In the 1990s, a leading auto insurer established a protocol which correlates the amount of damage a vehicle suffered in a crash to the extent of injuries suffered by the passengers inside. The minor impact soft tissue (MIST) protocol is used by claims adjusters to deny claims for significant personal injury in auto crashes with less than $1,000 damage. Using extensive crash and injury data, a California doctor raises new questions about the validity of MIST.
According to MIST, car accidents involving less than $1,000 in vehicle damage should cause no significant or permanent injury to the occupants inside. Based on these criteria, claims adjusters consider any claims for significant personal injury in a crash with minor vehicle damage as fraudulent and close them without payment.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained by vehicle occupants in a crash. Whiplash is caused by a sudden jerking of the head back and forth, common in rear end collisions. In severe whiplash cases, the joints, discs, muscles, and nerves of the neck can be damaged. Whiplash can cause severe pain, numbness in the arms or hands, and headaches, requiring ongoing medical care.
Whiplash is just one of many injuries that can happen in a minor crash. Airbag injuries, broken bones, concussions, and back injuries are also common car accident injuries. For drivers and passengers injured in minor car accidents, their injuries often keep them from working and can cost thousands of dollars in medical treatment. MIST does little to protect these victims, and may need revision.
Minor Damages do not Mean Minor Injuries
In an article attempting to debunk the MIST guidelines, California doctor Edward Olff cites the following data disproving the correlation between minimal vehicle damage and minimal passenger injury. He points out that:
- Serious injury occurs in crashes with no damage, as in whiplash injuries.
- Test crash volunteers are usually young and healthy. MIST does not account for senior passengers who are more fragile and susceptible to injury.
- While seatbelts save lives in serious accidents, they often cause severe injuries in low-speed crashes.
- Head restraints in the wrong position increase injuries in a crash.
- The size of vehicles involved in a crash needs to be considered. Passengers in smaller cars hit by larger cars are more likely to be seriously hurt.
- Crash tests used to create MIST all involve restrained passengers. In real world crashes, passengers do not always wear seatbelts.
Olff does not recommend new guidelines for claims adjusters, but instead suggests that every case be considered individually. There is no magic formula for calculating passenger injury based on the damage to the car.
Cherry Hill Car Accident Lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. Fight for Full and Fair Compensation for Injured Accident Victims
Even a minor car accident has the potential to cause painful injuries, especially for senior drivers. The Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. advocate for accident victims, ensuring their injuries and pain and suffering will not be dismissed. Schedule a free consultation with a Cherry Hill accident lawyer at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. by calling 856-354-9444 or submit an online contact form. Our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania serve clients throughout the greater Philadelphia area.