Accident reconstruction involves using investigative, engineering, and physics to attempt to determine the cause of an accident. The reconstructionist uses evidence to draw conclusions about what might have caused or contributed to an accident. Reconstruction is typically used for severe crashes or accidents involving fatalities. In Virginia, testimony of accident reconstruction experts is severely limited, and in most cases it will not be allowed, as the Court has been very reluctant to find that the circumstances upon which the experts base their opinions are EXACTLY like the real circumstances. Assumptions or reliance upon “averages” are not generally allowed, so the role of the reconstruction expert is limited.
Some evidence is physical — things you can see or touch — such as the cars themselves, skid marks, traffic signals, and medical records. Other evidence is testimonial, such as statements given by the drivers, passengers, and other witnesses.
In an accident reconstruction, all of the evidence is pieced together much like a puzzle. The reconstructionist uses principles of physics, engineering, and mathematics to determine issues like the following:
- The speed of each vehicle at the time of impact;
- Whether brakes were applied and, if so, the distance;
- Whether the brakes of the vehicles had been properly maintained or might have failed;
- The angle of impact;
- Driver steering input;
- Whether the roadway surface was slick, due to factors such as oil or ice;
- Whether either driver was violating federal or state laws when the crash occurred.
The uses of accident reconstruction are not limited to lawsuits. Car manufacturers sometimes use reconstruction to identify potential vehicle safety issues and to improve car safety. State and federal highway agencies also use accident reconstruction to improve the safety of roadways and related devices, such as guardrails.
Modern-day accident reconstructionists and their clients benefit from computer technology. There are many programs that help reconstructionist by performing computations, testing theories of the crash, and re-creating accidents.
At The Sandler Law Group, we believe in avoiding accidents whenever possible. However, if you or a family member were injured in an accident and you’re considering hiring a lawyer, ASK ABOUT IT! Call us toll free at 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online atwww.sandlerlaw.net or email us at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net to get started.