by, Lexicon Legal
Some auto accident cases have clear liability that results in fast settlements, however, cases that result in litigation often land in court because it is not clear just who was at fault. Litigators must be prepared to thoroughly examine complex issues of engineering, physics, and even human psychology in order to prove exactly what happened in the seconds leading up to a car crash. Accident reconstruction experts are a critical tool in an automotive litigator’s arsenal. This blog outlines what an accident reconstruction expert does, how this work can help both plaintiffs’ attorneys and defense counsel, how these experts reconcile conflicting eyewitness testimony, and how Guidepoint’s litigation support services can help litigators win automotive liability cases.
WHAT IS AN ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION EXPERT?
Accident reconstruction experts have specialized knowledge in the areas of physics and engineering. They apply this knowledge to the physical evidence of an accident, eyewitness accounts, and even traffic light records to recreate the critical seconds before, during, and after an accident. Most accidents occur too fast for the involved drivers to know what happened. With the benefit of hindsight and admissible evidence, accident reconstruction experts are able to show juries exactly what caused a car crash. They can also explain why their conclusions differ from an opposing expert’s opinions and why their conclusions are more accurate. In addition to court testimony, accident reconstruction experts can also provide reports for settlement negotiations and create compelling visual models that help jurors understand just how an accident occurred.
HOW PLAINTIFFS’ LAWYERS CAN USE AN ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTIONIST TO PROVE LIABILITY
When liability is disputed on the basis of the driver’s actions in an accident, litigators must be prepared to show exactly what those actions were. Accident reconstruction experts prepare reports that can be used in claims negotiations. If the case proceeds to trial, an accident reconstruction expert can testify about each driver’s actions and the evidence that supports their conclusions. Many reconstruction experts also prepare visual aids to help illustrate the accident to the jury. In the past, these aids were limited to posters and other analog media, but technological advances have opened an entire world of three-dimensional imaging.
HOW DEFENSE ATTORNEYS CAN USE AN ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTIONIST EXPERT TO DEFEND LIABILITY
Initial determinations of liability are often made by insurance company employees who have access to limited information about the accident. The initial decision is often made simply by taking the statements of both involved drivers. The issue of liability can change greatly after witness interviews and review of the physical evidence (such as skid marks and vehicle damage). When this happens, a litigator must be prepared to prove exactly what happened and provide evidence in support that the insured client was not at fault for the accident.
Accident reconstruction experts are able to make more accurate determinations of an accident by reviewing all the evidence, including witness statements, physical evidence, and traffic records that might not have been available before. The expert then applies specialized knowledge of physics and engineering to recreate each action that caused the accident, that is not available when the insurance company is making initial liability determinations. This allows a litigator to more accurately prove what happened when at trial. An experienced reconstruction expert will know how to testify at trial and, more importantly, will know how to rebut conclusions from the plaintiff’s reconstruction expert. Defense witnesses must be prepared to explain why their findings are more accurate than an opposing expert’s.
HOW ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION EXPERTS CAN RECONCILE CONFLICTING TESTIMONY
It is not unusual for there to be conflicting testimony from fact witnesses in automotive liability cases. Each driver had a different response to an urgent, potentially life-threatening, situation. This can affect their abilities to accurately recall details of the accident. Bystanders also have different perspectives of the accident, based upon the angles from which they witness a crash.
Reconstruction experts reconcile conflicting testimony with the available evidence. As an expert who is examining the facts of an accident long after it occurs, the expert witness has a level of objectivity that eyewitnesses cannot have. A litigator may not want to discredit eyewitness testimony by accusing the bystander of lying however, they can use a reconstruction expert to prove that the evidence simply does not support the bystander’s version of events. This approach is less aggressive, more objective, and overall a more effective way to present the point to a jury.
GUIDEPOINT CONNECTS LITIGATORS TO SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS
Litigation is a complex task for even the most seasoned attorney. With litigation support services, you will be better prepared to deliver the results your clients expect. Guidepoint connects litigators with subject matter experts in a broad range of specialized topics at any point in the litigation process. Whatever legal issues you are facing in an automotive liability case, Guidepoint is here to connect you to the expertise you need. Contact us today to learn about Guidepoint’s extensive network of expert witnesses.