If you've heard your personal injury claim referred to as a MIST case, you may be wondering what this term means and how it affects your right to compensation. MIST is an acronym for Minor Impact Soft Tissue. This terminology was first adopted in the 1990s, when auto insurers began to claim that vehicle occupants can't sustain serious or permanent injuries from low speed collisions with minimal property damage. There is little scientific basis for this statement, but the expression still remains.
About MIST Cases
Any type of car accident involving soft tissue injuries instead of broken bones is a MIST case, although the majority of MIST cases are car accidents with less than $1,500 in property damage. The four soft tissue injuries commonly involved in a MIST accident are whiplash, sprains, strains, and contusions.
- Whiplash. Also referred to as a cervical strain or sprain, whiplash is caused by the violent jerking of your neck back and forth due to the impact of the car accident—similar to how you would crack a whip. This condition can cause headaches, dizziness, sleep disturbances, memory or concentration issues, and chronic pain in the back and neck.
- Sprain. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament in one of the body's joints such as the arm, wrist, knee, or ankle. Sprains can cause pain and swelling that make it difficult to complete daily activities. Treatment usually involves a brace or splint to immobilize the impacted area while it heals. Physical therapy or corrective surgery may be needed in more serious cases.
- Strains. Strains occur when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. When someone is involved in an accident, the back is the most common location for a strain. Treatment is similar to a sprain.
- Contusions. Contusions are injuries that occur when capillaries under the skin are ruptured. The area is discolored and painful. Most contusions heal over time, but it's possible for muscle fibers and connective tissue under the skin to be permanently damaged in more severe cases.
Compensation Available in a MIST Case
Although MIST cases don't involve broken bones, they can still be serious. A personal injury claim in a MIST case can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including emergency room care, follow-up care, and any prescription pain medication
- Loss of wages for time taken off work during the recovery period
- Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and the emotional trauma of the car accident
You can still seek compensation if you were partially at fault for the accident, but your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
Proving Your Case
Since soft tissue injuries result in less obvious symptoms than broken bones, patients are often accused of faking or exaggerating their injuries. To prove a MIST case, you need copies of your medical records and testimony from your healthcare provider to verify the extent of your injuries. Photos of the accident scene and a journal detailing your symptoms throughout the recovery process may also be helpful in building a strong case.
With a MIST case, it's very important that you follow your healthcare provider's treatment recommendations precisely. Skipping appointments or returning to work earlier than your doctor recommends can be interpreted as an indication that your injuries aren't as serious as you claim.
Seeking Legal Representation
Although MIST cases are considered smaller personal injury claims, that doesn't mean you should forgo legal representation. In a MIST case, the insurance company is often eager to save money by claiming the victim is exaggerating the seriousness of the injury. Without an attorney to represent your interests, you risk having your claim denied or being offered a settlement that's less than what you deserve.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to helping Louisiana residents who've been injured by a negligent driver receive prompt and fair personal injury settlements. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at one of our six convenient office locations. You can also call us directly at 800.256.1050.