What is forensic accident reconstruction?

In 2016, there were 40,200 deaths due to vehicle accidents according to the National Safety Council. This was a 6% increase over 2015. Every year over two million people are injured or disabled due to motor-vehicle accidents. These accidents must be investigated to determine who is at fault for the accident, who is financially liable to provide financial compensation for accident damages, and who should be criminally charged if a law was broken. To answer these questions, a reconstruction of the accident is often necessary.

Immediately after the Vehicle Accident

Shortly after a vehicle accident, the police arrive to do an initial investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

  1. They interview any survivors of the accident.
  2. They interview eyewitnesses to get their perspective as to what happened.
  3. The police also investigate any possible criminal wrongdoing, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if there was an hours-of-service violation if a commercial driver is involved in an accident.

Accident Investigators

After the initial police investigation takes place, independent investigators who are hired by one or more insurance companies or attorneys are brought in to analyze the events leading up to and including the accident. The primary role of the independent investigator is to determine who caused the accident. Their conclusion will indicate who is financially liable for paying damages. Some of the things accident investigators do at a crash site include:Taking measurements of where

  • Taking measurements of where impact occurred and other important details.
  • Determining the point-of-impact and if there were multiple locations.
  • Examining the final resting position of the vehicle(s).
  • Examining skid, scrub, and gouge marks as well as damage to surrounds such as a curb, objects on the sidewalk, signage, etc.

For example, accident investigators can look at the length of the skid marks to calculate the speed the vehicle was travelling at prior to impact. Many current vehicles have onboard crash data recorders, which provide vital pre-crash data, and it also collects information during the crash.

Accident investigators also inspect the vehicle(s) involved in the accident to see if there was a mechanical malfunction. They assess the damage to the vehicle(s), and they check the driver qualifications in terms of valid licensing. Once the accident investigators have gathered all the information, including the police reports, then they upload this information into electronic surveying equipment to create a computer-generated scale diagram of the accident scene. At this point, they can start reconstructing the accident.

Accident Reconstruction

Accident reconstructions are performed when there is a vehicle accident that involves a fatality or bodily injury.

  • Based on the physical evidence and calculations that were gathered at the scene of the accident, accident investigators can recreate and present the events through forensic animation.
  • Forensic animation provides an important audio-visual presentation to LA personal injury attorneys, insurance companies, and jurors so that they can see a representation of how an accident occurred and who is deemed to be at fault.

Accident investigators play a critical in court cases involving vehicle accidents. Court-qualified accident investigators can use the information they gathered from an accident scene and reconstruct the accident so that they can accurately explain what happened. Their role is also vital in helping to create safer roads, highways, and vehicle safety features. Not every accident requires the services of an accident investigator, but if an accident results in a lawsuit, their expertise can help provide an accurate portrayal of the event.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers for their insight into forensic accident reconstruction.