What is an Accident Reconstruction Expert?
Anyone that has been involved in an accident knows that the police come out, take statements, examine the scene and the cars involved. They may or may not measure skid marks and other physical evidence. At the conclusion of their investigation, they might cite one or more drivers for specific driving infractions. They may also elect to not issue citations to either driver. The police report is an important document in any personal injury case, but it is generally not admissible at trial.
Another common issue with police reports is that they may reach an incorrect conclusion. For example, in a recent rear end collision, the driver of the car that collided into the rear of another vehicle told the officer at the scene that the other car had cut her off. Immediately after she was cut off, the other driver slammed on the brakes causing the rear end collision. The driver of the other vehicle and the three passengers in that car all stated that it was driver in the rear who was at fault. The officer wrote the accident report and cited the rear driver with careless driving, essentially placing all blame for the accident upon her. At trial for the careless driving offense, the police officer admitted that both stories were equally plausible, but he decided to give greater weight to the statements of the passengers riding with the other driver.
Accident reconstruction is a scientific approach to solve the issues of how and why a particular accident occurred. If the case above were to go to trial, it would represent an ideal situation to utilize the skills of an accident reconstruction expert. The reconstruction expert might begin with the accident report to obtain the date and time of the accident, location of the accident, vehicle makes and models, witnesses, statements and other pertinent information. The expert would then want to visit the scene and document the conditions faced by the drivers, as closely as possible. The accident reconstruction expert will also document the condition of the cars. They will then use science to determine how the accident occurred. The accident reconstruction expert also has a role at the trial to testify to his/her opinion and have the ability to convey that opinion effectively to the jury.
Accident Reconstruction Animations
You have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. In today’s world, I would argue that it is worth substantially more. Therefore, accident reconstruction experts will utilize photographs, charts, graphs and even computer animations. Computer animations will present an animated presentation of the expert’s opinion as to how the accident occurred. Upon a proper foundational showing, these animations can be shown to the jury, as demonstrative exhibits, to illustrate the expert’s testimony and his/her theory. One concern a good personal injury attorney and accident reconstruction expert must always be cognizant of is making the animation too prejudicial. If an accident involved a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a car and witnesses gave statements regarding the amount of blood present and the screams of the victim; neither should be included in the animation. Such depictions are a sure fire way to get the judge to rule that the animation is inadmissible. The reason is quite simple: the probative value of the animation is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect on the defendant. This is why most animations use expressionless and silent mannequins.
Accident reconstruction animations can be visually compelling and a very effective way to illustrate an expert’s opinion. The advances in computer animation has taken the viewer experience from watching what was essentially claymation type graphics to very realistic animations that appear closer to video than animation. YouTube has an extensive collection of accident reconstruction animations that demonstrate most of the points I have discussed in this blog.
Qualifications to Be an Accident Reconstruction Expert
Accident reconstruction experts are highly trained individuals. Many will have a background in a combination of accident investigation, physics, law enforcement, engineering and maintenance of traffic. They will have undergone specialized training regarding their discipline. Most will have specialized certifications such as those received from the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) Obviously, retaining an accident reconstruction expert is an expensive proposition, due to their level of education and technical training. It is not a luxury that can be afforded or is needed on every case. In some cases, however, their assistance is invaluable in obtaining a fair award for an injured client. The decision to hire or not to hire an accident reconstruction expert is one that must be evaluated by your attorney on a case by case basis.
Contact Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.
Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
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5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707
 Pierce v. State, 718 So. 2d 806, 809 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 1997)