One of the most difficult types of cases in personal injury law is the MIST case. This insurance term, coined back in the 80’s, stands for Minor Impact Soft Tissue. The theory is a minor impact with minimal property damage cannot result in injuries. Insurance companies determine whether auto accidents are MIST cases based on their review of the accident report.
Law enforcement officers are trained to be conservative in their assessments. A low property damage estimate can cause a major hurdle in getting the appropriate compensation. Additionally, insurance companies review whether your car was drivable from the scene of the accident, whether the airbags deployed, and whether the damage appears to be merely cosmetic.
If a law enforcement officer does not see obvious injuries, he will ask if you need an ambulance. If you say no, he may select a code on the report indicating that you had no injuries. This is unfortunate because you may have said no because you only feel some stiffness, soreness, or a headache, but it is not to the extent that you would want to call an ambulance; or it could be that adrenaline running through your body at that exact moment is masking any effects from the collision. Regardless, if the law enforcement officer selects a code for no injuries at scene, this is another hurdle to the MIST case.
There are two ways the officer assesses speed at impact. One, he may ask the at-fault driver how fast he/she was going, or two, he makes an educated guess--a literal estimation. Law enforcement officers are trained to estimate and record the absolute minimal speed at impact to prevent exaggeration of the facts on the report. However, the insurance companies do not see the information as a conservative estimation; rather, they see it as literal fact, thus adding another hurdle in the MIST case.
So, what can you do if you think you have been involved in a collision with minor property damage and subsequent soft tissue injuries? The best thing to do is retain an attorney
who knows the tactics the insurance companies use, who can objectively assess the damages and injuries, and who is willing to fight for you. Most personal injury attorneys will provide a free consultation to answer your questions and advise on how your claim can be resolved.