We hear this a lot.  Particularly in rear-end collisions.

But there are a couple of problems with this.  At least in its raw form.

First, it’s unlikely that the client saw the other vehicle approaching.  Even if they did, it’s really hard to estimate the speed of something coming straight-on (versus from the side).

Second, and probably more important, is the fact that the damage to the rear-end of the client’s vehicle is rarely looks like the produce of a 30 MPH impact.  Usually, it’s a scratch or a small dent or the imprint of a license plate.  That doesn’t mean the other vehicle wasn’t traveling at 30 MPH…but it makes it pretty unlikely.

So how do we convert this raw impression—that the other vehicle was going 30 MPH—into something more refined…something that will help the case rather than make the client look like they exaggerated?

It seems like the direct route is always the quickest way to the truth.  But for me the path is usually more tortuous.

In this example what the client is really saying is that it felt like the other vehicle was going 30 MPH.  That’s the truth and it’s unimpeachable.

It doesn’t matter whether the other driver was going 5 MPH or 50 MPH.  It felt like what the client thinks it must feel like to get hit at 30 MPH.  Subjective impressions aren’t really subject to cross examination.  And ultimately, we’re concerned about what happened to the client, not what happened to any of the vehicles.