Did the claimant sustain a head injury in the incident? Would the diagnosed head injury have been prevented if the claimant was using a protective device such as a helmet, a seat belt or an airbag?
Claims adjusters frequently look to biomechanical engineers to answer injury causation and prevention questions such as these in order to assess personal injury claims.
In this case, the peak head acceleration occurs during the head contact with the head restraint. Many experimental tests simulating this type of collision have been conducted using human volunteers, cadavers, and crash test dummies. From these tests, the driver’s peak head acceleration exposure is estimated. This value is then compared to published levels that have been associated with concussion. For low speed rear-end collisions, the head restraint padding and compliant seats of most vehicles typically result in low head accelerations with a very low concussion risk.
Helmet impact testing illustrates the significant difference in performance between different helmets, particularly those that are not certified. A common question we answer is whether or not a “better” helmet would have mitigated or prevented a diagnosed head injury. The presence of an adequate energy absorbing liner (typically at least 1” thick) is generally associated with a “good” helmet. Testing of non-certified beanie helmets shows their inferior performance relative to DOT certified shorty and full-face helmets.
Seat Belts and Airbags