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Chiropractic Research Review

The Impact of Rear-end Collisions

The background of this literature review centers on the controversy regarding "the likelihood of injuries sustained when one car strikes another at relatively low speed with little or no vehicle damage.

Plaintiffs often claim injuries whereas defendants counterclaim that injuries could not have occurred with such a relatively minor impact."

The objective of this study was to review previously published literature to examine the dynamics of low-speed rear-end collisions resulting in little or no visible vehicle damage and to discuss the diagnostic and treatment issues that such collisions create for the clinical practitioner.

The literature indicates that in low-impact collisions there are usually no skid marks and minor or no visible damage to the vehicle. In fact, there is a lack of relationship between occupant injury and vehicle speed and/or damage. And although damage may not occur until perhaps 8.7 mph, occupant soft tissue and joint injuries are possible at lower speeds.

Conclusion: "There doesnt seem to be an absolute speed or amount of damage a vehicle sustains for a person to experience injury." Clinicians must employee their diagnostic and treatment skills to appropriately care for their patients and address legal/liability issues.

Davis CG. Rear-end impacts: Vehicle and occupant response. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Nov./Dec. 1998;21(9), pp629-39.
Reprints: Tel. (800) 638-6423; Fax: (410) 528-8596

Chiropractic Research Review

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