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Everything You Need to Know About Accident Reconstructionists

When it comes to communicating the intricacies of complex accidents, few organizations do it better than the Chemical Safety Board (CSB). The CSB is known for their use of animated recreations to help explain accidents, involving technical disciplines from advanced chemistry to mechanical physics and thermodynamics. These animations take hard-to-grasp events and turn them into easy-to-understand narratives, highlighting the power of simplifying complex information.

While the CSB focuses on industrial accidents, the same principle applies to all types of accidents. This is where accident reconstructionists come in, helping to simplify mountains of data and reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the outcome. Their ability to simplify and visualize data not only allows regular people to grasp complex events but can alter the trajectory of a person’s life forever.

In this article, we will explore the role of accident reconstructionists, why and when people might need them, and the methods they use to reconstruct accidents.

What Do Accident Reconstructionists Do?

Accident reconstructionists are experts in their field who specialize in investigating and analyzing accidents to determine how they occurred. They use various techniques, including 3D animation, illustrations, and analysis, to explain the intricacies of a product failure, improper medical treatment, toxic contamination, vehicle collisions, industrial explosions, and other complex events.

In the context of trial law, accident reconstructionists convert raw data into compelling animations, illustrations, and analyses that help attorneys, judges, and juries better understand what happened. 3D animation depicts the sequence of events leading up to an accident in a way that is easy to understand. The use of illustrations emphasizes, dramatizes, and clarifies evidence, while deep scientific analysis tools allow accident reconstructionists to recreate cameras, show accurate vehicle speeds, understand line of sight, and more.

Why Use Accident Reconstructionists?

Accidents are often traumatic experiences, leading to memory issues and imperfect recollection. Insurers and their defense teams often exploit these memory problems to put plaintiffs at a disadvantage. Accident reconstructionists, on the other hand, take the objective data of an event to reconstruct the sequence of steps that led to the end result, providing a more accurate and scientific result.

Unlike police reports, accident reconstructionists base their findings on data, not recollection, which provides a major advantage. By using scientific evidence and expertise, they can present a clear and objective picture of what happened. This objective approach helps attorneys, judges, and juries better understand the cause and liability of an accident, leading to a fairer outcome for those impacted.

When Do People Need Accident Reconstructionists?

Accidents involve different factors, including complex forces, injuries, and contexts. In many cases, it is essential to call on accident reconstructionists to help determine and convey the cause and liability of an accident.

Here are some instances where people may need an accident reconstructionists:

When There’s Been an Accident Involving Complex Forces

Accidents involving complex forces, such as multiple vehicles, machinery, or equipment, require a detailed investigation to determine how the forces interacted and caused the accident. Accident reconstructionists often employ multiple fields of study (e.g. mechanical engineering, chemistry, and biology) to provide an accurate picture of what happened. Their scientific analysis recreates the event and provides a clear picture of how certain forces contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.

When There’s Been an Injury Involving Unfamiliar Procedures

An accident’s complexity might be due to a high-level procedure few jurors are familiar with, particularly those involving medical treatments, surgeries, or medical devices. Accident reconstruction simplifies the intricacies behind improper or negligent medical treatment, helping juries understand more fully how a doctor’s actions fell far outside the norm of standard procedure. Moreover, accident recreation analyzes the cause and liability of manufacturing failures, including malfunctioning medical devices and the damages caused by them.

When an Accident Involves a Context Juries May Not Be Familiar With

Some accidents happen in contexts that may be unfamiliar to the jurors, such as oil refineries or offshore rigs. Coming to a just verdict requires juries to intimately understand the situation a plaintiff was in, which is only possible with an accurate and compelling recreation of the situation. Accident reconstructionists can help provide a clear picture of these unique or rare accidents, converting raw data into animations, illustrations, and analyses that make complex situations easy to understand.

Regardless of the situation, an effective accident reconstruction provides valuable insights that help plaintiffs’ attorneys present compelling evidence in court. By employing careful scientific analysis to build 3D recreations, accident reconstructionists provide a credible and powerful service to help plaintiffs get justice and compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.

How Experts Reconstruct Accidents

While an accident’s reconstruction methods vary depending on the type of accident, their goal remains the same: to examine the physical evidence and reconstruct the events leading up to the incident.

For car accidents, the process typically begins with visiting the scene of the accident and examining the vehicles involved. Reconstructionists will inspect the collision points, angle of collision, and any other objects that were involved in the collision such as bicycles, light poles, or trees. They will also examine physical evidence such as tire marks, which can indicate the speed of the vehicle and whether the driver was paying attention.

In addition to examining the physical evidence, reconstructionists will review environmental conditions such as the road surface, weather, visibility, and road sign placement. They’ll also investigate any unaddressed safety recalls associated with any of the vehicles. Using this information, they’ll apply kinematics, a field of physics studying objects in motion, to determine how the accident happened.

What About Other Types of Accidents?

It’s important to note that the process for reconstructing different types of accidents may vary.

For instance, a toxic exposure case might require experts in respiratory health and organic chemistry, while a malpractice surgery case would require experts in hospital administration and surgical procedures. A train derailment case would require experts in kinematics, but for a very different kind of collision. An industrial accident would require experts in mechanical engineering and/or chemical manufacturing, particularly for whatever machine is under investigation.

Regardless of the type of accident, accident reconstructionists use their expertise to create a clear picture of what happened leading up to the incident. By analyzing the evidence and applying scientific principles, they can help lawyers build a strong case for their clients.

Accident Reconstruction Needs to Happen Quickly

In this final section, we will discuss how soon reconstructionists need to be at the site of an accident and why.

Accident reconstructionists rely on a variety of sources of data to reconstruct an accident, including physical evidence, witness statements, and police reports. However, they do a better job when they have access to as much information as possible, and this is especially true for physical evidence at the scene of the accident. Ideally, they’d be at the site of the accident before the vehicles are even collected.

By being at the scene of the accident, reconstructionists can take their own photos and examine the evidence firsthand. They can see visibility problems themselves and make observations that might not be evident from police reports or witness statements. This firsthand knowledge allows them to provide a more accurate reconstruction of the accident and determine who was objectively at fault.

Fortunately, modern technology means a lot of data from the scene of the accident will be available after the fact. However, this information might be incomplete, and it might not tell the full story of what happened. For example, weather conditions might have changed since the accident, or physical evidence might have been altered. By being on the site of the accident as soon as possible, accident reconstructionists can gather the most accurate information possible to reconstruct the accident and determine its cause.

Accident reconstruction is an important innovation in the field of injury law. Plaintiffs can leverage scientific analysis and cutting-edge visual recreations like no other time in history, allowing juries to experience life-changing accidents right alongside them. When it comes to getting justice, that’s ultimately what injury attorneys are trying to do: show juries what it’s like to be their client.

From there, juries typically know the right thing to do.

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