The theory of “MIST” (minor impact soft tissue), which was first promoted by American car insurance companies in the mid-1990s, claims that it is “impossible” to sustain any serious or long-term injury in a collision of low speed and/or low property damage. While the theory is widely supported by U.S.-based insurers, it is supported by little to no scientific evidence.
“MIST” relies heavily on the appearance of things, particularly the victim of the accident and his/her vehicle, with little regard for many additional factors such as interplay between seat designs, the position and mass of the occupants, and the stiffness, elasticity, and general dynamics of the vehicle. Such factors show that there is not a direct correlation, as “MIST” asserts, between a change in a vehicle’s velocity and the rate and risk of a serious injury.
Of the injuries which can and do occur in low-velocity accidents, whiplash is among the most common and poses a risk of long-term debilitation if not treated properly. Its long-term effects are well-documented and include: a 160-370% increased risk of headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, and lower back pain, particularly for those in rear-end accidents; about 70% of whiplash patients have reported ongoing symptoms related to the original accident over a 15 ½-year span; beyond the tenth year of that span, only 18% reported improvement while 28% claimed that their condition worsened (54% stayed the same).
CJ Centeno, WL Elkins, and M Freeman, the authors of the 2005 study which uncovered these facts, recommend a severity index based heavily on research which would improve resource-allocation on behalf of insurers, but no such method has been implemented, nor proposal adopted.
So how does “MIST” maintain influence or credibility on any level? Generally, it may very well be attributed to profit, as the theory allows insurers to claim that accident victims were not indeed injured in order to delay response to his/her claim or deny it outright. If a “MIST” case goes to trial, the insurer will often use photos from the accident (remember the theory’s reliance on visual evidence) to debate the correlation between it and the victim’s injury.
Although proponents of “MIST” erroneously claim that it benefits all insurance-subscribers by lowering premium costs, the real financial impact is in unfair litigation. Those who have sustained serious injuries in low-velocity accidents have too often been snubbed by insurance companies who continue to uphold such a baseless (not to mention outdated) premise, and it is up to dedicated and experienced personal injury attorneys to prevent them from doing so and ensure that compensation is delivered.
If you or a loved one has suffered whiplash in an accident, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.