Looking Through the MIST – Minor Impact Soft Tissue Injury

Ethel Gonzales

As a personal injury attorney in California I, or an attorney anywhere else for that matter can tell you, low impact cases resulting in soft tissue types of injuries, including whiplash, are specifically “red flagged” by the insurance industry as cases meriting special attention. Such cases have been labeled by the code word “MIST”, short for Minor Impact Soft Tissue injury. The idea behind the “MIST” injury originated with insurance companies to allow for lower pay outs for claims resulting in little or no damage to the vehicles involved in an auto accident, and to also permit the insurance companies to pay less for injury claims that cannot be easily seen by the naked eye.

MIST cases are typically denied in their entirety by the defendant’s insurance company. If the MIST claims are not denied categorically, the defendant’s insurance company will often make an extremely low offer to settle, often not enough to even cover all the related injury expenses. This holds true even in cases where the defendant is clearly at fault in the accident. What can be even more frustrating is the fact that often, fault is admitted by the defendant in the accident. The insurance companies simply state that these “low ball” settlement offers are in keeping with what they see jury verdicts rendering in these kinds of related personal injury cases. As a result of the difficulty in litigating MIST injuries, many personal injury attorneys will no longer accept auto accident cases involving low property damage to a vehicle when the injury involved is a soft tissue injury.

The difficulty of litigating soft tissue injuries creates a quandary, leaving an auto accident victim with only two options: accepting the insurance company settlement offer or proceeding to take the defendant to court. Although one does not have to accept an insurance company settlement offer, there are a several facts to keep in mind during the decision making process. The first thing to remember is that going to court involves a substantial commitment of time for both the representing attorney and the recovering client. The second idea to consider is that bringing a case to trial and ultimately through to a verdict is often costly in terms of the expenses required to so, including but not limited to the costs of specialists, medical experts, and accident re-constructionists. Thirdly, it must also be noted that litigation can be risky and that there are absolutely no guarantees as to a successful result. It is up to the client to request their personal injury attorney to proceed through a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the case can be successfully litigated in a cost effective manner.

For victims of MIST injuries, it is important to engage in an active discussion about the possible outcomes of the options comprising soft tissue litigation. It is also important that one question their attorney about the bottom line when obtaining advice for an appropriate course of action to best resolve the soft tissue injury case.

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