Accident reconstruction refers to the process of recreating the scene of an accident with the help of an expert witness. Accident reconstruction is usually used in personal injury cases, or when it is difficult to determine who was at fault.
It is typically employed in automobile crash lawsuits, in order to determine exact mechanisms of the accident and resulting injuries. In their presentation of reconstructing the accident, the lawyer or expert witness may often use tools such as:
- Video and audio footage;
- Witness testimony;
- Charts, tables, diagrams, and graphs;
- Police reports and other report findings; and
- In some cases, computer animation.
If your case involves complex visuals or needs an expert witness, then there may be extra fees associated with the accident reconstruction.
Accident reconstruction is useful in cases where the car accident was fatal or resulted in severe bodily injury. In car accident cases, the method is often called by other names, such as “traffic accident reconstruction.” Common personal injury claims that use accident reconstruction are:
What is Forensic Animation?
Forensic animation is a specific type of accident reconstruction that uses computer programs to create the accident. They are commonly used for car crash cases. For instance, these programs can incorporate physics calculations, such as one car going 20 mph and the other going 55 mph.
The use of forensic animation in trial is still subject to debate. Courts are still considering whether forensic animation is accurate enough to be used as evidence in trial.
Forensic animation shouldn’t be a party's only piece of evidence. The defense or plaintiff should use forensic animation with other forms of evidence as well, such as actual video footage or witness testimonies.
What are Some Important Aspects of Traffic Accident Reconstruction?
Some accident reconstruction methods may go into great detail in order to piece the events of the accident together. Aside from the tools mentioned above, traffic accident reconstruction can look at the following in order to help determine the details of the accident:
- Braking and steering angles;
- Use of headlights or turn signal lights (or failure to use lights);
- Engine speed at the time of the accident;
- Whether cruise control was engaged at the time;
- Physical evidence such as tire marks, paint scratches, and other marks;
- Length of skid marks; and/or
- Inspection of the road surface for elements like ice, snow, black ice, obstacles, or road debris.
For many cars, much of this information may be recorded in event data recorders, which provide valuable information such as car speed at the time of the collision or right before the collision. Accident reconstruction for other incidents like slip and fall cases may involve a similar amount of detailed analysis.
What is Motorcycle Accident Reconstruction?
Motorcycle accident reconstruction is very similar to accident reconstruction for automobiles, except that it deals with special factors involved in motorcycle crashes. Similar techniques and analyses are used, with a focus on specific motorcycle elements, such as:
- Reaction Time: Here the analysis focuses on the amount of time a rider may have had to react to a vehicle, obstacle, pedestrian, or hazard. The faster the motorcycle is traveling, the less reaction time the rider has
- Avoidance Measures: Here the court will look at whether the motorcyclist took any evasive measures, such as swerving, braking, steering, or other movements.
- Sliding: When a motorcyclist brakes, the bike may often begin to slide if the front wheel locks. This can cause the rider to slide while on the bike.
- Impact: The court will also look at the nature of any impacts or collisions the bike was involved in. This can be impact with another vehicle, stationary objects like a wall, or other items. Physical evidence collected at the spot of impact can be of great assistance.
- Post-Impact: The court will also look at any motion that occured after an impact or collision. In many cases, the biker may be separated from their bike and slide on the ground for some distances.
- Here, the court can analyze slide patterns to help make determinations regarding injuries. Examining slide patterns can sometimes help determine the speeds involved during and after the crash.
How Is Accident Reconstruction Evidence Analyzed?
The court needs to review the accident reconstruction evidence in order to determine its accuracy and relevance to the case. If the evidence does not support the party’s claim, it sometimes can’t be entered in as evidence in official court records.
Most courts use the following factors when analyzing accident reconstruction evidence (including forensic animation):
- Authenticity: The court needs to verify that the evidence being presented is authentic.This is a fairly straightforward determination
- Relevance: The evidence needs to be related to the party’s claims
- Accuracy: The evidence needs to be a “fair and accurate representation”. This is where many forensic animation devices fail
- Probative Value: Any dangers that the evidence would unfairly prejudice a party should be outweighed by its usefulness in proving a claim.
The accident reconstruction evidence is thoroughly analyzed by the court before it can be admitted into the record. Also, the judge may give the jury specific instructions about an item of evidence.
Should I Get a Lawyer for Assistance with Accident Reconstruction?
Proving fault in an accident sometimes can be difficult and may require the use of accident reconstruction methods. A local and experienced personal injury lawyer can help you prepare your case for trial and find the right expert witness for you.