Sometimes a car accident attorney will agree to take on a client whose injuries don’t seem to match up with the damage done to their vehicle, at least not at first glance. That doesn’t mean that the victim’s injuries weren’t caused by the car accident, but that modern cars are designed to “crumple” during collision, deforming the car and creating unpredictable areas of impact.
Crumple Zones Designed to Limit Car Accident Injuries
In the early days of driving, automotive engineers believed that strong metals made the safest cars. But in reality, the passengers absorbed most of the force from the impact of a collision. As a solution, the concept of a crumple zone was patented by a German engineer and first tested on a Mercedes-Benz W111 Fintail in 1959. Basically, certain parts of the car are made of materials that will be crushed on impact, redistributing some of the force away from the driver.
Most auto manufacturers have their own patented crumple zone designs, which can vary greatly depending on the size and weight of the car. Some of the more advanced designs use a sophisticated mix of metals and materials to absorb kinetic energy.
How Car Design Affects Safety
Crumple zones improve car accident safety in two ways:
- Increasing the amount of time it takes for the force to reach the center of the car, where the driver and passengers are, thereby minimizing personal injuries.
- Redistributing the force so that more of it is absorbed before it reaches the driver or passengers.
Of course, there is more to safe design than whether or not a vehicle will crumple. Design engineers have to consider many factors, such as:
- vehicle size and weight;
- frame flexibility, or lack of;
- and the type of stress the vehicle is likely to endure in a crash.
For example, a race car is far more likely to experience severe impact than a city bus, and among regular road vehicles, SUVs usually crash with more force than small cars.
When You Might Need a Car Accident Attorney
As a result of these crumple zones, sometimes a car accident victim might appear to have only minor injuries. But the impact of a car accident can still be the cause of serious internal damage.
Even without obvious cuts, scrapes, or broken bones, anyone who has been in a car accident should get a thorough medical examination.
Keep in mind, too, that some medical conditions–such as whiplash injuries–may not begin to produce symptoms until days after the accident. If you have been injured and your car is a newer model that likely has a crumple zone in place, it may be a good idea to speak with a skilled personal injury attorney who can articulate injury damages separate and apart from the automobile damage.