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Whiplash 9: Dangerous Hitches

This is the 9th post in a series of 10, about whiplash injuries from auto collisions, a poorly understood but all too common injury. Our firm handles many such cases and is committed to informing you so you can protect yourself and your family.

Dangerous Hitches

Tow hitches increase injuries.

I recently had a rear end collision client who wanted to put a tow hitch on her car to protect herself from injury in future crashes. This would be exactly the wrong thing to do.

Tow hitches are found on 40% of today's vehicles. They are risky in rear end collisions for two reasons:

1.) Hitches increase the risk and severity of whiplash injury. The hitch is welded to the frame of the vehicle and when it is struck in rear end collisions, it transfers the crash "pulse" of energy instantly and completely to the frame of the vehicle and then to your body. Picture an ant on a billiard ball struck by another ball. Any "crumple zones" built in to your car are defeated. Government tests for bumper safety are done only after the tow hitches and receivers are removed. Hitches increase the risk of whiplash injury by 22%.

Since the occupants receive 2.5 times the energy of the crash at low speeds, a hitch dramatically increases risk. Removing the "ball mount" from the tow hitch receiver helps somewhat.

2.) Hitches decrease the amount of property damage. Since insurance companies are always looking for reasons to say "no" to your injury claim, lower property damage is an excuse for them to offer less for your bodily injuries. This is even though there is no reliable correlation between property damage and bodily injury. Insurance companies insist that low property damage equals no injury. However, they don't admit the converse: that high property damage means serious injury.

The takeaway message is: if you don't need a tow hitch, don't have one.

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