile collision. Where, however, the force was great and photographs depicted heavy property damage, those photographs would be enlarged and shown to the jury to further enhance the claim of the severity of plaintiff’s injuries. In contrast, low-impact collisions rarely concerned the trial attorney. With the intense propaganda of insurance carriers and manufacturers since the early 1990’s and with the cry for the need of tort reform, the defense has now seized on the low-impact collision as an arrow to deflate a plaintiff’s claim. Defendants argue that it is impossible for a plaintiff to have sustained the injuries claimed where the impact was light, and the property damage minimal or non-existent.
In the beginning, with this new defense, defense attorneys argued and persuaded juries that the insignificant and trivial motor vehicle collision certainly could not have caused the injuries claimed. Recently, defense attorneys have begun retaining accident reconstruction and biomechanical engineering experts to support this defense. However, despite the opinion set forth by many of these so-called experts, their testimony consists of nothing more than simply holding up photographs depicting minimal if any damage and opining that the plaintiff could not have sustained the injuries claimed in the motor vehicle collision.
The natural reaction when receiving defendant’s accident reconstruction/biomechanical engineering report is to laugh and scoff in the belief that this is just another hired gun which the defense has hired to convince plaintiff to accept less. All too often, plaintiff’s counsel fails to take seriously the strong effect that this report will have in persuading the jury that plaintiff is not entitled to compensation. On the other hand, receipt of these reports should not cause plaintiff’s counsel to quake and quiver and consider dropping the case. Rather, it calls for a great deal of work and preparation to diffuse these opinions. With hard work, the opinions of most accident reconstruction experts in low impact-collision can be diffused and eliminated.