Many traffic accidents happen in a very few seconds, and even eye witnesses cannot say with certainty exactly what happened. In such cases, Tennessee police departments often call upon their accident reconstruction teams to explain the exact sequence of events. Persons seeking to recover damages likewise employ such experts to aid in explaining how or why the accident happened. Understanding how such experts conduct their investigations and arrive at their conclusions can illuminate the science of accident reconstruction.
The first steps
The first step in almost every road accident reconstruction is a careful collection of data from the accident scene. Such data collection involves photographs, video recording, careful measurements of skid marks, and recording of the final position of the vehicles. If victims were thrown from their vehicles, the team will record their positions and the distances from the vehicles in which they were riding.
An important second step is a detailed inspection of the vehicles involved in the collision. If a commercial vehicle was involved, the investigators may seek information from the vehicle’s information recorder. Investigators will also consult a number of tables that list the resistance to impact of various vehicle models.
Perhaps the most sophisticated method used by accident investigators is the use of computer simulation. Many programs exist that can use data from the crash scene to produce a graphic simulation of the accident itself. A computer simulation can provide speeds of the vehicles, angles of impact, likely damage, and probable injuries to the victims. Such simulations can be very helpful in explaining the cause of an accident to a jury.
The science of accident reconstruction can assist both public agencies such as police departments and private claimants in reaching a scientifically verifiable conclusion about how an accident may have happened. These conclusions can assist a person who may have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in recovering damages for medical expenses and funeral expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.