Many media reports of accidents involving cars and trucks end with the sentence, “The investigation is continuing.” How can an accident investigation be continuing after the damaged vehicles and all debris have been removed from the scene? The answer lies in the science of accident reconstruction.
What is “accident reconstruction?”
Accident reconstruction is an engineering discipline that uses careful observation together with the laws of physics and chemistry to determine the last position of the vehicles before the collision occurred, vehicle speed, and the force of impacts. The reconstruction can also determine how the physical forces in the accident affected any persons who may have been in the vehicles.
The process of accident reconstruction
These engineers begin their work by making a careful inventory of the scene. They note the position of all involved vehicles, measure the length of skid marks, and measure the extent of physical damage that each vehicle suffered. The investigators make a record of the scene by photographing the vehicles after they came to rest and making a videotape record of the scene.
The investigators also use publications that describe how much a vehicle’s frame will resist being deformed by the accident. The engineers also use GPS technology to measure how far a vehicle traveled before and after impact. If required, the accident investigation team can also make a digital simulation of the accident; these simulations are often used in the courtroom to help the jury determine liability.
Some of the engineering specialties used in the reconstruction investigation include aerial photography, DNA analysis, metallurgy and highway design.
The uses of accident reconstruction
Perhaps the most important use of an accident reconstruction is assisting law enforcement agencies to determine whether any laws were broken by the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident. The second most important use of accident reconstruction is determining which drivers may have been negligent and may have caused the accident.
Getting sound legal advice
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a complicated traffic accident may wish to consider seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, future lost income, and pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know whether to incur the expense of a post-accident investigation and reconstruction.