What is an 'Accident Reconstruction'?
An accident reconstruction is a scientific approach to solving the questions of how and why an accident occurred. This approach is usually performed by experts trained in the field of traffic accident reconstruction engineering and physics as well as law enforcement personnel that have this specific training. Reconstructing accidents requires a methodology that begins with known data such as vehicle final rest positions, accident scene evidence and vehicle damage. By working with this data in reverse, beginning with the known evidence of final rest positions along with information relevant to the collision, the Reconstructionist can resolve issues such as speeds, collision severity, visibility, driver behavior and other causal factors. An accident reconstruction is the culmination of the scientific analysis of the data gathering process formulated into a concise and coherent report which is backed by expert testimony.
Do I need an accident reconstruction?
If your case needs answers to issues relating to vehicle speed, avoidability, sight distance, collision severity or code violations, then yes, you should retain an accident reconstruction expert. Even minor impacts and collision events may require expertise that would otherwise be left up to general nonscientific interpretation.
Who do we work for?
We are usually retained by attorneys, insurance companies, fleet/safety managers and local/state law enforcement departments. Our business depends solely on the merits of the case which enables us to maintain an objective expert/client relationship. We will not perform an assignment for an individual that is not represented.
How much does an accident reconstruction cost?
The cost is dependent on the information reviewed and the scope of the project. For example; if we need to review many depositions that are relative to a multi-vehicle accident reconstruction, the final cost will likely be much higher than say, a project requiring a speed loss from tire marks analysis. Our fees are based only on the amount of time we spend in performing the assignment and are never contingent upon the outcome of the case. If we develop unfavorable preliminary findings for the client, we stop work and discuss our preliminary findings with our client so as to minimize unnecessary expenses. If requested, JDA provides the client with a cost estimate proposal based on the information provided by the client at the onset of the project.
What do we need to reconstruct an accident?
Of course, we would like to respond to every accident scene that we are asked to reconstruct. But, this request is not often possible so we must rely on information such as the police investigation reports, scene photographs, witness statements, depositions and vehicle damage photographs. The quality of information received is directly related to the quality of our analysis. Whenever possible, every attempt should be made to find the accident vehicles and authorize us to travel to the site of the accident. The more hands-on evaluations and inspections we can perform the more accurate our analysis will be.
What are the qualifications for an Accident Reconstructionist?
When selecting a reconstruction specialist, the experience, training, education, and certifications of the candidate should be thoroughly examined. The best approach is to require the candidate to have a strong background in a combination of accident investigation, the laws of physics, and law enforcement experience. Many expert witnesses have only one or two of the requisite areas needed to be qualified as an accident reconstructionist such as education and/or training. With courts becoming more and more critical of expert testimony, it is best to search for a candidate that can meet the court's criteria in the above mentioned areas.
The following is a general list of qualifiers:
- How many years of on-scene traffic accident investigation experience?
- How many on-scene traffic accidents investigated?
- How much specific traffic accident education and training have they received?
- University of North Florida (IPTM)
- Northwestern University (Traffic Institute)
- Texas A&M (TEEX)
- University of California, Riverside (Traffic Accident Institute)
- Current and past involvement in SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers)
- How many times has testimony been given/accepted in court?
- What certifications have been attained?
- A.C.T.A.R. (Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction)
- State issued P.E. license (Professional Engineer)
What is 'Black Box' data?
Starting early-to-mid 90s recordable air bag modules (so called "black boxes") have been installed in select GM vehicles. SDM, Sensing and Diagnostic Module, is the name given to air bag modules used in General Motors vehicles. Since 1998, recordable air bag modules have been installed in select Ford vehicles. RCM, Restraint Control Module, is the name given to air bag modules used in Ford vehicles. The data retrieved from the airbag modules varies depending on the vehicle make and model. The downloaded data can but does not always include information such as delta-v, seatbelt status, vehicle speed and brake application. An important aspect of collecting and analyzing this data is the ability and qualifications of the expert to correctly interpret and apply the data as a tool for reconstructing an accident.
If I want to consider hiring JDA for a possible assignment, where do I begin?
Why not start by gathering some of the information that you have relating to the case and give us a call at our Toll Free #1-877-JDA-9400. One of our certified Accident Reconstructionists will briefly discuss your case, check for possible conflicts and walk you through the rest of the engagement process.