What does a delta-v investigation entail?

“An accident is just around the corner,” is a well-known Dutch saying. It could well happen to you, groaning in agony at home only to have the insurer refuse to acknowledge liability as a result of a Delta-V investigation. It happens all too often that victims do not know what a delta-v survey exactly entails and how they can challenge the results of such a survey. In this article, we explain in detail what we have learned from years of experience and extensive research in the personal injury field.

What is a Delta-V investigation?

Delta-v refers to the speed difference of the vehicle hit just before and after the accident. The insurer is the party who orders a delta-v investigation. Such an investigation attempts to deduce from the vehicle damage the collision speed and the force of the collision. It is relevant to know that a delta-v examination is not a medical examination. Therefore, the result of a delta-v examination says nothing about the victim’s current medical condition.

I am in pain, so why the need for a Delta-V examination?

You may wonder why, despite all the statements from various health care providers, the insurer still proceeds to perform a delta-v examination. This is because, in certain cases, the insurer does not dispute that the victim is suffering, but is sceptical about the cause of his injuries. Based on such a delta-v examination, the insurer tries to deduce whether it is possible that the victim could have such injuries as a result of the collision. This plays a role in injuries that are difficult to demonstrate, such as whiplash-like complaints. These symptoms cannot be shown on scans or pictures, which makes it difficult to prove their presence or absence. The insurer tries to make it plausible that such complaints are not feasible with a low delta-v.

The result of a delta-v investigation is expressed as a lower and upper limit in kilometers per hour. It is usually argued that a collision with a delta-v lower than 10 km p/h could not have caused whiplash symptoms. This is because the change in speed would be too small to cause an acceleration/deceleration trauma (the pendulum movement of the neck). This would mean that the insurer would not want to pay the damages to which you are entitled. To what extent the judge will go along with this we will delve into next.

Legal strength of a delta-v examination:

First of all, it is relevant how the burden of proof is divided in the case of whiplash-like complaints. In a recent judgment, the Arnhem/Leeuwaarden Court of Appeal ruled that, with regard to the burden of proof, “it is up to the injured party to state and, if necessary, to prove that he suffers from health complaints. If it can be established that the pattern of complaints is plausible, which will usually be the case if there is a consistent, consequent and coherent pattern of complaints, the existence of injuries can be assumed, even if they are not or difficult to objectively assess. As a result of this ruling, the pattern of complaints must be plausible in order to assume a causal relationship. This is the element that the insurer is trying to refute by means of a delta-v study.

In an interim judgement, the Arnhem-Leeuwaarden Court of Appeal has ruled that a delta-v survey is a relevant factor in assessing the causal relationship. However, this does not mean that a low delta-v automatically means that there is no causal connection. The court holds that all the circumstances of the case must be considered, including the plausibility of the physical complaints. The judge emphasizes the overall picture here. Various studies show, among other things, that children and women, for example, have a higher chance of whiplash-like complaints when the delta-v is low. According to the court, factors such as these must be taken into account in the assessment.

In practice we see that judges look at all of the circumstances of the case. However, it is true that when the insurer establishes a low delta-v and on the basis of this the plausibility is disputed, the court tends to go along with this in the absence of counter-evidence. In the case of a low delta-v it has happened more than once that the victim has been put in the wrong, because he did not substantiate his point of view properly. In practice we often see that for the refutation of a delta-v defense the court usually demands an expert opinion.

As the above shows, the overall picture must therefore be assessed. A good file documentation is of great importance in this respect. Moreover, it should be mentioned that this article only describes the tip of the iceberg and that in practice much more can be involved. If you have been involved in a traffic accident and you expect to be facing a delta-v investigation or you have already been confronted with one, please contact us in order to do justice to your rights. Entirely free of charge.