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Hot shock and why investigations matter

by | Jul 23, 2021 | automobiles


The first hurdle a plaintiff has to overcome when making a claim is liability. If the crash isn’t the other person’s fault, there is not going to be any settlement or compensation.

One of the classic excuses for why someone turned in front of a car or motorcycle is that the injured/killed person “did not have their headlights on” in a night time crash. Depending on what the investigating officer writes down on the crash report, this can be devastating when dealing with an insurance adjuster. In the absence of a witness, video, or other solid evidence that their insured was mistaken (if not lying), they’ll often dig in their heels and blame you for driving without lights on, even if you had them on.

So, when you’re faced with this situation you need to know about “hot shock.”

Filament bulbs work by passing electricity through a thin coil filament generating enough heat to make it glow with light. As anyone who has ever touched a bulb that’s been on a minute, they can produce a tremendous amount of heat.

If you’re in a crash your vehicle will stop suddenly, but inertia says everything is going to want to keep moving the same direction it had been going (Physics: Not just a good idea, it’s the law). When we’re talking about a big steel body like a car frame, it’s too heavy for inertia alone to cause it deform. Your headlight filament, however, is thin & scorching hot. So when it has that big change, the filament can stretch & deform as well as show other signs that can conclusively prove that the lights WERE in fact on.

The three pictures below are:

  1. An example of a new bulb where you can see the tightly packed filament coil, and;
  2. Two examples of filaments from a real client’s vehicle where the other driver said he was operating with no headlights on

We were fortunate enough to be able to get the headlight assemblies and they weren’t destroyed in the crash. As you can see, they show clear distortion that is the hallmark of hot shock.

Hid halogen single beam lightbulb


When it comes to your personal injury case, liability is always going to be at issue. If the crash report is not in your favor if the other driver has a story that places blame on you, you need to be sure that your attorney is doing the most thorough investigation possible so the insurance company doesn’t have some excuse later to discount the value of your claim.

Give us a call if you want Ladendorf Fregiato & Bigler to look into your crash so we can worry about investigations and you can focus on healing.

Be safe out there!