What Role does an Accident Reconstructionist Play in Car Accidents? Massachusetts Injury Attorney Explains
When there is a car crash resulting in injuries or someone’s death in Massachusetts, the state typically has an accident reconstructionist investigate the crash, the scene and all available evidence to conduct a study and produce an accident reconstruction report.
What is Accident Reconstruction? Boston Injury Lawyer Explains
Accident reconstruction involves using evidence to best ‘reconstruct’ the conditions before, during and after a car accident. The field is considered a branch of “causation forensics” which takes into account all available information and evidence of an accident to ultimately determine how and why an accident happened.
When a reconstructionist studies an accident, they will take into account factors such as speed; if the diver is observing traffic lights or stop signs; not signaling lane changes; if there was any loss of control of the vehicle due to a defect; dangerous road conditions such as rain, sleet, ice or snow; and visibility issues such as sun glare or fog.
While there is no specific degree or graduate program to become an accident expert or accident reconstructionist, there are various programs that offer certificates and training for accident reconstruction. Accident reconstructionists need to have a strong understanding of physics, mathematics, engineering, car dynamics and more. Many reconstructions often have a history in law enforcement or being a first responder.
What do Accident Reconstructionists do After a Massachusetts Car Crash?
In a sense, accident reconstructionists work backwards -- they take in all available evidence in the present moment to determine the events of the accident in the recent past. Sometimes reconstructionists perform studies the same day of the accident, and other times we’ve had cases in which reconstructionists performed inspections a day or two after the accident. In these cases, police will often use spray paint to communicate the location of certain elements from the scene of the accident - such as where a pedestrian’s shoe landed after being hit by a car in a crosswalk.
Some key factors when an accident is being reconstructed include:
- Inspecting the vehicles, bikes, property (etc) which were involved in the accident
- Analyzing the site of the accident
- Analyzing photos of the vehicles and crash site
- If available, reconstructionists will also review any video footage captured. We’ve had pedestrian and car crash cases, for example, in which local area businesses had security cameras which captured the accidents and we were able to use that in our case and the reconstructionist was able to study it and take it into account.
- Sometimes, cars have what’s known as electronic data, and that is also looked at and studied whenever available.
- Reviewing police reports, traffic reports, any witness accounts and any other evidence made available
- Injuries sustained are also analyzed to the extent to determine if they are consistent with the available evidence
What Does a Typical Accident Reconstruction Report Include?
Reconstructionists take into account all sorts of factors when analyzing an accident. For example, we once represented a client who was injured in a pick up truck collision while they were riding their bike.
In this case, the accident reconstructionist took dozens of photographs, and did a variety of calculations involving speed, time and distance analysis. Things such as the grade of the slope the bicyclist was traveling on, the drag factor of the pick up truck, and speed of both parties was used as part of a calculation to determine both the physical distance and length of time that the pick up truck driver would have had a clear line of sight of the bicyclist.
In this case, the speed of the bicycle was determined by accounting for the slope of the roadway, rolling friction and gravity. The speed of the bike was determined, which then led to being able to calculate the acceleration and travel distance of the bicycle.
Ultimately, the analysis led to the determination that the pick up truck driver would have been able to first see the bicyclist while they were still 100 feet away.
What is the Purpose of an Accident Reconstructionist in a Massachusetts Car Crash?
One of the main purposes of an accident reconstruction report is to help determine the reasonableness of all parties involved. If the accident involved two vehicles, the accident reconstructionist will seek to determine who is most “at fault” by examining all available evidence. The same is true for an accident involving a pedestrian and a car, for example. The accident reconstructionist’s role is to determine the reasonableness of all parties to help determine if, or how much, negligence played a role in the accident.
Accident reconstruction can be done by the state of Massachusetts, or even private sector companies. Either way, the goal is to analyze factors that were at play at the time of an accident and to determine the cause of the collision.
For injury and car accident attorneys, accident reconstruction truly plays a vital role when it comes to assessing why an accident happened and who is at fault. The results of accident reconstruction reports help us build cases in favor of our clients.
Why is Accident Reconstruction Important to Injury Cases in Massachusetts?
Accident Reconstruction can help prove negligence and fault for the car crash. When there is an injured party - whether a pedestrian, bicyclist or another driver - and if an accident reconstructionist deems that the other party was at fault, that means that the injured person legally has the right to compensation to recover from their injuries. When negligence can be proved, it increases the chance of an injured party being able to recover damages.
When there is a contest over who was liable for the accident, accident Reconstructionists also help solve the question of “who is at fault and why?”.
As part of their analysis of an accident, reconstructionists might be able to identify errors a driver made, how a defect in the vehicle contributed to the crash, and how real-time weather and road circumstances were at play.
In the case of the bike and pick up truck accident mentioned earlier, the reconstructionist was able to determine, in light of all circumstances at the time of the accident, the driver of the pick up truck should have had a 0.75 to 1.5 reaction time once seeing the biker. Had the driver reacted responsibly, the reconstructionist determined, they should have completed their reaction process and stopped more than 35 feet away from the place where the impact occurred.
On this particular Massachusetts afternoon, it was daylight, clear weather and dry roads. Despite having a 100 foot field of view of the biker - meaning, the driver should have been able to see the biker while they were still 100 feet away - the pick up truck still collided with the side of the bicycle.
Accident Reconstruction Report Conclusions and Opinions
At the end of the accident reconstruction reports, the reconstructionist will make some conclusions and offer opinions based on their analysis of the accident and available evidence.
In the case of the biker and the pick up truck, the reconstructionist noted the biker was in the pick up truck driver’s line of sight for 3.41 seconds. “There was enough time and distance for [truck driver] to perceive, react and bring the Ford to a stop before it collided with [biker].” Even if the driver waited until the bicyclist entered the road to apply his brakes, the reconstructionist determined the driver still would have had time to stop and avoid a collision.
Instead, the driver claimed not to see the biker until they were already in front of their truck. In the final conclusion, the reconstructionist determined that had the driver “been reasonably attentive” they would have “had enough time and distance to perceive, react and stop the Ford F250 prior to it striking” the biker.
Ultimately, what this report and data revealed to Spada Law Group, is that our client was a bicyclist who was injured in an accident that never should have happened. Being able to demonstrate the negligence of the driver meant that we were able to fight for our client to get the compensation they needed - and were legally entitled to - to recover from their injuries.
Injured in a Massachusetts’ Car Accident? Spada Law Group can help.
Whether you were driving, walking, biking, or on a motorcycle - Spada Law Group’s injury lawyers can help if you were injured in an accident. We’ve helped countless people in Massachusetts get the recovery they need after a car accident.
Learn more about how an injury lawyer can help you in our free book, What you need to Know about your Massachusetts Car Accident Case Before you make any Legal Decisions.