Written by attorney Sean Cleary

How Important Is an Accident Reconstruction Expert for My Vehicle Accident Case?

What is Accident reconstruction?

When a car, motorcycle, truck or bicycle, accident occurs, the persons involved may not be able to recall the exact facts or they may have contradictory statements. One of the most common line of the witnesses is "I don’t know! It all happened so fast!" In order to build a strong case, your lawyer might require the assistance of an accident reconstruction team of experts.

Accident reconstruction defines the process of investigating, analyzing, and formulating conclusions about the causes and events during a vehicle collision.

How can I tell if I need a reconstruction professional?

The more complex and controversial is an accident, the more important is the testimony of a reconstruction professional. In litigation cases involving death and/or personal injuries the accident reconstruction is required especially if relevant evidence is missing or is incomplete.

Expert testimony is fundamental in settlement negotiations of the car accident cases. By using different means such as simulations, models, illustrations or animations they show exactly what happened and how it happened, as well as how it could have been prevented.

The photographs from the scene and the medical records usually prove the severity of the accident or damages rather than showing who was at fault. In some of the most complicated cases, it may happen that both sides hire their own experts and their reports may indicate opposite findings. In this situation, experts' credibility is a decisive factor.

How can the accident reconstruction experts help my case?

In order to claim any compensation for your damages (injuries, property damage, etc.), you have to prove the negligence of the other party.

Accident reconstruction experts have the capacity to:

  • evaluate the accident scene physics
  • calculate vehicle speeds and movements
  • determine the exact circumstances of the accident and how damages occurred
  • testify their findings to the court or insurance company representatives.

Reconstruction experts are professionals who have undertaken special training in a variety of backgrounds:

  • science education
  • engineering
  • law enforcement who have undertaken special training.

How is the accident reconstructed?

In order for the experts to determine the circumstances of the accident, first there is an investigation of the scene which is then followed by the analysis of the findings.

The site investigation includes:

  • site visits to the scene of the crash
  • inspecting and photographing the scene of the accident
  • interviewing witnesses
  • evaluation of vehicle, environmental and human factors
  • assessing the presence of surrounding road signs and/or signals and identifying possible visibility issues.

The analysis and interpretation of data

Based on the evidence, the reconstruction experts create possible scenarios of the accident by creating models, recreating the accident and building software simulations. The analysis and interpretation of data includes:

  • risk analysis
  • identification of actions that could have been taken to avoid the accident, or to reduce the severity of the injuries
  • commercial maintenance regulations and evaluation
  • computer-aided animation and simulation of the crash (by utilizing diagrams and/or 3-D animation)
  • injury analysis and passengers kinematics helps explaining the occupant movement or ejections
  • review driving errors
  • preparing the final report. That report often forms basis for the expert’s testimony in court.

How do I choose the reconstruction expert?

The careful selection of the accident reconstructionist is a key factor in your lawsuit. The expert’s testimony will help the judge and the jury to understand the technical issues of the case. You need a person or team well versed and able to analyze evidence and develop opinions for your particular case.

Upon hiring an expert, be sure to research their:

  • credentials
  • experience
  • reputation and integrity.

An expert has to:

  • review the facts
  • know the standards in question
  • formulate and test prove theories
  • refine the conclusions of their analysis into an understandable review for the jury.

A reputable expert has to present his own unbiased conclusions and he is not expected to reiterate preconceived ideas of other parties.

You know you’ve chosen a good expert if before accepting the case, he wants to review all the relevant facts of the accident.

An expert also needs to have good communication skills. A relationship based on fluent communication and trust has to be built between the client and the expert. For example if the client recalls any new details he should not be intimidated when it comes to communicating them to the reconstructionist. Also, if the expert realizes, at some point, that he cannot successfully contribute to the case, it’s his duty to be truthful with the client.

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