Injury Causation Analysis of a Low-Speed Rear-End Collision

Background

The plaintiff was driving her vehicle and stopped at a stop sign with the intention of turning right. The defendant stopped her vehicle behind the plaintiff. The plaintiff began to make her right turn but stopped again prior to completing the turn.The defendant let her foot off the brake and as a result the front end of her vehicle collided into the rear-end of the plaintiff's vehicle. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff was alleging disc herniations in her cervical and lumbar spine.

Process

Explico was retained to conduct a collision severity and biomechanical analyses on the rear-end collision. As a part of the analysis, our team of experts evaluated the collision to determine if the mechanisms known to cause, or contribute to, disc herniations were present during the collision. The first part of the investigation involved determining the severity of the collision experienced by the plaintiff's vehicle as well as conducting an analysis of the airbag control module in the defendant's vehicle. Explico inspected the location of the incident using a laser scan to capture the 3D geometry of the roadway and used a physics-based simulation program to evaluate the dynamics of the plaintiff's vehicle during the rear-end event. Next, an evaluation of the forces and motions experienced by the plaintiff during the rear-end collision were performed. A subject-specific MADYMO simulation along with an analysis of crash test data was conducted to evaluate the forces and motions experienced specifically by the plaintiff during the low-speed, rear-end collision.

Results

The results of the analysis indicated that the mechanism known to cause, or contribute to, disc herniations was not present during the subject rear-end collision. The biomechanical analysis that was performed by our team of experts concluded that the compressive forces in the plaintiff's spine were minimal, and consistent with simple, physical activity. The case settled prior to trial, but Explico had planned to show the jury a 3D software program that combines the results of the collision severity analysis with the subject-specific MADYMO simulation. This 3D software program would allow the jury to visualize the collision dynamics and the motions experienced by the plaintiff during the rear-end event.

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