Accident reports in newspapers across Kentucky often end with the statement, “Police are pursuing further investigation.” What exactly does this sentence mean? On many occasions, the sentence simply means that police are interviewing potential witnesses. On some occasions, especially accidents involving fatalities, the sentence means that the police are applying the principals of accident reconstruction to understand exactly how and why the vehicles collided – and which driver was at fault.
The first steps
In most post-accident investigations, the first step is the careful inspection of the site. The positions of the involved vehicles are noted, distances, such as the length of skid marks, are measured, debris is inspected and gathered, and the site is extensively photographed. Most accident reconstruction experts record the site on video cameras.
After information is gathered
If the investigators’ questions are not answered by information gained at the site, the investigation moves indoors. The vehicles and accident debris are moved to a garage or other building capable of protecting them from the elements. The engineers then consult their reference works that provide data on the structural strength and other aspects of the involved vehicles. This information is compared to data obtained from the examination of the damaged vehicles. In some cases, the investigators develop computer simulations of the accident.
Report of the reconstruction
The results of the reconstruction are prepared in booklet form and, if needed, a computer simulation of the accident. The investigators’ opinions are then used by attorneys for both sides to explain how the accident happened and why the defendant should be required to pay damages to the injured parties. Accident reconstruction is one of the techniques used by experienced accident attorneys to present their case to the jury.