What Is an Accident Reconstructionist and Why It’s Important in a Trucking Accident Case

Accident Reconstructionist's Semi Truck Diagram

Robenalt Law Works with Accident Reconstructionist Experts to Analyze Truck Accident Cases

In an automobile accident or trucking accident case, any of the parties to a lawsuit may wish to hire an accident reconstructionist to testify as an expert in the case.  If an accident has occurred and serious injuries have resulted, it is best to hire a lawyer immediately to determine if an accident reconstructionist should be retained because evidence from the scene of a crash such as skid marks and debris from the crash needs to be obtained and analyzed before the evidence is no longer available.

An accident reconstructionist uses a scientific approach to offer an explanation as to how and why a trucking accident occurred.

An accident reconstructionist is usually trained in the field of accident reconstruction, which includes a heavy emphasis on physics, engineering and, in many cases, law enforcement.

Typically an accident reconstructionist will begin the analysis from the final resting place of the vehicles involved in the crash. The accident reconstructionist will analyze accident factors including evidence available at the scene of the crash, so-called “black box” data that can be downloaded from each vehicle, vehicle damage, injuries to the people involved, and weather. By working backward, the accident reconstructionist will try to reach conclusions as to the speeds of the vehicles involved, the severity of the collision, what the drivers were doing in the moments leading up to the crash, and other factors that could have caused the collision.

An attorney may hire an accident reconstructionist to offer testimony in a deposition and at trial that is intended to clarify for the members of the jury how the collision occurred, and who was at fault.

If you are a plaintiff in a lawsuit, your attorney will usually advance the expense associated with retaining the expert and it will be deducted from your total recovery as a case expense.

What Does an Accident Reconstructionist Analyze?

An accident reconstructionist will analyze as much pertinent information as possible to render a scientific opinion as to the cause of the accident. This often includes information in police reports, testimony from witnesses and the parties to the lawsuit, photographs taken at the scene of the accident, and photographs of the damage to the vehicles. The accident reconstructionist will also consider measurements taken at the scene of the accident, the length and position of skid marks (if there are any), whether turn signals were used, information about brake lights, and whether the vehicles were equipped with and anti-lock brakes. Witnesses often don’t accurately record the speed, so an accident reconstructionist can analyze crash scene data to come up with a more accurate estimate of the speed of the vehicles involved.   

In a truck accident case, an accident reconstructionist can also analyze “black box” data. This information may include information about the speed the truck was traveling, whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt, and when and how forcibly the driver applied the brake. The accident reconstructionist will analyze this information and present it to the judge and jury.    

In analyzing the crash data an accident reconstructionist will create hypotheses and models of the accident scene, and use the models or computer software to recreate the accident. This information is then shared with the other lawyers in the case as a document in settlement negotiations and can be put into a video format to be played at trial so the jury can better understand the accident reconstructionist’s opinion regarding the cause of the accident.

Only Experts Can Offer Opinions in Court About the Cause of an Accident

At trial, witnesses are usually only permitted to offer testimony about the facts of a case of which they have direct, personal knowledge. They are not allowed to express opinions.

Certain people, however, are permitted to offer opinions because they have special expertise, training, certification, or skills. In a court of law, these people are referred to as experts.

In trucking accident cases, both sides will often hire an accident reconstructionist as an expert to offer an opinion that they believe will benefit their side. An accident reconstructionist may be just one of many experts that a lawyer will hire to offer testimony in the case.

The expert witness is supposed to teach the judge and jury about technical information that may be applicable to the case.

Robenalt Law Fights for People Who Were Injured in Trucking Accidents

If you were injured or someone you care about was killed in a trucking accident, it’s important that you work with a skilled and experienced trucking accident attorney. The Robenalt Law Firm frequently works with accident reconstructionist experts when we seek justice for our injured clients.

Contact the experienced Ohio trucking accident attorneys at the Robenalt Law Firm today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Call 216-223-7535, complete our online form, or email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com.

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 20 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured to secure compensation for trucking accidents.

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