Car Accident Physics - Are Wheels/Tires Good or Bad Energy Absorbers?

In summary, the conversation discusses a motor-vehicle accident where the speaker's car was hit from the side by another driver who admitted fault. Despite minimal damage to the vehicles, the speaker sustained a back injury and faced difficulty in getting proper compensation for it. The conversation then delves into a discussion about the possibility of wheels and tires being able to absorb impact and transfer energy to passengers, leading to a question about the severity of the accident. The conversation concludes by suggesting that the speaker should seek medical attention, have their car evaluated by a body shop, and consider legal options.
  • #1
kyphysics
676
437
Here's an applied everyday life physics question based on a MVA (motor-vehicle accident) I was involved in a few weeks ago.

I was driving straight when a women hit me from the driver side (said she didn't see me due to being in her blind spot - her claim, not mine, as I don't know if I was or not). The damage on my car was outwardly minimal (2 out of 10). There were several scratches, a small dent (size off a penny), and some "paint transfer" (as they call it) right around my back wheel/tire area. Based on that evidence, she mainly hit my back wheel/tire.

She was at-fault and admitted it (honest and nice of her). She hit me at around 30-35 mph. It felt mostly "light," but still enough that I "jolted" around physically and had a back injury. My doctors think it's most likely an aggravation of existing disc injuries (I was already in physical therapy for several bulging and ruptured discs - I've posted about these before).

Long story short, the guilty party's claim adjuster wanted to practically deny ANY injury damages, but finally offered a few hundred dollars and said the lack of damage to the vehicles and description of events (incl. both of us saying it was a relatively low impact accident) lead her to see minimal or no damages (notwithstanding the paltry offer).

Here's the thing. I actually sort of see her side.*** o_O It's true. The vehicles do have very little damage. But, my body says something else and it is highly, highly, highly unlikely there was any other cause, given the temporal sequence of things and specific feelings I reported and had later confirmed by physical exam.

***Not that I agree with her, but just that I can see why she'd be skeptical.

But, what of the minimal car damage argument? I started thinking about things, Googling stuff, and wondered: Is it possible that wheels (which typically don't crumple like a "crumple zone" in the car body), which are seemingly very sturdy in their metallic frame, and the tires around them (which presumably can be very buoyant and deflect things and/or avoid "depression" like a cheap crumple zone part of a car) can somehow better "absorb" energy from a hit (without crumpling) and yet still somehow transfer that energy into passengers (me - the driver)?

Put differently. Could tires/wheels take impact better than the body of the car and as such not look as bad post-"hit," while still transferring equal or more energy (as if being hit in a more "crumple-y" area) onto passengers?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Sorry, we can't give opinions on crashes other than to say you need:

1. A doctor to evaluate the injury.

2. A body shop to estimate/fix the damage.

3. A lawyer to evaluate if there's a lawsuit here.
 
  • Like
Likes sophiecentaur, phinds, topsquark and 2 others

Similar threads

  • Classical Physics
2
Replies
46
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
603
Replies
1
Views
899
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
15K
  • Engineering and Comp Sci Homework Help
3
Replies
102
Views
4K
  • Sci-Fi Writing and World Building
Replies
20
Views
2K
  • Mechanical Engineering
Replies
9
Views
3K
  • Mechanical Engineering
Replies
11
Views
1K
Back
Top