Reconstructing an Auto Accident
I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.
Today’s question comes from a caller who asked: “The crash I was in involved multiple vehicles, and every driver has a different story of how it happened. How can we prove what I say happened is correct?”
When the dust settles following an auto accident, what factors are essential to proving who was primarily at fault for the crash?
Well, beyond the obvious, which includes interviewing witnesses and looking for video cameras that might have captured the crash, attorneys often need to resort to hiring an accident reconstructionist.
An accident reconstruction expert specializing in traffic, engineering, physics, and understanding the scene evidence can help discern what caused a crash to occur.
An accident reconstruction expert will examine all the data in reverse, much like watching a movie backward. They start with the wreckage and work back to a time before the accident happened. This process allows the forensic engineers to determine the exact cause of the collision, the time of impact, and any relevant facts that led up to the accident.
It’s those facts that can determine the outcome of a case.
However, reconstructing an auto accident isn’t quick, easy, or cheap. The length of time to thoroughly reconstruct an auto accident varies by complexity. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months. And as much as every attorney would love to offer auto accident reconstruction to every client who walks in our door, it isn’t always necessary.
An auto accident can change the course of a person’s life in a split second. Only a severe injury case will be a candidate for accident reconstruction.
Severe injuries include brain injuries, head trauma, severe back and neck injuries, internal organ injuries, broken bones, paralysis, permanent disability, and death.
Here is just one example of how an accident reconstructionist turned what seemed to be a hopeless cause into a million-dollar settlement.
Here’s what happened in a nutshell.
An elderly gentleman made a left turn in front of an oncoming semi. The semi smashed into the passenger side of his vehicle. He suffered severe injuries, which ultimately resulted in his death.
After the impact, the truck traveled into the yard of a homeowner near the impact point and nearly smashed into a house.
Photographs of the accident scene were obtained. Photos were taken from the truck rest point and all the way to a traffic light about 1/2 mile back from the impact point.
The accident reconstructionist looked at the data and was able to conclude that the truck was traveling at approximately 55 mph at the time of the impact.
Had the truck been traveling slower, it would not have traveled as far into the yard as it did after impact.
The speed limit was 45 mph.
The accident reconstructionist was able to prepare a video animation to show that at 55 mph, the crash occurred precisely as the evidence at the scene predicted.
We then had the reconstructionist do a video slowing the truck down to 45 mph, keeping all other vehicle movements the same for both vehicles.
This simulated what would’ve happened if the truck was operating at 45 mph.
The simulation video illustrated that the van would have safely completed its turn had the truck been going 45 mph.
Additional evidence established that as a natural outgrowth of our vision, people underestimate the speed of large oncoming objects such as semi-trucks and trains.
The elderly man was very familiar with this particular intersection and that the speed limit for oncoming vehicles was 45 mph. Over his lifetime, he had turned there many times before to get to his home and never had an accident.
The accident reconstruction videos were instrumental in resolving this case favorably for the gentleman’s family.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”