The immediate aftermath of a car accident would overwhelm even the calmest of drivers. Not only must you tend to any physical injuries, but you need to notify the authorities and then assess any property damage. Only then might you begin to document the scene of the accident.
Even if you could create a detailed and accurate mental image of the scene, it would be of limited help in court. This is where an accident reconstructionist becomes invaluable. An accident reconstructionist is an expert who will investigate the scene and analyze the causes of the crash and the extent of your physical and property damages.
This expert witness will also play an important role in your personal injury or property damage case. Your personal injury attorney from Adamson Ahdoot’s team will rely on accident reconstruction to prove your case and determine theories of liability.
What is Accident Reconstruction?
Forensic accident reconstruction is the process that uses scientific methodology to identify the circumstances, mechanics, and contributing factors connected to a collision.
Accident reconstruction seeks to answer questions like:
- What speed was the vehicle traveling at impact?
- By how much did the vehicle slow due to anti-lock braking technology?
- At what angles did the involved vehicles collide?
- Were the vehicle’s safety features (e.g., airbags and seat belts) functioning properly?
- Could the driver have prevented the accident?
- What other factors caused or contributed to the accident?
Answering these questions and performing the detailed mathematics and physics calculations necessary to reconstruct an accident requires a high volume of information. Some of the most valuable information are those you can contribute yourself.
For example, when you contact police or emergency services after a car accident, personnel from public safety entities respond to the scene. The responding officer will ask you for a detailed narrative that they transpose into a Traffic Collision Report. Similarly, emergency service responders will create medical records and retain a copy of any phone calls.
Any reports created by these first responders, which transcribe your first-hand account into a permanent document, will prove integral to your personal injury case. For this reason, you should also take as many photos from as many different angles of the accident scene and vehicles as you can, provided that you have not sustained any major injuries.
How Does Accident Reconstruction Work?
Imagine that while doing dishes, you accidentally drop a plate on the ground. You try to catch it desperately, the right hand grabbing for the plate, bumping it in one direction, with the left hand having the same result. What was once a classic white dinner plate with floral etching is now reduced to scattered shards throughout the kitchen. You look at that plate and wonder how it could ever have been in one piece.
An accident reconstruction expert looks at the scene of a car accident in the same manner. But their educational and professional expertise helps them put the pieces back together.
A qualified accident reconstruction expert should also have accident reconstruction certification, which is offered through national credentialing services that require experts to pass a comprehensive exam.
1. Surveying the Scene
As soon as you begin working with an accident reconstruction expert, they should investigate the scene of the accident. As other drivers, weather, or animals interact with the scene, evidence becomes degraded.
The reconstructionist will search for physical evidence such as:
- Skid marks
- Points of impact on the environment
- Vehicle rest positions
- Fluid spills
2. Inspecting the Vehicle
The accident reconstructionist should then inspect your vehicle. Ideally, they will inspect any other vehicles involved, but this is not always possible.
While the condition of the post-crash vehicle may limit the extent of the investigation, an inspection should review:
- Airbag deployment
- Indications of seat belt use or indentation
- Turn signal or headlight use
- Post-impact photos from you, police, or other parties
- Any downloadable data from the vehicle
The inspection will also look for any glass or debris located within the tire rims, door panels, or other areas of the car. This could show degrees of impact and undercarriage damage.
The accident reconstruction expert will also seek repair estimates, crash test reports, and vehicle specifications for your car model.
If the car is unavailable or was totally destroyed in the accident, multi-angle photos of the accident scene will prove invaluable. An accident reconstructionist can use those photos to perform photogrammetry, which compares the photos to determine the relative size and location of physical evidence.
3. Running Detailed Calculations
You’ll want an accident reconstruction expert with extensive educational and professional experience. This is because car accident reconstruction physics requires detailed calculations to determine variables including the pre-and post-impact speed, change in velocity, peak or average vehicle acceleration, and collision duration.
Another critical factor is the principal direction of force (PDOF). The PDOF represents the sum of all collision forces necessary to deform or damage the vehicle.
For instance, the surfaces of each car change during the collision. The PDOF shows the main direction in which these changes occurred, which can indicate which driver crashed into the other.
Once the expert has performed the necessary calculations, they reconstruct your accident using computer software. This may also include a detailed video simulation.
Accident Reconstructions Help Win Claims
The detailed investigation undertaken by experts results in a detailed collision analysis report. This report will produce findings including the cause of personal injuries, the extent of personal injuries and property damages, and a determination of liability.
When it comes to choosing an expert, you have options: either an accident reconstruction expert or a biomechanical expert.
The accident reconstruction expert resolves issues such as speeds, collision severity, a driver’s visibility, a driver’s ability to have avoided the wreck, and other causal factors.
On the other hand, a biomechanical expert has formal education or training in engineering and bodily or tissue injury. Compared with the accident reconstructionist, the biomechanical expert can render opinions on topics including injury mechanism, velocity or other forces applied to drivers during the wreck, driver motions, and the use or effectiveness of restraints.
No matter whether you choose an accident reconstruction or biomechanical expert (or both), either will assist your case by:
- Investigating the scene. The expert will investigate the accident scene to gather evidence leading to their expert opinions, assisting your attorney with developing legal strategies.
- Assisting with discovery. During the early stages of the investigation, an expert’s report can help your attorney identify possible witnesses, create an initial theory of liability, develop questions for depositions, and evaluate all possible alternatives.
- Educating the fact finder. If your case goes to trial, an expert witness plays the vital role of educating the fact finder (i.e., the judge and/or jury). The expert will have rendered an expert opinion, which your attorney may introduce as an exhibit to the court. The expert will then walk through their analysis and reconstruction modeling, which may include computer modeling, video simulations, and photogrammetry.
Injured in a Vehicle Collision? Contact Adamson Ahdoot Today
Have you been injured in a vehicle collision? Have your personal injuries affected your ability to enjoy your daily life or continue in your profession? Don’t continue to suffer.
At Adamson Ahdoot LLP, we have a panel of forensic and medical experts available to investigate your case. Working with a trusted partner can help you navigate the claims process, obtain an appropriate accident reconstruction expert, and succeed in court.
Contact us today with any questions or for a free consultation.