Sometimes it is pretty clear who is at fault in a car accident and why the accident happened in the first place. At other times, it can be very hard to determine. Accidents can be messy, complicated, and even fatal. When the cause of a car accident is unclear, accident reconstruction can be a helpful tool, especially if you are dealing with a personal injury or wrongful death case.
What is Crash Reconstruction?
In 1985 in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR), standardized training in the field of traffic collision reconstruction.
Accident reconstruction, or vehicular collision reconstruction, is the scientific process of figuring out how and why an accident took place, the circumstances, and the mechanics. This includes careful investigation, analysis, and the use of software to determine collision causation and what other factors contributed to the accident: human factors (like the role of the driver), the role of the motor vehicle, or the role of the environment.
Accident reconstruction begins with any known data, like vehicle final rest position or vehicle damage, and then works its way backward to figure out the ultimate cause of the accident and who was at fault.
- There are two types of accident reconstruction: motor vehicle accidents
- pedestrian collisions
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In motor vehicle accidents, an accident reconstruction specialist can determine the car’s speed at impact, the positioning prior to impact and the location of impact. They can determine whether or not seatbelts were used, the force of impact that led to injuries, and the pre-impact locations of the cars.
In pedestrian collisions, accident reconstruction experts are trained to understand the evidence and its relationship to 5 types of pedestrian collisions.
- Wrap trajectory – A decelerating vehicle strikes an adult pedestrian. Their torso wraps up onto the hood of the vehicle.
- Forward projection – This occurs mostly with children because their center of mass is lower than the front of the vehicle.
- Fender vault – When a pedestrian comes into contact with the outer edge of a vehicle and the torso is wrapped onto the hood.
- Roof vault – High-speed impact collisions where the pedestrian becomes airborne.
- Somersault – The pedestrian is flipped into the air and onto the pavement due to the high-speed impact.
Since accident reconstruction is highly specialized work, it is important to understand a few key terms:
- Delta-V- – is a unit of measurement started in the 1970s to measure the severity of a traffic collision
- EDR – stands for Event Data Recorder. Similar to an airplane’s “black box,” EDR is a device installed in a motor vehicle to record technical vehicle and occupant information just before, during, and after a crash.
- Forensic engineer – another term for an accident reconstruction specialist.
- Photogrammetry – a tool to reconstruct crashes using photographs or videos to make measurements.
- Failure analysis – the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of failure, in this case of a motor vehicle.
As you can see, accident reconstruction is a highly specialized skill. You may need one of these specialists to help establish your auto accident case. This is one of the things we can discuss when you call Anthem Injury Lawyers at (702) 857-6000. Our personal injury attorneys offer years of experience representing clients in car accident cases. If you are the victim in an auto accident in Las Vegas, call Anthem Injury Lawyers today at (702) 857-6000. Our *Free* initial consultation can help you discover if you have a case, and how we’ll represent you.
What is an Accident Reconstruction Specialist?
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An accident reconstruction specialist is professionally trained in all areas of motor vehicle accidents, including forensic mapping, crash simulation, 3D animation and determining the identity of the driver and occupants. Like a detective, they investigate how and why a crash occurred by carefully combing through every fact and detail. Here are some of the steps a traffic accident reconstructionist might take:
A collision reconstruction engineer will first review all available documents and information. This may include police reports, photographs taken at the scene of the accident, video, depositions, medical records, autopsy reports, and mapping.
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Next, a collision reconstruction specialist will gather additional data to build upon the evidence on hand. They might interview law enforcement, witnesses, or anyone involved in the accident. They might use crash data retrieval systems to gain more insight into the final moments of the crash. They might analyze injuries caused by the accident.
The accident reconstruction specialist is responsible for photographing and recording the vehicle’s damage. They will make note if the car’s lights were on or working during the collision and seat positions for the interior seats. They might also be able to determine the direction of force each vehicle at the time of the crash, and if a failed component contributed to the crash.
Once they’ve gathered as much data and information as they can, a professional engineer will use forensic mapping to create a collision situation map. This can include a 3D model of the accident to show the accident scene and relevant evidence.
Finally, with all the evidence gathered—including the reconstruction of the crash, the reconstruction specialist will look at the possible contributing factors like the vehicle’s speed, adherence to traffic signals, if the driver lost control of the vehicle due to component failure, etc.
How to Know if you Need Accident Reconstruction
A professional accident reconstruction specialist can provide key information that could help your case that evidence alone, cannot. For example, a reconstruction and confirm ground contact to the vehicle undercarriage during the accident– something photographs alone cannot. A personal injury attorney could have a harder time winning your case without accident reconstruction providing expert testimony.
If your case has questions around vehicle speed, sight distance, collision severity, or code violations then you might want to consider hiring a professional accident reconstructionist– especially if your case involves a wrongful death or serious injury. Even if your vehicle collision was minor, an accident reconstruction could save you from potentially hurtful and subjective interpretation.
If liability is an issue, then you definitely want an accident reconstructionist. Sometimes liability is not clear, which is why it might be a good idea to still have an expert in vehicle accident reconstruction analyze your case so that you are not relying solely on witnesses to defend your case.
Accident reconstructionists can help your case by:
- Calculate vehicle speed and movement at the time of the crash
- Evaluate the physics of the accident scene
- Determine the order of events and how the damage occurred
- Determine the positions of the vehicles pre- and post-crash
- Determine the magnitude of the impact
- Determine if either car accelerated before impact
- Determine if either driver or passengers were wearing seatbelts
- Determine viability
With years of experience representing clients in Las Vegas car accident cases, Anthem Injury Lawyers can help you determine if an accident reconstruction specialist is needed for your case. We offer a *Free* initial consultation, so we will be able to discuss accident reconstruction and more aspects of your case. Call our Las Vegas personal injury law firm now: (702) 857-6000.
How to Choose an Accident Reconstruction Specialist
You want to be sure to choose someone with at least a few years of experience, training and education. Thoroughly examine their credentials. Some questions to consider when choosing an accident reconstruction specialist right for your case:
- How many years of on-site traffic accident investigation experience do you have?
- How many traffic accidents have you investigated?
- How much traffic accident training have you received?
- How many times have you given or accepted testimony as an expert witness in court?
- What certifications have you attained?
Experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been in an auto accident in the State of Nevada, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who is licensed in Nevada as soon as possible. They can help you determine if you need an accident reconstruction specialist, and other steps to take next. The law firm of Anthem Injury Lawyers has a dedicated team of car accident lawyers and staff who are ready to help you with your car accident case.
We offer free case evaluations. Our office is conveniently located in Henderson, but we work with clients all over the Las Vegas Valley, including North Las Vegas, Summerlin, Spring Valley, Anthem, and the Strip. Contact us today for a free consultation at (702) 857-6000.