After a car strikes a pedestrian, a victim or family of a deceased pedestrian wishing to seek compensation will need to prove how the accident happened and who was to blame. Reconstruction experts may need to be called in to determine what happened when conflicting data exists.
An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can provide assistance finding a qualified expert. A good expert witness knows the science behind accident reconstruction and can present it in laymen's terms so a jury is able to understand what occurred and make an informed choice about liability.
What is Involved in Pedestrian Accident Reconstruction?
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a paper on a geometrically detailed, validated vehicle model approach to identifying causes of pedestrian crashes. Accident reconstruction experts may use detailed multi-body modeling of different vehicle types and pedestrian anthropometries to determine crash causes.
Vehicle type is an important criteria in reconstructing a pedestrian accident cause, as is location where the pedestrian hit the vehicle and location of pedestrian injuries. Greater than 50 percent of all injuries to pedestrians occur because the pedestrian strikes the vehicle's front bumper.
Striking the front bumper generally causes injury to the lower extremity. Striking the hood causes abdominal and hip injuries. Striking the hood and windshield of the vehicle causes injuries to the head, thorax, and neck. When the thorax, abdomen, and spine sustain injury, injuries are more severe and life-threatening than when lower extremities are impacted. Accident reconstruction experts should focus on different body segments and vehicle models to determine where the impact occurred and uncover the crash cause.
Accident reconstruction experts must understand relevant factors and formulas to utilize when investigating a crash. The Houston Chronicle reports the added difficulties faced by accident investigators who determine the cause of pedestrian collisions, versus investigators who determine the cause of crashes involving multiple vehicles.
There is an "extra level of complexity," when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian. Special advanced training courses are available for experts who investigate pedestrian crashes. These accident reconstruction specialists may undergo 40 hours or more of intensive training to better fulfill their investigatory role.
Before receiving special training in pedestrian crash investigation, prior education in collision investigation is generally required. Training is open to experienced traffic homicide investigators and expert witnesses in the accident reconstruction industry. Training provides information on skills necessary to investigate pedestrian accidents including:
- How to assess physical evidence from the collision scene.
- How to assess the accident scene and the environment's impact on the collision.
- The use of pedestrian equations, including how variables like the speed at which a pedestrian walks impact crash data.
- How to determine how visible the pedestrian was.
- Applying standard collision investigation concepts to pedestrian collisions.
- Understanding medical terminology and human anatomy.
- Understanding the relationship between the pedestrian and the driver, the pedestrian and the environment, and the driver and the environment.
- Assessing and evaluating the impact orientation of the pedestrian.
- Determining the vehicle profile and its impact on the crash cause.
It is imperative for crash victims to find trained experts to testify on their behalf in accident claims.