Back to Basics – Accident Reconstruction

Accident reconstruction is the process of investigating, analyzing, and coming to conclusions on the causes and events that occurred during a collision.

Accident reconstructionists are a crucial part of a crash investigation. Their testimony allows the opinions of an individual who has specialized knowledge, skills, education and/or experience in crash investigation and vehicle dynamics to assist in understanding complex materials. These opinions require work to be done by the testifying expert to review all materials and accurately depict the events that took place.

In a vehicle incident, for example, the process can start with the traffic collision report in which the parties and vehicles involved are identified. Then weather conditions, any impairments and any obstructions are noted by the peace officer that conducts the investigation. An experienced peace officer has the expertise to properly note what contributing factors could have affected the outcome of the collision.

Despite the peace officer’s findings, an accident reconstructionist must also do their own investigation to gather the facts pertaining to the collision. This investigation could consist of getting aerial images of the incident location, researching vehicle specifications for each vehicle involved, conducting accident site and vehicle inspections, reviewing technical literature or any photographs taken on the date of loss, pulling date-of-incident weather condition information, beginning calculations and maybe even a computer-based simulation.

Through this investigation, the accident reconstructionist will draw conclusions on what events occurred before and after the point of impact using the laws of physics, vehicle dynamics and mechanics. This allows the testifying expert to give opinions on the matter.

This article is part of the The Expert Newsletter.: June 2024 Edition


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