A Look into the Physics of Auto Accidents

Categories: Vehicle Accidents

car accident injury

Newton’s Law is not just applicable in science books; it applies to everyday life – especially each time you get into a motor vehicle and begin driving. Newton’s Law of Motion, more specifically, the First Law, states that a vehicle’s speed and direction will remain constant unless an external force acts upon it (like a second vehicle or fixed object). Therefore, the extent of someone’s injuries in a motor vehicle collision depends on the magnitude of that force, and the location of the impact.

Most vehicles today come equipped with safety features like seat belts, bumpers, airbags, etc. These are designed to mitigate the effects of the impact and extend the deceleration period during the collision, in order to reduce the force on the drivers and passengers of that vehicle. In order to fully comprehend the potential injuries of a car accident (or your own injuries if you have been in a motor vehicle collision), you must first understand how physics plays a role in your event.


The Second Law focuses on how force is equal to the mass times acceleration. That is why any vehicle traveling at fast speeds is likely to be involved in a more serious crash. The speed is not necessarily the issue in a collision. Instead, it is the change of momentum. The change in velocity for the vehicle in an accident determines the force that is imparted on its occupants – and the injuries that will result.

Kinetic Energy and Mass

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. It has a direct correlation with mass. For example, the larger the vehicle, the more kinetic energy it carries. This energy’s relationship with velocity is also important, because the faster a vehicle is driving, the more kinetic energy it contains. When you use your brakes, your vehicle’s kinetic energy is dissipated via heat. If you are involved in a collision, the vehicle components that fall apart will absorb the energy.

Accident Reconstruction Uses Physics to Determine the Collision

When you are involved in a motor vehicle collision and seek compensation via a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney may hire an accident reconstruction specialist. This individual combines auto technology with physics to help replicate the accident scene and determine:

  1. How fast the vehicles were traveling
  2. How fast the vehicles impacted
  3. The overall speed of the impact
  4. How the impact affected the occupants of each vehicle

These details will also help determine who was at-fault for the incident – and ultimately, prove your claim in court.

Injured in an Accident? Contact a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you will need to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Often, the costs associated with an accident are not immediately evident – and, sometimes, do not appear for weeks or months afterward. The earlier you contact an attorney, the less of a burden you will have to shoulder once your injuries and costs are more apparent. Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. can assist you with your case. Contact him now for a free consultation by calling 970-704-0888, or request an appointment online.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.