What is an Accident Reconstruction Expert?

 

Car accidents are complicated and catastrophic by nature. Although everything may slow down when you experience an accident, there are typically more questions left behind than answers. The more catastrophic the accident, the more likely your attorney will hire an accident reconstruction expert to help answer those questions. But, what exactly is an accident reconstructionist and what do they do? 

Accident reconstruction is the process of utilizing the principles of physics to analyze the physical evidence of an accident scene. Accident reconstruction experts use electronic, video, audio and testimonial evidence from a crash to determine how and why the crash occurred. Accident reconstruction experts may also analyze how an accident could have been avoided given the circumstances. Crashes that are investigated and analyzed include: vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, single vehicle rollover crashes, pedestrian and bicycle crashes, motorcycle crashes, and heavy truck crashes. 

The Investigation

If your attorney hires an accident reconstructionist, the attorney will initially provide the expert with the evidence in the lawyer’s possession. This will include the police report and any photos, videos and witness statements the attorney may have. This gives the expert an initial understanding of the case. The next step of the investigation is the scene inspection and vehicle inspection. During this phase the experts will document the scene by taking photos, 3D laser scans and surveying. They will repeat this process when documenting the vehicles involved in the accident.

The Analysis

The next part of the process is the analysis. During this stage, the accident reconstruction experts will take all the evidence and utilize physics to determine what has happened. They may look at alternative situations, as well, to analyze how an accident could have been avoided. The tools and resources that accident reconstruction experts use in their analysis could include validated research, testing and software. 

Animation

In some instances, an animation or other graphics might be developed based on the accident reconstructionist’s analysis and opinions. It is important that these animations and or graphics are to scale and physics based, meaning everything is an accurate representation of the expert’s analysis and opinions; this is important because the animation needs to be admitted and approved for trial. 

The Report

Once the expert has developed their opinions based on the analysis of the evidence, they will compile their opinions and their work process into a report. This report is then admitted to the court as evidence along with the animation.  

The Testimony

In some situations, a case may settle before a trial occurs, or even before deposition. Should a trial or deposition occur, the expert will be asked to present their findings and answer questions from both the defense and the plaintiff attorneys in what is known as “direct and cross examination.”  Again, this is where all their work, experience and credibility matters. 

The purpose of this blog post is to educate you, the individual that has been impacted by the accident. The more that you understand about the litigation process, the easier it might be to cope with your scenario. Always keep open lines of communication with your attorney if you are concerned or confused about your case.  They are there to support you through this touch time. 

This article was authored and submitted by Justin Lee Holderness.

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