According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, approximately 37,000 people are killed in traffic accidents each year in the United States, and another 2.35 million are injured or disabled. When a motor vehicle accident occurs, especially if it results in a fatality or serious injuries, it is typically investigated. In many situations, determining the exact events that occurred directly before and during a motor vehicle accident can be extremely complicated and deciding who is at fault can be very difficult. In these situations, it is common for a car crash to be reconstructed.
Accident reconstruction consists of the investigation of multiple factors that surround an accident, and the practice is often very complex. When an accident reconstruction specialist is employed, reconstruction usually begins with an inspection of the accident site. Measurements are taken with the use of electronic survey equipment to analyze the evidence that is left behind by the vehicles such as skid marks, gouge marks, point of impact and final resting point of each vehicle. Once the measurements are complete, a computer generated diagram of the accident is created. The investigator will often also obtain light change schedules and evaluate the safety of the roadway.
In most situations, an inspection of each vehicle involved is also performed. Specialists evaluate the damage to each vehicle as well as the brakes, steering and other mechanical components to help them determine the cause of the accident.
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The Assistance of Computer Technology
Fortunately, 96 percent of new vehicles are now equipped with Event Data Recorders or Crash Data Recorders (similar to the black boxes used in airplanes) that are designed to assist investigators with the reconstruction of motor vehicle accidents. These innovative tools provide reconstruction specialists with critical data about events leading up to and occurring during a crash. They report important factors like vehicle speed, braking status, ignition cycles, throttle position, seat belt status and more.
When vehicles are not equipped with Event Data Recorders or Crash Data Recorders, the accident reconstruction specialist is left to rely on physics and engineering to recreate the accident and determine its cause. In the old days, this process was extremely complicated and time consuming. Advances in technology, however, have enabled reconstruction specialists to complete the required tasks much more quickly, accurately, and more efficiently.
The use of inexpensive computers and specialized software has revolutionized the accident reconstruction industry. Both law enforcement officials and reconstruction consultants commonly use software like CAD (computer aided design) programs, momentum and energy analysis programs, collision simulators, and photogrammetry software to recreate motor vehicle accidents.
Once an analysis of a car accident is complete, reconstruction specialists prepare report findings and create diagrams and even animated videos to present their conclusions during their expert testimony. The animated videos are often used in a courtroom setting to enable jurors to visualize the conclusions made by the specialist.
Accident Reconstruction and Your Case
Accident reconstruction is crucial to building a strong case in a car accident. Many people who are involved in motor vehicle accidents are not aware that there are numerous things they can do to assist in the investigation of their crash and help determine who is at fault.
- Whenever possible, individuals who are involved in an accident should take photos of the vehicle positions and damages immediately after the crash. Phone cameras can do this very effectively.
- Individuals should try to collect the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. In may cases, witness recollection can be very helpful in the recreation of a vehicle crash.
- It is advisable for individuals who are involved in car crashes to take written notes of anything they remember about the events leading up to the accident as soon as possible after the event to avoid forgetting important details.
- Individuals should begin building their case as quickly as possible to avoid the loss of evidence. Severe weather, extensive traffic and other factors can have a significant impact on the evidence that will be evaluated by an accident reconstruction specialist.
- Injuries should be treated by a health care professional promptly in order to provide documentation that could be helpful in reconstructing the accident.
When to Employ the Services of a Vehicle Accident Reconstruction Specialist
Most accident reconstruction specialists are highly trained to recreate accidents involving passenger vehicles, motorcycles, large trucks, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians. Additionally, car accident reconstruction technology can be used to effectively analyze accidents involving multiple vehicles as well as single car crashes. When individuals are involved in a vehicle crash and the cause is not clear or there is a conflict with the other parties involved, employing the services of a reconstruction specialist is likely the best solution to provide the answers needed to win compensation.