What Is an Accident Reconstruction Expert?

An accident reconstruction expert is someone (often an engineer, physicist, or forensic investigator) who has experience studying the root causes of accidents. Traffic accidents are their primary field, but they also study defective products and slip-and-falls. They use various scientific and mathematical techniques to conduct forensic analyses of how and why the accident happened.

They examine an exhaustive list of conditions at the accident site, including the final landing positions of all vehicles involved, weather and visibility conditions at the time of the accident, skid marks, police reports, eyewitness testimony, photos and videos, and condition of street surfaces, among others.

That helps them develop theories about what contributed to the accident, such as the speed at which each driver was moving, driver behavior, whether a defective product may have been involved, whether the accident could have been avoided, how the accident happened, and who was likely to have caused it.

These experts often testify if the case goes to court. They can be persuasive to jurors because of their expertise and detailed reports. It’s also possible that these experts may uncover evidence missed by other investigators or law enforcement.

When Is it Recommended to Bring in an Accident Reconstruction Expert?

Sometimes, the cause of a motor vehicle accident is clear, such as when someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) runs a red light and hits another vehicle that was in the intersection with a green light. However, accidents are often much more complex when determining liability, or the fault for the accident may be divided among several drivers. Suppose the parties involved in the accident have conflicting stories about what happened. In that case, it’s a good idea to bring in an independent reconstructionist who can combine the varying accounts with available evidence to see what most likely happened.

When a case devolves into disputes that aren’t easily proven, it may be time to bring in an accident reconstruction expert. In those cases, the sooner, the better; the more time that elapses, the more likely it is that some vital pieces of evidence will be gone. For example, a nearby business may delete security camera footage that caught the accident, or a city may repave a road that previously had cracks or potholes.

Why Is it Important to Use an Accident Reconstruction Expert?

There are several reasons. Primary among them is attempting to get to the root cause of the accident and who is likely liable for it. It may be more than one driver, and the reconstructionist can help determine how much fault should be assigned to each driver.

The importance of that rests in Colorado’s comparative negligence laws. Across the U.S., each state has laws and standards for what happens legally when someone is injured in an accident where more than one driver is found to be at fault.

  • Contributory negligence. Only a few states use this. It states that if the injured person is even 1% at fault for the accident, they have no right to file claims.
  • Pure comparative negligence. This is essentially the opposite of contributory negligence. It finds that if the injured person is 99% at fault for the accident, they can still receive 1% of any damages awarded to them. For example, say a driver is injured in an accident where they were hit by someone speeding. But the injured person had run a red light. They may be awarded $10,000 in damages, but because they’re found to be 30% at fault, the damages are reduced to $7,000, or the total minus the percentage of fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence. This holds that if the injured person exceeds a specific fault threshold (depending on the state), they can no longer file claims.

Colorado uses the modified approach, and the threshold is 50%. If the injured party is at least 50% responsible, they can’t file for damages. If they’re 49% or less at fault, they can, although the total will be reduced.

Proving fault and liability becomes increasingly crucial in situations like these. That’s why it’s vital to work with an experienced accident attorney.

What Should I Do if I Was in an Accident Where the Cause is Under Dispute?

First, see a doctor if you haven’t already, even if you feel fine. Some injuries, including severe ones, don’t show symptoms immediately and can worsen if left untreated. The other party in the accident could also claim you weren’t injured in the accident because you didn’t see a doctor immediately.

Then call Genco Injury Attorneys at 303-500-1376 for a free case evaluation. When a motor vehicle accident is so complicated that it’s unclear what or who caused it, it’s vital to have an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney to assist you. If necessary, we can bring in an accident reconstruction expert to clarify the accident’s root cause and identify where the liability belongs.

One thing it’s crucial not to do is communicate with the other parties in the accident, their insurance representatives, or attorneys. The only communication that should happen is to exchange names, contact information, and insurance information. Say nothing else. Colorado’s modified comparative negligence laws mean that the other party has a vested interest in you saying something that can be interpreted as accepting fault. Another tactic is the other party trying to convince you to accept a settlement that’s likely much lower than you might otherwise receive. If you receive any requests for communication, don’t respond, just send them to your attorney.