When Common Sense Makes No Sense At All in Personal Injury Cases

Over the past decade, we have seen numerous instances when insurance companies and their representatives refuse to negotiate on personal injury claims, arguing that our client must not have been injured because the property damage to their vehicle was minimal. This frequently happens in rear-end collisions. The insurance companies claim that it’s only “common sense” that a person’s injuries must be proportionate to the damage sustained by that person’s vehicle. Of course, this argument is only made when the damage is minimal. When our client’s vehicle sustains severe damage, the insurance companies rarely accept that severe property damage must lead to severe injuries.

Nelson & MacNeil, Attorneys at Law have been handling personal injury cases arising out of motor vehicle collisions for over 25 years. Our experience and sound science both demonstrate that the link between vehicle property damage and the degree of injury is tenuous at best. Although the odds of severe injury are higher in high speed collisions, the outcome in any individual case will depend on multiple variables. We have seen horrible collisions where the vehicle occupants walk away with only minor injuries. Conversely, even a low impact rear-end collision can result in significant and permanent injury.

What can be done to overcome this situation? We have had success in countering the insurance companies’ “low impact” argument by applying a two-stage response. First, in settlement negotiations, we attack the phony science and false conclusions behind the insurer’s position. If the insurer continues to deny the extent of our client’s injuries, we proceed to file suit in the appropriate venue. In some cases, we will use ORS 20.080, an Oregon statute that allows us to recover attorney fees if we obtain an award greater than the pre-filing offer by the insurance company. In larger cases, we may consider hiring a scientific expert who can explain established scientific principles that effectively contradict the insurance companies’ false conclusions. – Chris MacNeil – personal injury attorney in Albany, Oregon

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