Finding yourself injured in a Gatlinburg car accident is never easy. You will likely miss time at work, which means there won’t be any money coming in to pay the bills or provide for your family. It is a situation that can lead to a lot of stress, which is never good for someone who is trying to recuperate from a physical injury. One of the most important expert witnesses that the personal injury attorneys from Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, will call to the stand to build your case is the accident reconstructionist.
A person who works as a Gatlinburg car accident reconstructionist has extensive training in the field, so that after all of the crash data and evidence is collected, he or she can recreate the crash scene in order to determine fault, cause, and other elements involved. An accident reconstructionist is often someone in the scientific, engineering, or law enforcement field. If a law enforcement officer works as an accident reconstructionist, they’ve likely undergone the proper training on top of their police training.
The primary job of an accident reconstructionist is to collect, view, and analyze data and evidence from the crash scene. This is done by reviewing:
- The final resting place of the vehicles involved;
- Damage to the vehicles;
- Damage to surrounding property;
- Injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians;
- Road hazards in and around the wreck;
- Road signage (or lack thereof; and
- The weather at the time of the accident.
The goal of an accident investigation is to determine what the drivers were doing leading up to the crash, the speed of the vehicles, the severity of the crash, and other factors that could have played a role in the cause.
Qualifications for an accident reconstructionist
When the time comes to find an accident reconstructionist for your case, you should only choose someone who has the combined experience necessary to provide expert testimony. The court will scrutinize the experience of the expert, so be sure to find someone with the following qualifications:
- Years of on-scene traffic accident investigation experience
- Number of on-scene traffic accidents investigated
- Types (and amount) of traffic accident education and training have they received
- Current and past involvement in SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers)
- Number of times they have given testimony in a court setting
- Certifications obtained
- C.T.A.R. (Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction)
- State issued P.E. license (Professional Engineer)
How is an accident scene reconstructed?
There is a lot that goes into the reconstruction of a Gatlinburg car accident scene, especially if the crash led to a fatality. If a victim has died in the crash, no one is permitted to move the body until the local coroner arrives. The coroner will conduct their own investigation on top of the police officers on the scene and the accident reconstructionist. This is why many fatal accidents lead to hours-long road closures.
The most painstaking part of accident reconstruction is when the reconstructionist has to measure and document all the evidence of the crash scene. Debris, gouges, tire marks, and other evidence will be sought by the police and the reconstructionist. Pylons or numbered markers will be placed at each piece of evidence and then photographed.
Walking wheels, tape measures, and electronic survey equipment will all be used to take measurements. The devices will determine how the evidence relates to the accident scene using triangulation. The weather can throw a wrench in an accident investigation, especially if rain washes away vehicle or bodily fluids.
Accident reconstructionists will also request footage from traffic cameras, security cameras off buildings, and dashcams of the vehicles involved or from witness vehicles. The reconstructionist will also check to make sure that the traffic lights were working properly at the time of the accident if it occurred in an intersection with a traffic signal.
Once the vehicles are removed from the road the accident reconstructionist’s job is about half complete. The vehicles will likely be impounded, especially if the crash resulted in a fatality and charges are pending against one or more drivers. An independent mechanic will be asked to inspect the vehicles to make sure that there were no mechanical issues that could have led to the crash.
The reconstructionist will also pull data from the vehicle’s black box, which does not record sounds like the ones used in airplanes. However, a vehicle’s black box could be able to help the reconstructionist figure out what caused the accident. Some black boxes can record the speed of the vehicle, if the vehicle was skidding, if seat belts were buckled, and the steering angle.
When is an accident reconstructionist needed?
The most common times an accident reconstructionist is needed are when you need answers to questions surrounding vehicle speeds, code violations, sight distance, avoidability, and collision severity. Other circumstances that often require the services of an accident reconstructionist include the following:
- There were no witnesses to the crash
- The victims of the crash cannot recount what happened
- The vehicles involved were both totaled
- The victims suffered serious injuries or someone was killed
- It has become complicated to prove liability in the crash
- Other information pertinent to the case is missing
How an accident reconstructionist can help after a car crash in Gatlinburg
An accident reconstructionist can help injury victims in many ways, but it is their experienced and scientific analysis of an accident scene for a jury (or a defense attorney) that can help your case. That analysis may:
- Evaluate the physics that played a role in the accident
- Calculate the movements and speeds of the vehicles involved
- Determine the sequence of events leading up to the crash and how the damage occurred to each vehicle
- Determine the force of the collision
- Calculate the positions of the vehicles and their ability to avoid the collision
- Determine viability
- Determine if seat belts were worn
- Determine if acceleration occurred prior to the accident
Did you or a loved one suffer an injury in a Gatlinburg car accident? If so, the personal injury attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, can investigate the crash and help you build a case to recover compensation. We will bring an accident reconstructionist into the fold to help recreate the crash scene. Call our office in Sevierville at 865-428-8780, or complete a contact form on our website to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in and around the Tri-Cities, Seymour, and Pigeon Forge as well.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.