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Understanding accident reconstruction methodology

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Car Accidents

Many media reports of automobile accidents end with the sentence “The investigation is continuing.” A lay person may wonder how the investigation of an accident can continue if the scene has been cleared of debris and the police have had time to make a complete photo record of the scene. The answer is “accident reconstruction.”

Many police departments have teams of investigators who have been trained to inspect a scene, record pertinent data, and provide a report on the pre- and post-accident movements of the various involved vehicles.

Many private engineering firms also maintain such teams, and their services help law enforcement agencies and the various parties involved in the accident understand the movement of the vehicles prior to the accident, their movement after the collision, and their movement with respect to victims.

The basics of accident reconstruction

The science that is used to reconstruct the occurrences in a highway accident is generally known as forensic engineering. In most cases, a team of forensic engineers is assigned to inspect the accident scene, perform certain post-accident inquiries, and present a report on the cause and effect of the accident. Accident investigators start their investigation with a thorough inspection of the accident scene.

They note the position of the vehicles, their attitudes relative to the grade, and to each other. Most accident investigators use modern digital equipment to record the scene, including the final resting place of the involved vehicles. Among the critical data are the final resting place of the vehicles, whether they crashed into any road side signs or other structures.

Once the scene has been thoroughly inventoried, the engineers begin a laboratory evaluation of their observations. Most forensic engineering firms maintain an extensive laboratory of the impact resistance of various automotive designs, which in turn can lead to conclusions about the impact speeds of the vehicles.

Final Product

The final report usually consists of a computerized animation of the various elements of the accident, including the human victims. In most cases, the accident reconstruction specialists will be able to provide a digital animation of the accident that shows the pre- and post-accident velocities of the various vehicles involved. The animation may also demonstrate the destructive force of the various impacts.

The animated report can be a very effective tool in explaining the accident to an investigative committee or a jury. The precise use of the digital report may be up to the choice of a skilled attorney.