One of the first steps that a legal team takes when investigating the cause of a car crash is to hire an expert who can create a scientifically accurate reconstruction of the accident. Having a detailed reconstruction of a crash can help establish the speed at which the parties were traveling, whether one or both drivers attempted to brake prior to the collision, and whether the accident could have been avoided by either party. These elements are crucial to the success of a personal injury claim and can make all the difference in the outcome of a case, so if you live in Augusta and were injured in a crash, it is critical to retain an experienced car accident attorney who has the support of a professional investigative team.
To create an accurate reconstruction of an accident, professionals who are experts in the fields of engineering and physics must have access to specific information, including:
- The police report completed by the responding police officer;
- Photographs of the scene of the accident;
- Skid mark measurements;
- Photographs of the vehicle damage;
- Medical records detailing the parties’ injuries;
- Testimony of medical or emergency personnel;
- Witness statements;
- Forensic evidence; and
- Video recordings.
Having access to this kind of data undoubtedly helps speed up the process of creating an accident reconstruction. However, it may still be necessary for investigators to inspect the scene of the accident as well as the parties’ vehicles in person in order to create an accurate representation of the crash.
Accident Site and Vehicle Inspection
An investigation usually begins with an inspection of the site of the crash. While at the site, the reconstructionists take measurements of evidence left by the cars by using electronic surveying equipment. This equipment is able to give investigators a clear idea of what happened on the day of the accident by providing measurements of the following types of evidence:
- Point of impact;
- Final resting positions;
- Skid marks;
- Scrub marks; and
- Gouge marks.
These measurements can later be used to create a computer-generated scale diagram that represents a reconstruction of the crash. The reconstruction expert also usually inspects the damaged vehicles in person in order to measure the amount of damage sustained by both cars. The brakes, steering, tires, suspension, and lights may also be tested to determine whether the condition of these parts contributed in any way to the accident.
Once a reconstruction expert has this information, he or she can begin to resolve issues, such as:
- The speed of the vehicles;
- The severity of the collision;
- Visibility at the time of the crash; and
- Each driver’s behavior leading up to the accident.
This information can then be used to establish the percentage of fault that should be allocated to the parties. This is extremely important to the success of a case because Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that if an injured party was at fault for more than 50 percent of an accident, he or she cannot recover compensation from the other driver at all. Having detailed and accurate information can help eliminate any doubt that a plaintiff was at fault in causing a crash.
One of the most important details of a contested car accident case is the speed at which the parties were traveling prior to the crash because demonstrating that one driver was speeding can constitute convincing proof of fault. To calculate this, reconstruction experts must identify how much energy was:
- Lost to the road surface as a result of braking, which requires careful photographing and measuring of all skid marks;
- Lost during erratic motion or side slipping, which requires an inspection of each car’s tires for evidence of braking or scuffing that matches the tire marks on the road;
- Necessary to cause the particular vehicle damage, which can be determined through analysis of staged automobile crash tests conducted by manufacturers; and
- Transferred to other property, such as fences, walls, or utility poles.
Using these values, experts can then use what is referred to as the combined speeds equation to find the pre-impact vehicle speed. At this time, the reconstructionist also uses the newly discovered data to determine the relative positions of the vehicles at different times during the accident. This requires a further analysis of both pre-impact and post-impact direction of travel, friction values from the road, the point of impact, and the weights of the cars.
Expert testimony and a scaled representation of the car accident in question can be pivotal to the outcome of a case. Successful plaintiffs may then be able to collect compensation for their losses, which could be substantial and include expenses ranging from medical bills to vehicle replacement. With particularly severe injuries, car crash victims may be required to take time off from work in order to fully heal, which can in turn make it much more difficult to pay medical bills and household costs. Fortunately, injured parties can collect lost wages and in some cases, may even be able to collect damages for the pain and suffering they endured as a result of the crash. Although no amount of money may be able to return an injured party to his or her pre-accident health or a deceased loved one to his or her family, collecting compensation can go a long way towards helping victims and their families begin the long road to recovery.
Contact us Today to Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Augusta, GA
Even car accident cases that seem relatively clear cut often require the presentation of a substantial amount of evidence to demonstrate liability. Having the advice of experts is invaluable to the investigative process, so if you were involved in a car crash in Augusta, please contact us at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by sending us a brief message containing your contact information and a short description of your case and we’ll have a member of our legal team help you schedule an initial consultation with a skilled and dedicated car accident lawyer in Augusta, GA.