Why Use Accident Reconstruction Experts?
Have you ever driven past the scene of a vehicular accident and wondered how the vehicles ended up in the position they were in? An Accident Reconstructionist might be called to an accident scene to answer that very question.
Accident reconstructions are commonly used in serious motor vehicle accidents but are also becoming popular in other types of serious personal injury claims. The purpose of reconstruction is to determine what really happened in an accident. Lawyers will on occasion hire an expert to visit the scene of an accident, or to analyze the wreckage in order to make determinations as to how or why the collision occurred. These experts can vary in specialty but usually they have engineering backgrounds and advanced degrees in physics or engineering.
Frequently, lawyers will obtain reports written by these experts and ask them to testify at trial regarding their findings. Through an intense investigation, factors that impact which driver was at fault can sometimes be determined. For example, an expert may be able to piece together various pieces of evidence to determine how fast a vehicle was traveling, prior to the impact or at the moment of impact.
These findings can be cross-referenced against testimony of the parties for accuracy. Insurance carriers have started using these reports to discredit claims of liability or even bodily injury by using human factor’s experts. For example, insurance companies will occasionally use experts to analyze the injuries people sustain after being involved in a crash and cross-reference them against the mechanics of how the accident happened.
The downside of utilizing these types of experts in litigation is that they can be very expensive, often charging hundreds of dollars per hour for their time. Accordingly, it usually does not make sense to utilize them except in cases where there are substantial damages being claimed. Usually, for example, local police departments only utilize experts of this type when they are investigating accidents resulting in fatality or extremely serious injuries. You should discuss with your lawyer whether it makes sense to utilize an expert in your case.
Serious Accidents are Serious Business
If you’ve ever observed a trucking accident, you know firsthand how serious these collisions can be. A typical 18-wheel rig can weigh over 80,000 pounds and when it is involved in a collision with a common passenger vehicle, the result can be catastrophic. Many people are killed, maimed or paralyzed each year from this type of collision. It’s not just 18 wheel rigs either. Tractor trailers, large trucks and other commercial motor vehicles also can wreak havoc on the roadway due to their sheer size, weight and the force created upon impact with one.
Given the seriousness of the injuries usually involved in a commercial vehicle collision, very complicated investigations and analysis of evidence usually ensue. Companies that utilize large 18 wheel trucks to move goods for example, typically hold commercial insurance policies worth millions of dollars to protect goods and protect against liability. If one of these giant machines topples or crashes and kills or maims someone due to negligence, the company can face a large amount of “exposure,” if they are sued.
Since the insurance company for the vehicle which caused the collision, rarely just wants to pay out millions of dollars without asking some questions, the companies will often hire an accident expert to verify how or why the collision occurred. Indeed, sometimes these reports are prepared in anticipation of litigation in order to minimize the impact a lawsuit will have on the companies bottom line.
For example, say a wreck may have resulted due to various factors, from driver fatigue or equipment malfunctions. (Break Failure) An expert will be able to render an opinion that is admissible in court as to which of these factors was the most likely cause of the collision. Was it driver fatigue? Was it a mechanical defect such as break failure? Was the driver intoxicated? Was the collision a result of a sudden lane change? When an expert renders an opinion on such ultimate questions of fact, the opinions often carry great weight. They may be the difference between a Jury believing one side or the other and they may ultimately shift the liability from one party (truck driver) to another (break manufacturer).
The Insurance Company Probably Has More Resources Than You Do
It has been our experience as accident lawyers that a large company will spare no expense to ensure that the liability of their driver is mitigated to the greatest possible extent under the law. One of the ways this can be achieved by them is to hire an expert witness as described above in the form of an accident Reconstructionist to perform an "independent" investigation as to the cause of the accident.
The problem for most litigants battling a large company, is that the expert witness for the “company,” will often interpret the evidence in a light most favorable to the company which is paying him to analyze the accident.
Consult With a Lawyer
Trucking litigation is often very complex and should be handled only by attorneys who are familiar with the practice area and know what kind of questions to ask. Additionally, these cases often end up in trial, so before you hire a lawyer, make sure your lawyer is comfortable taking cases to trial and is familiar with the inside of the courtroom. Not all lawyers are created equal.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to driver error or defective equipment, you may have a significant injury claim. Bob Katz and his legal team have experience assisting clients with insurance claims, denials by the insurance company and personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits stemming from trucking accidents and other serious motor vehicle crashes. Call us today and find out if we can help you. 1-888-540-2599.