The role of an accident reconstructionist is to provide a forensic conclusion to the cause and events of an accident. Some accidents may involve passenger vehicles or consumer products, such as an ATV. Other accidents could occur while operating farm or industrial equipment, such as tractors, bulldozers, or backhoes. On occasion, the events or cause of an accident can be explained. There are, however, instances where the events of an accident are either unexplained or disputed. Unexplained or disputed accidents, particularly an accident that becomes a legal matter, may require scientific investigations conducted by a qualified accident reconstructionist.
An accident reconstructionist is an individual who has the knowledge -through education- and the experience to apply the laws of physics, and the engineering principles to investigate, collect, and analyze evidence to render a forensic conclusion to the cause and events during an accident.
It is common for plaintiff or defense attorneys to hire an accident reconstructionist to render a forensic conclusion to the cause and events during an accident in civil litigation matters. Accident reconstructionists have also been utilized by prosecuting and defense attorneys in criminal matters. Additionally, insurance companies or employers may use an accident reconstructionist to recreate on- the-job accidents related to workers compensation claims.
The investigation for a vehicle accident, for example, includes the accident scene where the accident occurred. The accident reconstructionist will photograph and take measurements, such as measuring tire marks on the roadway. Physical evidence from the accident scene is documented, collected and photographed. The vehicle or vehicles are examined and photographed. If available, the information from the event data recorder or black box is downloaded and analyzed. The investigation will also include reviewing police reports, witness statements, and other discovery materials.
Combined with matching the physical evidence retrieved during the investigation, the accident reconstructionist uses scientific mathematical analysis to recreate an accurate portrayal of the events during an accident. The accident reconstructions may use software, such as computer aided design (CAD), models, or forensic animation, and in some cases utilizing testing to recreate the events of an accident.
Once the investigation is completed and the accident is reconstructed; the accident reconstructionist prepares expert opinions -related to the cause and events of the accident- in a written report. All aspects related to the accident are typically included in the findings, such as the time and day of the accident, the weather and roadway conditions, and the make and model of the vehicle or vehicles. It is common for the accident reconstructionist to include diagrams and exhibits, such as a video or an animation that may be used to demonstrate the expert's opinions in easy-to-understand terms. The accident reconstructionist will produce his expert opinions during a deposition. Additionally, the accident reconstructionist has a duty to describe to a jury or trier of fact the order or sequence of events that occurred during the accident.
In conclusion, an accident reconstructionist may investigate various types of accidents. Regardless the type of accident investigated, the accident reconstructionist applies the same ideologies, which is to apply the laws of physics and engineering principles to investigate, collect, and analyze evidence to render (for their client) a forensic conclusion to the cause and events of an accident.
EI Consultants, LLC offers a variety of engineering research, consulting, and public services related to the automotive industry, tire failure and design, fire investigations and materials failure. The engineers have expertise in accident reconstruction, automotive mechanical failures; and deposition and trial testimony.
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