Many media reports of motor vehicle accidents end with the phrase “The investigation is continuing.” This sentence may seem incongruous – how can an investigation be continued after the debris from the scene of accident is cleaned up? The answer lies in the fact that most automobile accident investigations do not end when the debris is cleared away.
Most investigations continues long after clean-up is completed. A thorough investigation involves many steps that occur after the accident site is cleaned up. This part of the investigation involves the careful study of the accident site and scientific analysis of the debris itself. These extended investigations are often referred to as accident reconstructions, and they involve the efforts of a specialized branch of engineering called “forensic engineering.”
What is accident reconstruction?
An accident reconstruction uses mathematics and science to reconstruct the events of an accident in precise chronological order. The first step taken by a forensic engineer is to make a careful inventory of the site. The engineer will make careful note of the location of involved vehicles, any skid marks on the pavement or grass, damage to the vehicles and injuries to any occupants.
The investigator will also note damage to traffic signs as “stop,” “yield,” and reflectors or lights. Reconstruction of a traffic accident scene also involves making a careful visual record of the scene. This record may include video images, still photographs, and records of interviews with witnesses.
Most forensic engineers maintain extensive records of how various automobile models withstand the impact of a crash. These records can be used to estimate the forces at play in the collision.
Use of modern technology
Many software products are available that can be used by engineers to create a video simulation of the accident. Such a simulation can be shown to a jury or to the adverse party to explain how the accident happened and demonstrate or refute a party’s theory of who is liable for damages. An accident simulation can become a persuasive piece of evidence and can help enhance the recovery of damages.